March 23, 2013

St. John's Off to Best Start Since 2005 Revival

from press release

MALVERN, Pa. -- St. John's  received another set of standout performances from Kieran McArdle, six goals and seven assists, as well as goalie Jeff Lowman, 15 saves, to hold off Robert Morris 17-11 and achieve the best start to a season since program reinstatement in 2005.

The Red Storm (6-2, 1-1) has now won six of its first eight games, topping the 2009 squad which previously held the record for best start to the season at 5-3. The 1982 St. John's lacrosse team holds the school record of 8-2, but did not play a Division I schedule at the time. St. John's has now won three straight games, defeating Rutgers, Hofstra and Robert Morris, marking the Red Storm's first three-game winning streak since 2011.

McArdle entered the week second in the nation for points per game (6.67) and continued to bolster that number with a 13-point effort against the Colonials. The junior broke his own program record for single-game points, which he set with 12 against Rutgers earlier this season. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y. native has totaled 57 points (23 goals, 34 assists) on the year, just three shy of his 2012 production that earned him Honorable Mention All-American status. The 13 points is the individual game-high for NCAA Division I in 2013 and the highest total by any Division I player since the start of the 2010 season.

A positive sign for St. John's was the continued contributions of the midfield which accounted for seven goals.Alex Lagodich recorded his first hat trick of the season with three goals on five shots. Colin Keegan tallied two goals and an assist while Kevin Cernuto added a goal and two assists to round out the scoring for the starting attack unit.

Lowman and Dillon Ayers held steady on the defensive end to thwart any Colonial comeback. Lowman entered the week ranked 12th nationally in saves per game and registered another 15 saves against Robert Morris. The senior now has 41 stops in his last three games. Dillon Ayers totaled nine groundballs for the second-straight game while also forcing four turnovers. Brandon Ayers posted a strong performance in the defensive midfield with six groundballs, four caused turnovers and his third goal of the season. Jordan Rothman excelled at the X winning 18-of-25 faceoffs and picked up a career-high 11 groundballs against Robert Morris.

It was a wild game that featured 20 penalties between the two teams and 10 man-up opportunities for the Red Storm. The Johnnies converted on five and held Robert Morris to just 3-of-7 to gain the advantage in the specialty game. The St. John's close defense of Joe Addona, Mark DiFrangia and Drew Viscusi battled to kill off both a two and three-minute non-releasable penalty during the course of the game to prevent any huge momentum swings.

St. John's improves to 3-0 all-time against Robert Morris. The Red Storm was outshot 45-42 but maintained possession with 48 groundballs. The groundball total was the second-highest since program reinstatement trailing just a 50-groundball day against Wagner on March 29, 2006.

A long afternoon of scoring began with a running right-handed effort by Lagodich on the game's first possession to put the Johnnies up 1-0. The Colonials would answer back with a goal from Luke Laszkiewicz on their first possession. McArdle scored his first goal of the game off a shovel feed from Cernuto at 10:31 to go up 2-1. After a few possessions of scoreless lacrosse, McArdle set up Ryan Fitzgerald for a goal on the man-up to put St. John's ahead 3-1. An unassisted effort from McArdle earned an and-one and the junior fed Stefan Diachenko on the next possession for the Red Storm's second EMO goal of the day. With the Red Storm off to a hot start, Tyler Digby closed the first quarter with a goal to cut the St. John's lead to 5-2 heading into the second.

Keith Switzer scored the Red Storm's sixth goal off a pass from McArdle for his fourth tally of the season. The Red Storm would play opportunistic lacrosse on Robert Morris' next possession as a shot off the post was scooped up by McArdle who set up Cernuto for St. John's first man-down goal of the season. Penalties would cost the Red Storm as the Colonials climbed back into the game with back-to-back goals on the man-up; cutting the lead to 7-4. The Colonials' leading scorer, Jake Hayes, scored the first and Digby followed with his second of the game. Lagodich ensured the Red Storm would hold control of the game heading into intermission as his goal with 25 seconds left in the second quarter earned St. John's an 8-4 halftime lead.

Lagodich continued fueling the Red Storm offense with another righty dodge toward net to extend the lead to 9-4. A three-minute penalty on Rothman for an illegal stick heading into the next faceoff provided some life for Robert Morris, but an impressive kill by the St. John's man-down unit kept the Red Storm in command. McArdle scored St. John's third man-up goal of the game after Cernuto found him free near the cage. Keegan and McArdle would then score consecutive goals in the middle of the third quarter to give the Red Storm its biggest lead of the game at 12-4 with 9:49 left in the third. Robert Morris responded with a three-goal run as Hayes, Digby and Laszkiewicz all connected for the Colonials to bring the tally to 12-7. A man-up goal from Keegan with an assist from McArdle closed the third quarter scoring and put St. John's up 13-7 to close the period.

McArdle scored unassisted to open the fourth quarter, but Robert Morris' faceoff man Nicholas Beaudoin won the ensuing faceoff and barreled his way towards goal to add another for the Colonials. Brandon Ayers freed himself up in the midfield and weaved through the Robert Morris defense to put St. John's up 15-8. Dave Morton, who had five goals last week against Hobart, scored his first goal of the game for the Colonials with 11:04 to play. McArdle finished his sixth opportunity of the game with 8:41 left and put the Red Storm up 16-9. Digby and Connor Martin tallied goals for the Colonials to push the score to 16-11 with just over seven minutes on the clock. Connor Mullen scored the Red Storm's final man-up goal with 5:22 left in the game on McArdle's seventh-assist to reach the final score of 17-11. St. John's and Robert Morris played scoreless the rest of the way as the game's frantic pace halted with the Red Storm burning off the final minutes.


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