Lax falters late at ‘Nova

With momentum from their biggest win of the season over then-No. 20 Georgetown last week, the No. 20 St. John’s lacrosse team aimed to swipe another upset on the road against Big East rival No. 15 Villanova over the weekend.

But the newly-ranked Red Storm couldn’t takedown the Wildcats, losing on the road, 11-8 after Villanova scored four consecutive goals in a fourth quarter push.

“It would have been big to grab a win over Villanova and set ourselves up for the Big East Tournament,” said head coach Jason Miller. “The guys battled all game long but just came up a bit short.”

With the loss, the Johnnies have a harder road to qualify for the Big East conference’s inaugural four-team tournament. The Johnnies need to win their last conference game next week against Providence to secure a spot.

The Red Storm (6-5, 2-3) looked very competitive in the first three quarters, staying close to Villanova through the first half of the game and taking a 7-6 lead by the end of the third period. But then they collapsed on both ends in the final frame.

In the fourth quarter the Wildcats tied the game with a quick goal and then put three more goals pass Red Storm junior goalie Jeff Lowman in the duration of the period to open up a 10-7 lead.

With about 1:34 left in the game, and down three goals, Miller called a timeout to plan what would have been the biggest comeback of the season for the Johnnies, trumping even last week two-goal recovery in the last minute against Georgetown.

“At the last timeout I told the guys to keep battling,” Miller said, adding “You always have to believe that the comeback is possible with the type of guys we have.”

And after the Red Storm timeout senior Alex Lagodich netted a goal to put the Johnnies within two goals, but the Wildcats defense held on after that for the win.

“Villanova is a very good team,” redshirt senior Harrison Freid said. “Later in the game when they were playing good lacrosse and we weren’t, they were able to capitalize.”

In the loss, sophomore Kevin Cernuto led the No. 20 Red Storm with a hat trick, his fourth of the season, and McCardle netted two goals and added one assist to lead the Johnnies offense. Jordan Rothman gave the Johnnies more possession time, winning 12 of 22 faceoffs and picking up seven ground balls, while Lowman collected 13 saves in the cage.

Since Georgetown suffered a loss to Notre Dame as well, the Red Storm are still fourth in the seven-team conference and in position to earn a spot in the tournament with a win when they return home next week. They take on Providence in their final home game on April 21 at DaSilva Memorial Field.

“[Potentially qualifying is] exciting for the program,” Freid said. “If we do what we’re capable of, we’ll win [against Providence].”

Added Miller, “We have to turn around and have a solid week of practice to prepare for Providence. Hopefully we can put together our best effort and get a big win for our seniors.”