The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Growing pains mark first season

A record of 2-11 does not come easy.

After a nine year hiatus, the St. John’s lacrosse program finished its inaugural season with an eight-game losing streak, effectively clinching what was a statistically disastrous year.

For head coach Rick Sowell and the rest of the Red Storm, losing was an unwelcome motif.

“It was tough for me and a lot of our players, especially coming from pretty successful programs,” Sowell said.

The 2005 schedule opened in early February with a pair of preseason blowout losses to national powerhouses Duke and Army. During the game against Duke, starting goalie Dave Saccente broke his thumb, leaving the Red Storm without its best goaltender for several weeks.

Backup Matthew Ducca took over for Saccente, and on Feb. 19, St. John’s earned its first win in an inspiring scrimmage victory at home against a solid program in Quinnipiac.

The club followed its first preseason win with its first regular season victory, as the Red Storm defeated fellow first-year program Robert Morris on the road.

A 1-0 record was a hopeful start for the beginning of March, as the team traveled to Fairfield for the first of a three-game stretch against some tough competition.

Three games would lead to three blowouts as St. John’s youth was consistently exposed at the hands of ECAC powerhouse Georgetown.

A win against Hartford at home brought the inexperienced Johnnies some concrete success while so often depending on moral victories.

Unfortunately, that would be the last taste of victory that the Red Storm would enjoy, as a dismal stretch of eight straight losses would immediately follow a hopeful showing at home.

The losing started rather ironically, however, as the Johnnies traveled to Loyola in what was expected to be another blowout loss. St. John’s responded well to regaining Saccente in net, as they held the Greyhounds close the entire game, losing only by a 6-3 score.

After missing out on a near upset against Air Force and losing 9-6 to an exceptional Rutgers program, the Red Storm faced then 0-8 Lafayette, a team that Sowell had singled out at the beginning of the year as one he thought his club had a chance to beat.

The injury bug again bit the Johnnies, as face-off specialist Devin Madden injured his shoulder in the Rutgers game. Madden would be sorely missed, as St. John’s lost several face-offs late in the game, one of which cost the Johnnies a chance at their third win.

After a gutsy fourth quarter wraparound goal by freshman attackman Tom Michaelsen, one that knotted the score at 4-4, Lafayette won a face-off with just a minute left in the game, easily stormed downfield, and netted what would prove to be the game-winner and the most devastating loss of St. John’s inaugural season.

After the game, Sowell could only shake his head in disgust as he repeatedly remarked, “I can’t believe we lost that game.”

“The low point was the three-game stretch at home,” Sowell said.

The remainder of the season was completely composed of losses against the team’s toughest competition, yet Sowell managed to keep the teams collective head up and moving forward.

“Last year was one of those years that I was glad that the season was over but I just wanted next year to start,” Sowell said. “I know a lot of coaches, the last thing they’re thinking about is September, but I just want to keep going.”

As for next year, the Red Storm will prosper from a year of experience and a new recruiting class, one that should create a few new impact players

“We feel like we definitely have got some guys that will make us more competitive, but we’re not quite there yet,” Sowell said. “We’re going to improve, there’s no question we’re going to improve.”

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