STJ Lacrosse falls late to ranked ‘Nova

The last time the St. John’s lacrosse team played a ranked opponent, they were overpowered throughout their 13-4 loss to Hofstra on March 23.

Saturday, against No. 13 Villanova, the Johnnies held the lead for most of the game, but the Wildcats stormed back in the fourth quarter to win 12-10.

It was the Red Storm’s seventh game of the season decided by three goals or less, and the closest they’ve played
a ranked team.

“We’re right there,” said Head Coach Jason Miller of his team. “We’re playing well right now, and I think we’re peaking at the right time.”

They played one of their best stretches of the season by Miller’s account
in the first ten minutes of the second quarter. Tied, 3-3 at the beginning of the frame, they put home four straight goals from three different players to make
it 7-3 with 5:37 left in the half.

Freshman attacker Tyler Novotny scored twice during the run, including one with a man up.

Villanova ended the half with two goals of their own, and got two more coming out of the locker room to tie the game up at seven.

St. John’s entered the fourth quarter with a 9-8 lead, but Villanova sophomore midfielder Michael Vigilante tied it with 10:57 left and freshman attacker Will Casertano put the Wildcats ahead for good 41 seconds later.

After a third-straight goal with 3:18 left extended the lead to 11-9, senior
defender Jerry Nevin was called for a slash, putting the Johnnies down a man. Villanova took advantage and scored their fourth straight goal of the quarter to make it 12-9 with 1:55 left.

St. John’s sophomore attacker Charlie Holenstein ended the Villanova run with a goal to make it 12-10 with 1:34 left, but the Johnnies were unable to get any closer.

The Red Storm’s fourth quarter struggles were compounded by their struggles on faceoffs. After winning five of six in the third quarter, they won just one of five in the fourth, allowing Villanova to keep possession and milk the clock with the lead.

“We started to press a little bit,” said Miller. “We had to try to force turnovers.

We fouled, and they ended up scoring on the extra man. I don’t know if anything fell apart. I don’t think anything bad
happened, I just think that’s the way the game played out. We had to react to being down a goal and press a little bit, and got the penalty.”

It was the fifth penalty of the game called against St. John’s, including a three-minute penalty for an illegal stick in the first quarter on freshman midfielder Jordan Rothman. Villanova was 2-5 with a man up
while St. John’s was 1-3.

Offensively, the Johnnies were led by Novotny and senior midfielder Tom Manes.

Novotny entered the game with five points on the season, and almost doubled it with a hat trick and an assist for a four-point night.

In goal, freshman Jeff Lowman impressed again. He tied his career high with 16 saves in the fifth start of his career.

“I’m proud of him tonight,” said Miller. “He battled, made some big plays and made some huge saves for us. He really gave us a lift at the right time. He was great tonight.”

The loss puts St. John’s at 5-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big East. They return home Saturday for a conference matchup with Notre Dame. The Irish are just 6-5 overall, but all five of their losses have been by three goals or less. They are coming off of their first conference win of the year, an 11-3 decision over Providence.

“We have to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Miller. “Hopefully we get a couple breaks and things go our way.”