Dec. 9, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. - Coming off back-to-back record-breaking seasons, head lacrosse coach Jason Miller and the St. John's Athletic Department have officially announced the schedule for the 2014 season, which will see a reloaded Red Storm squad take on a challenging slate that includes last year's NCAA Tournament runner-up, a pair of local rivals as well as both traditional and new BIG EAST Conference foes.
In all, St. John's will face three teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, as well as five teams ranked in last year's end-of-season Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and a total of 11 squads that won seven or more games a year ago. The Red Storm's 2014 slate is made up of six home games at DaSilva Memorial Field, seven away contests and one neutral-site encounter.
"I think we've again set the bar high for 2014," said Miller. "Drexel and Penn were both NCAA Tournament contenders last year, and when you add them to tournament teams like Yale, and Syracuse, it ends up being a pretty challenging out-of-conference schedule. We dodged a big time bullet at Siena last year, and Holy Cross really opened some people's eyes last season, so our expectation is that we will have our hands full this spring."
One of the highlights of St. John's upcoming season promises to be its clash with former conference rival and 2013 NCAA Tournament runner-up Syracuse scheduled for Saturday, March 8 in Atlanta, Ga. The Red Storm and Orange are no strangers to playing on some of college lacrosse's biggest stages, with then-No.12/10 Syracuse using a late-game run to score a 13-11 win over St. John's in last season's inaugural Whitman's® Sampler® Independence Classic at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The neutral site meeting will also be a rematch of the inaugural BIG EAST Lacrosse Championship in 2012.
The Red Storm opens its season on Saturday, Feb. 15, when College of Holy Cross enters DaSilva Memorial Field for a 1 p.m. contest, marking the seventh consecutive year that St. John's opens its schedule against the Crusaders. Last season, the Red Storm opened its record-breaking campaign with an 11-9 victory in Worcester, Mass.
In the second game of the season on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Red Storm will face Ivy League power Yale, a quarterfinalist in last year's NCAA Tournament. St. John's registered its first-ever win over the then-No.17/20 Bulldogs last season, a 10-9 home result secured by a last-minute goal.
After opening the month of March with a home date against Siena College on March 1 and just four days before taking on the Orange in Atlanta, St. John's will make its first of two trips to Philadelphia, Pa. on the season to play familiar foe Drexel University in another marquee out-of-conference clash on Tuesday, March 4. Despite not meeting last season, the two teams had previously met every year since lacrosse returned to St. John's in 2005, with the last Red Storm victory in the series coming in 2009 in Queens, N.Y.
The Red Storm will open BIG EAST Conference play on Saturday, March 15 when it plays hosts to Georgetown, overtime winners over St. John's in last season's Battle at Bethpage.
Up next, and before diving into the thick of its conference schedule, the Red Storm will continue a pair of local rivalries, as Miller's squad will host nearby Hosfra University on March 18 before traveling four days later to Stony Brook on March 22. Last year's meeting between St. John's and the Pride resulted in an instant classic, as the Red Storm climbed out of a 3-0 first quarter hole to claim a 7-6 upset victory over then-No. 7/6 Hofstra, its first victory over its local rival since program reinstatement in 2005.
"We're really excited to continue the local rivalries with Hofstra and Stony Brook," said Miller. "We talk a lot about setting a high bar. For us, it starts with the opportunity to play both of those programs."
Beginning on March 29 at Providence, St. John's will play five consecutive conference games, including a visit to Rutgers on April 2, followed by a home clash with Marquette on April 6.
On Saturday, April 12, the Red Storm will journey to Denver, Colo. to take part in another high-profile contest with the University of Denver in a match-up loaded with plot lines. The Pioneers, who moved to the BIG EAST Conference for immediate competition for the 2014 season, will face the Red Storm for the very first time and for the first time as conference opponents. Denver brings an impressive resume to the BIG EAST, making it to the ECAC Tournament finals and NCAA Tournament semifinals last season.
"As usual, we will have to battle every time out in the BIG EAST Conference against some quality teams," said Miller. "Providence, Rutgers and Marquette will all be significantly improved from last season. The Georgetown game has been an overtime affair the last two years now, and we will have to figure out a way to beat Villanova for the first time. With the addition of Denver, who is not only a perennial tournament team but a perennial Final Four team, making the BIG EAST Tournament will be as difficult as it's ever been, let alone winning it."
St. John's will host Villanova on Saturday, April 19 for Senior Day, and on Friday, April 25 will return to Philadelphia to play in its regular season finale at the University of Pennsylvania, marking the first time the Red Storm and Quakers will meet on a lacrosse field. Like Drexel, Penn finished last season ranked in the top-20 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and narrowly missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth.
The Red Storm will try to book its second BIG EAST Tournament appearance in the last three years this season when the calendar turns to May. The semifinals are set for Thursday, May 1 with the finals to follow on Saturday, May 3, in Philadelphia, Pa.
Keep up with Red Storm lacrosse all season long at RedStormSports.com and on Twitter by following @StJohnslax and using the hashtage "sjulax."