St. John's Takes On Syracuse In BIG EAST Championship Final With NCAA Tournament Berth On The Line

Senior captain Terence Leach leads St. John's into first-ever BIG EAST Championship

Senior captain Terence Leach leads St. John's into first-ever BIG EAST Championship

May 4, 2012

Villanova, Pa. -

St. John’s (8-6, 3-3) won’t have much time to bask in yesterday’s historic victory over No. 2 Notre Dame, as the Red Storm readies for the inaugural BIG EAST Championship against in-state rival Syracuse (8-7, 3-3) at Villanova Stadium starting at 12 p.m.

The title game will be broadcast on ESPNU with Eamon McAnaney on play-by-play and Quint Kessenich and Paul Carcaterra providing color commentary.

A win over the Orange in the BIG EAST Championship would provide the Red Storm with its first-ever trip to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.

St. John’s earned its way into the final with a program altering 8-7 win over the Fighting Irish, who came into the game ranked No. 1 in the RPI poll. St. John’s has achieved the highest win total since program reinstatement in 2005 with eight. The victory over No. 2 Notre Dame was also the highest ranked opponent the Red Storm has ever beaten.

The championship matchup with Syracuse will be a rematch of a fiercely contested on March 10, 2012 where St. John’s upset bid of the then-No. 6 Orange came up just short. The Red Storm held a 6-5 lead early in the fourth quarter at DaSilva Memorial Field but a Syracuse goal in the final two minutes broke a tie and gave the Orange a victory. Kevin Cernuto and Terence Leach both recorded hat tricks and Jeff Lowman held strong in net with 15 saves.



The Red Storm has never beaten the Orange in the five matchups all-time. Syracuse has won all three BIG EAST conference meetings between the two teams.

Syracuse finds itself in the BIG EAST Championship as well after topping the tournament’s host Villanova 15-6 on Thursday night. The Orange led 6-4 at intermission but a nine-goal second half put the game out of reach for the Wildcats. Bobby Eilers had a career-high four goals in the semifinal and goalie Bobby Wardwell stopped 12 shots while allowing only two second half goals.

The most successful season in Red Storm lacrosse history added an impressive chapter as St. John’s (8-6, 3-3) defeated No. 2 Notre Dame (11-1, 6-0) 8-7 in the first-ever BIG EAST semifinal at Villanova Stadium on May 3.

The win goes down as the biggest in program history as the No. 2 Fighting Irish were the highest ranked team the Red Storm has ever defeated. Earlier this season St. John’s defeated then-No. 20 Georgetown 13-12 in overtime and also defeated the Hoyas on Feb. 28, 2009 when they were ranked No. 5 to mark the Red Storm’s last two ranked victories.

Kieran McArdle, the BIG EAST’s leading scorer during the regular season, made a statement on the national stage scoring three goals and dishing out four assists against the Fighting Irish. The seven points is the second highest total for McArdle in his career as he tallied eight against Holy Cross on Feb. 18, 2012. The first team All-BIG EAST selection eclipsed the 50 point mark on the season as he has reached 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) on the year. McArdle is now tied for ninth all-time among St. John’s scoring leaders as his 95 career points matches Justin O’Donnell (2005-2008).

Colin Keegan added a goal and two assists and senior captain Terence Leach pitched in with one goal and one assist. Leach’s goal came on the man-up which raises his BIG EAST leading total to 11 on the season. Lowman anchored the defense from net with 13 saves on the day including four in the fourth quarter to preserve the one goal lead. Dillon Ayers and Harrison Freid played inspired defense throughout the game as each finished with four groundballs.

It was the first victory for St. John’s over Notre Dame in program history. With one win over Syracuse, St. John’s will have secured a spot in the NCAA Lacrosse tournament.

McArdle and D. Ayers became the first players in Red Storm lacrosse history to be named first team All-BIG EAST. D. Ayers was also a preseason All-BIG EAST selection as a long stick midfielder.

Leach and Lowman both earned second team All-BIG EAST honors for their play this season. Senior teammate Harry Kutner is the only other player from St. John’s to ever receive All-BIG EAST accolades when he earned a second team selection in 2010.

The strong on-field play by the Red Storm now has many members of the team ranked among the nation and conference leaders in a number of statistical categories.

McArdle (23 goals, 26 assists) is 17th in points per game (3.77) and eighth in assists per game (2.0) nationally. McArdle leads the BIG EAST conference in both points per game and assists per game. The sophomore also recorded the highest individual point total of any BIG EAST player this season with his eight-point performance against Holy Cross on Feb. 18.

D. Ayers is ranked 34th nationally and first in the BIG EAST at 4.38 groundballs per game.

Jordan Rothman ranks 41st in the NCAA and second in the BIG EAST for groundballs per game (4.15). The junior also ranks 27th in the nation for faceoff win percentage (55.2 percent).

Lowman ranks eighth in saves per game (11.46) and 18th in save percentage (55.2 percent) with 149 saves and 121 goals allowed.

McArdle is now among St. John’s all-time leaders in both points and assists. The sophomore’s 95 points ties him for ninth on the all-time list and second most since program reinstatement in 2005. His 48 career assists also places him fourth all-time and the most since the program was restarted.

Kutner has totaled 82 career points despite playing only two games during his junior season and is 15th among St. John’s leading scorers.

Lowman has now amassed 447 saves over his three seasons which places him fourth all-time at St. John’s and the leader since reinstatement.

Rothman came into the season as the school’s all-time leading faceoff winner and has increased his total to 449.

During his standout sophomore season, McArdle became just the sixth player in Red Storm lacrosse history to total 40 goals and 40 assists in a career. The sophomore has 47 goals and 48 assists in 28 career games.

McArdle owns the twelfth longest point scoring streak in the NCAA. The attackman has recorded a point in each of his 28 career games.

McArdle (26 goals), Cernuto (23 goals) and Leach (21 goals) became the first trio in Red Storm lacrosse history to all record 20+ goals in a season. McArdle now owns the record for most goals in a season since reinstatement as the he passed the old mark of 24 set by Cernuto in 2011 and Drew Schanen in 2009.

Syracuse has had a true up-and-down season this year winning back-to-back games only twice. The Orange came in with a two-game losing streak before writing the ship against Villanova in the semifinals.

The Orange has both the 27th ranked offense and defense in the NCAA scoring 10 goals a game while allowing 9.64. Tommy Palasek leads the Syracuse offense with 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) and was a second-team All-BIG EAST selection. Wardwell has started the last seven games in goal for the Orange and is 4-3 with a 9.06 goals against average.

With one of the top riding defenses in the league, Syracuse causes 8.93 turnovers a contest. Brian Megill, one of the nation’s top on-ball defenders, was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection in a season where he picked up 57 groundballs and caused 34 turnovers.

Keep up with Red Storm lacrosse all season long at and on Twitter by following @STJ_Lacrosse.


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