January 14, 2014

#LMRanks: No. 19 St. John's Red Storm (MD1)

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive | College Preview 2014

Kieran McArdle, who was the fifth overall pick in Friday night's MLL collegiate draft, leads St. John's into 2014 with greater expectations than season's past. (Lee Weissman)

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2013 Record: 9-4 (3-3 Big East)
Coach: Jason Miller (8th)
Record at St. John's: 38-58

Power Ratings (scale of 1-5)

Offense: 5
Defense: 3
Goaltending: 2
Faceoff: 2

Top Returner

A Kieran McArdle (Sr.)
McArdle trailed only Lyle Thompson for the nation's lead in points per game. He averaged 6.54 with more parts assists (49) than goals (36). St. John's starting attack of the lefty McArdle, Kevin Cernuto and Colin Keegan — who all return — combined for 164 points last season, more than a handful (six) Division I teams scored as a whole. Major League Lacrosse's Florida Launch selected McArdle with the fifth overall pick in Friday night's collegiate draft.


A Colin Keegan (Sr.)
When the Red Storm offense purrs, Keegan (26 goals, five assists in 2013) is finishing inside, finding space as defenses focus on McArdle and Cernuto. Cernuto is a big dodger who had 32 goals and 16 assists last season.

NCAA Tournament Trend

2009 DNQ
2010 DNQ
2011 DNQ
2012 DNQ
2013 DNQ

What's New?

Expectations. Coming off a nine-win season and with a preseason Tewaaraton Award candidate and top-five MLL draft pick in its midst, St. John's has widespread expectations nationally for what may be the first time in coach Jason Miller's tenure. The composition of the Big East conference has changed, too. Recent favorites Syracuse and Notre Dame have moved to the ACC, but Denver enters. Yes, Denver, the westernmost Division I men's lacrosse team, is in the Big East.

Telling Number

Wins in a season. St. John's won nine games last year, the most since the program was reinstated in 2005. But the Red Storm still came up short of making the NCAA tournament. They were even left out of the four-team Big East tournament. With a beefed up non-conference schedule from years past, if St. John's can get 10 wins this season they should be in NCAA tournament contention come May.

Enemy Lines

What rival coaches say
"Arguably the second best attack unit in the nation behind Albany. Middies need to take the pressure of this unit... Maybe the second best attack in the country or...the state of New York... McArdle, Cernuto, and Keegan on attack make this team very dangerous offensively as all three of these guys put up great numbers against a pretty tough Big East conference last year... This is a team that has won some big games including beating Notre Dame and Yale last year with their stars McArdle and Cernuto performing like stars... Question marks will be defensively were they struggled last year. It does not help that they lost their goalkeeper in Lowman who was a great last line of defense for them... Will this team be able to get into that upper echelon of the Big East and bypass a Denver or Villanova to win the league?"

2013 Recap

In a Nutshell: St. John's had it best season under Miller and since the program was reinstated. A win over then-No. 1 Notre Dame elevated the Red Storm in the national rankings. They also beat ranked teams Yale and Hofstra during the year. But a 3-3 Big East record wasn't enough to get into the conference post-season tournament, and the Red Storm was on the wrong part of the NCAA tournament bubble.

High Point: The 12-10 win over top-ranked Notre Dame on March 30. Cernuto had four goals and three assists while McArdle had three goals and two assists. It was the second straight win for St. John's over the Irish.

Low Point: A 14-13 loss to unranked Georgetown the very next game on April 6. The Hoyas scored with 10.2 seconds left in regulation and won the game in overtime. St. John's and Georgetown both finished with 3-3 Big East records, but the Hoyas got in the conference postseason because of this win.

2014 Preview

Best Case: It's hard to imagine the St. John's attack slowing down, so given that unit continues producing even somewhat near what it did a year ago, the Red Storm will be threats in every game. Of more importance is breaking in a new faceoff man and goaltender in front of three returning close defenseman from a unit that allowed 11 goals per game (42nd in the nation). Junior Mario Carrera took less than 100 faceoffs last year and won 44 percent, and the team also welcomes John Lally, a Canisius transfer. A sophomore, Harry Burke, looks like the starter in goal. His development will be key. Graduated starter Jeff Lowman was tenth nationally in saves per game (12.75) a season ago. If St. John's can sure up some of its more uncertain units, it can grab the second seed in the Big East tournament and have a chance at May Madness.

Worst Case: A lukewarm performance in the non-conference slate, which includes games at Yale, Drexel and Penn and against Syracuse in Atlanta. Denver is the Big East preseason favorite, so if that holds, boosting the NCAA at-large resume will be key. Don't count out Big East foes Villanova, Georgetown and upstart Villanova throwing some scares at the Red Storm, too.

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.

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