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BIG EAST men’s title preview: Syracuse, St. John’s meet for championship Saturday at Villanova at noon

Friday, 4th May 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/4/12
From Press Release

St. John’s (8-6, 3-3) won’t have much time to bask in Thursday’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) Saturday at Villanova Stadium at 12 p.m.

St. John's celebrates its upset win over Notre Dame Thursday. The Red Storm face Syracuse at noon Saturday for BIG EAST crown at Villanova

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.

“We expected to be here until Saturday,” said St. John’s coach Jason Miller. “We were prepared to be here until Saturday. I don’t think our guys are the least bit intimidated coming into this environment and playing these games. I think they all understood we would be competitive. We expected to win.”

Syracuse finds itself in the BIG EAST Championship as well after topping the tournament’s host Villanova 15-6 on Thursday night before a crowd of 3,252. 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.

PHILLY CONNECTION

The Red Storm have received major contributions this year from sophomore attackman Colin Keegan (Springfield-Delco) and senior attackman Charlie Holenstein (Downingtown West), sophomore defenseman Joe Addona (Springfield-Delco) and freshman defenseman Mark DiFrangia (La Salle) and sophomore midfielder Connor Mullen (Downingtown West). Syracuse has gotten a boost lately from freshman midfielder Matt Walters (Haverford School).

LAST TIME OUT FOR ST. JOHN’S

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.

SCOUTING THE ORANGE

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 RedStormSports.com and on Twitter by following @STJ_Lacrosse.


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