The Red Storm fans that filled the make-shift bleachers of DaSilva Memorial Field on Saturday to watch the 2008 lacrosse season begin must have left both a little disappointed and a little optimistic.
Although they had witnessed their team drop its first game of the year to Holy Cross, they also knew that they did so narrowly and without their offensive leader.
Senior Tom Michaelsen, who led the Red Storm in goals and assists in 2007, was unavailable due to illness and St. John’s head coach Jason Miller’s post-game sentiments were obvious. “We need him,” he said.
Both teams worked out the off-season jitters in the opening minutes and action was relatively calm. Eventually junior midfielder, Trevor Michaelsen, broke the offensive silence, firing a shot that went just above the Holy Cross goal. A minute later, St. John’s was on the board with an unassisted goal by Graeme Gillespie.
With a minute remaining in the first quarter, Justin O’Donnell netted his first of the season, giving the Red Storm a 2-0 lead. Tom Manes was given the assist on the play.
And as the whistle blew to start the second quarter, it was obvious that the momentum was still there for the Storm as Jack Rosson won the face-off, ran directly towards goal, and fired in a quick goal three seconds in. Rosson finished the game having won eight of 15 face-offs.
Despite being dominated in groundballs collected in the second quarter, the Crusaders seemed to be gaining both confidence and momentum and they got on the board early in the second with a goal from Luke Marchand after a series of accurate passes.
With less then a minute before halftime, the Crusaders’ Edison Parzanese juked a Red Storm defender behind the net, made his way to the middle of the field and beat goalie Gavin Buckley, cutting the Red Storm lead to 3-2 at the break.
In the second half the same fans who were delighted with the early Storm lead watched that lead disappear among a plague of turnovers and penalties First, they were slapped with two 30-second penalties for pushing, making it hard to attack Holy Cross territory. Holy Cross tied the game when Marchand took a lead pass, and netted his second of the day.
“Five goals are not enough to win,” said Miller. “We missed opportunities and went on a drought offensively.”
St. John’s committed nine turnovers in the third quarter; one of which gave the Crusader’s the lead. The sophomore, Buckley, saved a Holy Cross shot, only to turn the ball over right in front of the goal. The Crusaders’ Chris Smirti picked up the ground ball and immediately fired it past Buckley.
A Toby Banta goal with 1:55 left in the third quarter made it five unanswered goals for the Crusaders and gave them a two-goal lead. And it could have easily been a three-goal lead if not for Buckley’s diving stop at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He finished with seven saves.
All hope that senior Rob Gannon’s low, close-ranged goal to open the scoring in the fourth quarter was a sign of a comeback dissipated a minute later after Banta’s second goal of the day flew by Buckley.
St. John’s failed to convert their final extra-man opportunity after a Crusaders’ illegal check penalty and a few more Storm turnovers in the final two minutes sealed the deal on Holy Cross’s season-opening win.
The team will hit the road for its next game against Quinnipiac on February 23.