02/14/2013 2:40 PM ET
St. John's looking for breakthrough season
Talented trio ready to lead Red Storm to new heights
By Eamon McAnaney / SNY.tv
Sniper Kieran McCardle had 60 points a season ago and was an honorable mention All-American. (Courtesy of St. John's)

Conventional wisdom said St. John's was ready to build off a 2012 campaign that saw the Red Storm reach the Big East tournament and upset then No. 2 Notre Dame. Apparently the Johnnies put a little too much stock in conventional wisdom.

"In the fall we went up to West Point and just got smacked around," remembers head coach Jason Miller. "We were in the locker room afterwards and the guys were like, 'What just happened? We're St. John's, we're good.' We spent a majority of the fall thinking we have arrived so at that point we decided no more talk of 2012."

While Miller tries to put a breakthrough season in the rearview mirror there are heightened expectations for 2013 on Utopia Parkway and mainly because of an experienced attack unit. Juniors Kieran McCardle, Colin Keegan and Kevin Cernuto are all entering their third seasons as starters and McCardle is the difference maker.

"He's a triple threat," says his coach, "he's a deceptively good dodger, he has a unique way of getting to the corner and when the defense slides he can find the open man."

The trio combined for 110 points last year but Miller is hoping for even more, "They are continually improving. Almost every day they do something new at practice that jumps out at me."

On defense the tone setter is senior captain Dillon Ayers but the staff is really excited by a new and improved senior goalie Jeff Lowman. Last year Lowman was second team all-Big East but was still motivated to drop 25 pounds. While he is certainly a step quicker to the ball in the cage the biggest impact might be his new status with his teammates.

"He has more street cred now to be a leader," says Miller, "to be honest when you're the last guy in sprints and not making your times it's hard to be a leader. The weight loss has done wonders for his confidence. His motivation to better is great."

While the outside world focuses on the Big East rivalries, the backyard brawls with Stony Brook (Mar. 12) and Hofstra (Mar. 19) might be more important for changing the reputation of the program.

"Those are the games we need to play," explains Miller, "we are at our best when we feel we have something to prove. We like to play the no respect card and winning those games will help show that 2012 wasn't a fluke."

With Yale and Siena also part of the out-of-conference schedule, the Red Storm certainly has a slate that will provide them with an NCAA tournament worthy resume. But obviously they have to win a fair share of their games. There is also the school of thought that maybe by not taking a step backward, the program will take a step forward. Maybe then St. John's lacrosse will have arrived.

Eamon McAnaney is an on-air host for SNY and a contributor to SNY.tv. Follow him on Twitter @EamonMcAnaney.
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