Red Storm Lacrosse Looks to Take Next Step in 2013

Sophomore Stefan Diachenko will be looking to break out in 2013 and will be called upon to bolster a man-up unit that finished eighth in the NCAA at 44.8 percent clip last season. Terence Leach thrived in EMO situations last year, leading the Big East in extra-man scores, and Diachenko will be given many of the same opportunities as the Red Storm tries to replace the All-Big East Second Team honoree.

Midfield

With the departures of Leach, Harry Kutner and Matt Hurst there is plenty of opportunity and pressure to develop among the unit. New substitution rules implemented by the NCAA have eliminated the horn and, with all substitutions now being made on the fly, the midfielders will often be forced to contribute on both ends of the field.

One player who appears ready to handle the extra responsibility is junior Connor Mullen who contributed mostly on the defensive end in 2012. In the preseason, Mullen has shown plenty of promise and has shown the potential to be a factor on the offensive end. Classmates Ryan Fitzgerald and Alex Lagodich are the other top returners in the midfield. Fitzgerald, a dangerous sniper from the outside, scored 13 goals last season including the game-winner in overtime at Georgetown. Lagodich, an imposing presence at 6'4, will look to bully his way in from the top of attack towards goal.

Returners Keith Switzer, Donal Flaherty and James Bonnano should all see time in the second midfield unit along with freshman Chris Hughes. Hughes, a product of Long Island power St. Anthony's H.S., should see significant playing time.

Brandon Ayers, the team's top defensive midfielder, is a valuable member of the clearing game for the Red Storm and has consistently displayed the toughness it takes to battle the top midfielders in the Big East. Nick Sherry had a strong end to last season and will see increased minutes in 2013 along with freshman Ricky Cotton whose athletic ability and determination has enabled to him to switch from a long pole to a short stick since coming to Queens.

Defense

Fresh off a second-consecutive Preseason All-Big East selection, Dillon Ayers returns at the long-stick midfield spot as a second-year captain. D. Ayers in your face style makes him an annoyance for the opposition; but also, the driving force for the Red Storm. The long stick midfielder was a unanimous choice in 2013 after picking up 65 groundballs and causing 17 turnovers in 2012. D. Ayers, of Lynbrook, N.Y., was the first St. John's player ever selected to the Preseason All-Big East squad last season. The honor continues a string of accolades for D. Ayers, as he became the third Red Storm player ever chosen in the Major League Lacrosse Draft last week.

Sophomore Chris Fisher Jr. will also see extended playing time at the LSM position as he's developed into one of the Red Storm's more skilled long pole players.

At the close defense position, a solid core of Joe Adonna, Drew Viscusi and Mark DiFrangia will protect the cage for St. John's. All three started at some point last season with Harrison Freid being the lone departure from the rotation. With another year under their belts, and the addition of redshirt sophomore John Bello back from injury, the defensive unit should continue to improve upon last year's 9.67 goals against average.

Specialty

Goalie Jeff Lowman has been a constant between the pipes for St. John's the past three seasons and enters his senior campaign coming off a Second Team All-Big East selection in 2012. The buzz in the preseason has been about how Lowman trimmed down over the summer but his talent will quickly switch the conversation to his play in net. Lowman finished the 2012 season tied for fourth in the nation in saves per game at 11.67 and has a legitimate shot at leaving campus as the all-time leader in saves. Freshman Harry Burke will back up Lowman as he adjusts to the Division I lacrosse game and learns from one of the nation's best.

At the faceoff X, Jordan Rothman enters as St. John's all-time leader in wins with 449 in his career. Rothman picked up 59 groundballs last season and finished above .500 on faceoffs at 160-315. Sophomore Mario Carrera has also continued to develop as Rothman's heir apparent and should get a number of chances to prove himself at the X this season.

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2013-02-15



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