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Men’s lacrosse preview: St. John’s looks to turn corner in 2012

Saturday, 18th February 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 2/18/12
From Press Release

After a 2011 season that featured numerous close calls against top competition, St. John’s lacrosse has committed to turning the corner in 2012. The Red Storm finished last season at 4-10 (2-4, BIG EAST) but had five losses of three goals or less showing just how close the program came to challenging for one of the top three spots in the conference. The 2012 slate will offer plenty of opportunities to mend last season’s heartbreaks as the schedule is comprised entirely of rematches from 2011.

The St. John’s lacrosse program will also return to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. for this year’s edition of the Konica-Minolta Big City Classic. The Red Storm will take on national power and conference foe Notre Dame at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 1. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and followed by matchups of Duke-Syracuse and North Carolina-Johns Hopkins. At last year’s Big City Classic, St. John’s defeated Rutgers 9-8 in a back and forth affair that showcased the Red Storm on one of lacrosse’s biggest stages.

Head lacrosse coach Jason Miller has received praise for the talent he’s brought to Queens and the 2012 freshman class continued that positive trend. The St. John’s roster will feature 14 freshmen as well as a pair of transfer newcomers. The roster is underclassmen heavy with 27 of 41 players being either freshmen or sophomores. Despite the youth movement, the Red Storm still has a strong core of players who have been through the battles of BIG EAST lacrosse.


Early season injuries to Terence Leach (St. Dominics) and Harry Kutner (Garden City), forced younger players into expanded offensive roles in 2011. With the return of Leach and Kutner, the Red Storm attack should feature the necessary depth and talent to challenge defenses throughout the season. The formidable sophomore duo of Kevin Cernuto and Kieran McArdle (Connetquot) return after a stellar first year campaign where both ranked in the top-ten in goals per game, assists per game and points per game among NCAA Division I freshmen.

Leach, a senior captain, will be vital in keeping a young St. John’s team on even keel as he’s been a part of the program for the last four seasons. Kutner should provide a huge boost to the attack, as he was the team’s leading scorer and a second-team All-BIG EAST selection in 2010. Fellow senior Charlie Holenstein will bolster the attack after scoring 12 goals in as many games last season, including a four-goal performance in the Big City Classic. Sophomores Colin Keegan and Keith Switzer will provide St. John’s with unprecedented depth up front as the two combined for 13 goals last season. In total the Red Storm returns 104 of last season’s 117 total goals scored, which suggests the possibility of an even more efficient scoring year for the Red Storm.

Freshman Joseph Leonard (Hicksville) should also see minutes on the attack, as he enters as one of the more heralded recruits to play for St. John’s lacrosse. Leonard is a member of the United States U-19 Lacrosse Team and was the 86th ranked recruit in Inside Lacrosse’s Top 100. Hailing from Springfield-Delco High School in Pennsylvania, Joseph Venit is another talented freshman attackman who scored 166 goals and amassed 62 assists during his high school career. Fellow freshman Stefan Diachenko will bring some Canadian flair to the attack as he was ranked 13th out of all Canadian recruits in this class.


Long stick midfielder Dillon Ayers (Lynbrook) earned the distinction of becoming the first Red Storm lacrosse player named to the preseason All-BIG EAST team. Ayers led the team with 56 groundballs and 21 caused turnovers in 2011. He ranked in the top-50 nationally for both groundballs per game and caused turnovers per game.

Senior captain Matt Hurst (Massapequa) will provide leadership for the Red Storm as he returns to the lineup after playing in every game of the 2011 season. Junior Brandon Ayers (Lynbrook) scored eight goals last season and led all St. John’s short stick midfielders with 27 groundballs last year. Sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald finished third on the team in points during the 2011 campaign with eight goals and nine assists. Junior Alex Lagodich has shown the ability to be an offensive threat from the midfield position with 15 goals thus far in his two year career.


Coach Miller’s defensive background will be put to the test as he attempts to revamp a unit that will look to replace last year’s leaders Dan Cremens and Mike Sherry. Sophomore Joe Adonna will be called upon to take a greater role after starting 12 games and grabbing 20 groundballs his freshman season. Senior transfer from the University of Michigan Harrison Freid will look to translate his MCLA All-American skills into the rough and rigorous competition of the BIG EAST lacrosse play. Sophomore Drew Viscusi has been called upon to move back from the midfield to a close defense position, as the coaching staff hopes his physicality will help solidify the back line. Freshman Mark DiFrangia will also be called upon to compete right away and bolster the defensive unit.


Fortunately for the young STJ defense, junior goalie Jeff Lowman solidifies the team between the pipes. Lowman was recently named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch list which honors the top player in NCAA lacrosse across all three divisions. He was a fixture of the St. John’s lineup last year playing all but 22 minutes during the entire season. Lowman ranked second nationally in saves per game, stopping an impressive 12.64 per contest. Lowman found his name on the BIG EAST Honor Roll four times last season in addition to a BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week award.

Junior Jordan Rothman will once again take his place at the face-off X for St. John’s after being the primary specialist for the last two seasons. Rothman already holds the Red Storm record for faceoff victories with 298 career wins. He went 146-293 (.498) on faceoffs last season and will look to bring that number over the .500 mark this season.


As has now become expected for St. John’s, the schedule is not for the light of heart as the Red Storm will play six teams ranked in the top-20 of the USILA Coaches’ Poll. STJ lacrosse will also play eight true road games and tie a program-record with nine games away from home, including the Big City Classic. The Red Storm also has its sights set on qualifying for the first ever BIG EAST tournament this season which will be hosted by Villanova University.



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