St. John's Knocks Off Rutgers in Big City Opener
from press releaase | Big City Classic Live Blog
St. John's Ryan Fitzgerald unleashes a shot Sunday on Rutgers goalie Joseph Donnelly in the first game of the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at New Meadowlands Stadium.
© Jim O'Connor
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The St. John's lacrosse team delivered a thrilling 9-8 victory over conference rival Rutgers in the program's first appearance in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Red Storm (3-6, 1-1) was led by junior Charlie Holenstein who tallied a career-high four goals on five shots, all coming in the first half. Holenstein earned Konica Minolta Player of the Game honors for his performance.
Freshman Kieran McArdle recorded his sixth multi-point game of the season, setting a new career high in assists with four to go along with a second-quarter goal. Sophomore Jeff Lowman stopped seven shots in the second half to keep Rutgers at bay in the final minutes.
Rutgers (5-4, 0-2) was spearheaded by Michael Diehl and Scott Klimchak who both tallied hat tricks.
"Today was everything we hoped it would be and more," said head coach Jason Miller. "When you get an opportunity to play in this venue and in this environment, you want to cash in on it, and we did."
The Scarlet Knights excited the crowd early by netting a goal just eight seconds into the game as face-off specialist Christopher Mattes won the opening draw and fed Scott Klimchak who scored from the left side.
St. John's responded with a counter punch as sophomore Jordan Rothman won the ensuing face-off and junior midfielder Matt Hurst put home a line drive from the top of the box to tie the game just 14 seconds in.
Holenstein continued the furious scoring just a minute later off an assist from sophomore Jarrett Carr to give the Red Storm a 2-1 lead.
Both teams settled down over the next 10 minutes, causing turnovers and forcing wide shots. Holenstein broke the drought at the 5:27 mark for his second goal as freshman Kevin Cernuto dished the first of his two assists.
After a Rutgers goal from Diehl, Holenstein finished the first quarter with his third goal on a setup from McArdle, making the margin 4-2.
The second period featured a back and forth battle as Rutgers and St. John's traded multiple goals, despite Rothman winning all six face-offs against the country's top face-off specialist in Mattes.
St. John's tallied goals from McArdle and Holenstein while Rutgers' Kory Kelly, Diehl and Scott Klimchak all found the net, the final goal coming at the 1:28 mark and cutting the Red Storm lead to 6-5 at the intermission.
The Scarlet Knights came out of the locker room and possessed the ball for most of the third quarter, winning three of four face-offs and tying the game on a man-up opportunity midway through the period on a goal from Diehl.
After a Red Storm turnover in the offensive end, sophomore long-stick midfielder Dillon Ayers trapped the Scarlet Knights on a clear attempt at midfield, causing a turnover and reversing the ball in transition. Ayers passed to McArdle who found a cutting Cernuto on the back side to give St. John's a 7-6 advantage, a lead the Red Storm never relinquished.
St. John's extended the lead late in the quarter when freshman Joe Granata passed to his classmate Colin Keegan who fought through a Scarlet Knight defender to go low to high and hit the back of the net.
Late in the fourth quarter, freshman Keith Switzer extended the lead to 9-6 on McArdle's fourth assist.
Rutgers did not go away quietly as Duncan Clancy assisted on two goals, including one from Matthew Klimchak with 46 seconds remaining to pull within one goal. The Scarlet Knights had a chance to tie it with just seconds remaining, but an errant pass went out of bounds and the Red Storm ran out the clock.
Goalkeeper Lowman finished with 10 saves while Rothman led the team with four ground balls, winning 11-21 face-offs. Senior Mike Sherry picked up three ground balls and caused one turnover.
St. John's converted 14-15 clears and went 1-2 on extra-man opportunities, while killing off four of six Rutgers man-up chances.
The win marks St. John's second straight victory after a 15-7 win over Sacred Heart last week. The contest also marked the second time in two years that St. John's defeated Rutgers by one goal.
St. John's will continue conference play next week by traveling to face Providence on Saturday, April 9, at 1 p.m.