Kicking into Gear

St. John’s squared off against New York Tech the weekend before Valentine’s Day in a physical exhibition match dominated by the Red Storm, who won by a score of 13-4.

As a new season begins, the lacrosse team and administration face small challenges such as the new rule of checking the sticks and not checking in with the officials about substitutions. The most important change to the lacrosse program, however, is an overall brand new coaching staff.

The first-year head coach Jason Miller was previously the three-year first assistant at the University of Massachusetts, where he worked with the defense and face-off units, resulting in the Minutemen’s first NCAA national title game in 2006. His goal for the team is to use the majority of the team’s experience to his advantage, as well as improving their clearing game, ability to shoot the ball, play a faster pace and win more games. Miller also assigned as assistants: Dan Paccione and former Red Storm captain John Kutner. Paccione, who is currently the offensive coach, is also a midfielder for Major League Lacrosse’s Chicago Machine, while Kuter, a junior college All-American, will coach the defense.

In the first half, the Red Storm had 18 ground balls, four saves and took 22 shots, giving the team a 5-3 lead. The lead attacker for the Storm, Tom Michaelsen, foreshadowed the victory in the first half with two goals and an assist. By the end, midfielder Justin O’Donnell (who leads the returnees), midfielder Jack Rosson, who had 13 points last season, and Tom Michaelson each had two goals and two assists.

As the game progressed, the Bears highest number was their 15 penalties-not to overshadow the breakthrough efforts of freshman attacker Austin Carino, who had a game high of two goals, or the athletic catches and ground balls of midfielder Jack Messina.

By the end of the fourth, penalty flags and turnovers were waved more often than sticks-not to mention a moment a player had a ball lodged into his facemask resulting in a timeout. It all caused the Johnnies’ head coach to end the game a minute early.

The Red Storm have another challenging schedule for the 2007 season with five league opponents ranked in the Top-25 preseason polls. The team will travel to Lewisburg, Penn. on Feb. 17 to start their regular season against Bucknell while their first home game is expected on March 3 against the Georgetown University Hoyas, who finished last season fifth in the STX/USILA final polls with an 11-2 record.