March 2, 2013

St. John's Battles Back to Edge Siena

from press release

St. John's (3-1) was staring down an 0-2 week trailing Siena (1-3), 9-5, with 8:34 to play in the third quarter, but scored seven goals down the stretch to complete the 12-11 comeback victory at Siena on Saturday, March 2.

The Red Storm rattled off four goals in the final 6:18 of the third quarter to even the score heading into the final period. It was the largest comeback by a Red Storm team since St. John's overcame a four-goal deficit in an 11-10 victory at Rutgers on April 3, 2010.

St. John's improves to 16-2 all-time against Siena and 4-2 under head coach Jason Miller.

Colin Keegan led the charge with a career-high five goals, including the game-winner, while also tying five other players for the most goals in a game since program reinstatement in 2005. Fellow attackmen Kevin Cernuto tied a career-best with four goals on the afternoon and Kieran McArdle totaled a goal and two assists.

Standing strong between the pipes was Jeff Lowman who finished with 14 saves as the Saints fired 56 total shots. The Ayers brothers both recorded points on the afternoon with Brandon Ayers scoring a fourth quarter goal and Dillon Ayers dishing out a transition assist. The pair also combined for seven groundballs, three caused turnovers and helped St. John's to a 14-for-16 performance in the clearing game. Jordan Rothman and Mario Carrera both went an identical 7-for-13 at the faceoff X to give the Red Storm a 14-12 advantage for the game.

Siena got off to a hot start with the first six shots of the game, but Lowman hung tough stopping a pair of shots on the first possession. Alex Lagodich struck first for St. John's with a strong run out of a timeout for his fifth score of the season. Siena would rattle off back-to-back goals as Danny Martinsen and Conor Prunty found the net for the Saints. Hustling until the final whistle, Keegan found himself at the right place at the right time as he scooped up a Keith Switzer bouncer and scored just as the first quarter buzzer sounded.

Keegan continued scavenging in front of the net as he picked up another groundball and found a wide open cage to put St. John's on top 3-2 with 9:42 to play in the half. A Siena goal off an unsettled situation from Richie Hurley tied the game up once again, 3-3, as both sides continued to scrap. Colin Clive and Prunty made it three straight goals for the home side putting the Johnnies down 5-3.

After a slow-paced opening 29:42 of the game with just eight goals, the two teams combined for three goals in a span of just 18 seconds to bring a wild conclusion to the first half. Last week's BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week, Cernuto, went to his off-hand and beat Siena goalie Matt Sharp down low with a lefty rip to close the gap to 5-4, but a second Clive goal off the faceoff seemed to give the Saints the momentum heading into the half. Keegan refused to cooperate; however, as he completed his first-half hat trick with his second last second goal of the game and sent St. John's into the intermission trailing 6-5.

The Saints came out the aggressor in the second half scoring a pair of goals in the opening two minutes of the third quarter. Kyle Curry tallied the first at 13:52 with Martinsen following just nine seconds later. Hurley found the net on the man-up for the Saints midway through the third to push the lead to 9-5 with 8:34 to play.

St. John's remained resilient as a strong ride from Keegan set up a fast break opportunity for Cernuto that the junior attackman deposited into the lower netting. St. John's came up with another loose ball as McArdle pounced on an opportunity and went behind the back to beat the goalie, making it 9-7. Cernuto kept the fight going for St. John's, scoring from the right side, unassisted this time. Another difficult save and hockey assist from Lowman ignited the fast break as Dillon Ayers picked up an assist to Keegan for the junior's fourth goal of the game.

Siena stopped the bleeding with a goal from Curry to begin the period and put the Saints back up 10-9. Cernuto upped his tally to four and tied the game for St. John's once again at 10-10. Off the ensuing faceoff, Brandon Ayers turned in an inspired effort, as he fought through a push and found the net for his second goal of the season. The score put St. John's up 11-10 and gave the Red Storm its first lead since it was 3-2 at the beginning of the second quarter. Another goal from Clive tied things up for the fifth-time at 11-11 and kept the frantic pace going. With 3:18 to play, McArdle drew a double team and found an open Keegan in front of net, which he put away for his fifth goal of the game to give the Johnnies a 12-11 lead.

Lowman closed the door on a couple of solid chances from Siena in the final minutes, as the Red Storm was able to avoid the traps and run out the final 60 seconds of play.

St. John's returns next weekend for a rematch of the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, as the Red Storm takes on Syracuse at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. on Saturday, March 9. The game starts at noon and is part of the tripleheader Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic organized by Inside Lacrosse.

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