Villanova Topples No. 19 St. John's to Go 4-0 in the Big East

Queens, N.Y. (April 13, 2013) No. 19 St. John's (7-4, 2-3) ultimately just didn't have enough answers for a surging Villanova (5-6, 4-0) squad and lost 13-11 on Jack Kaley Day at DaSilva Memorial Field in front of 1,138 fans.

The Red Storm was shorthand against the Wildcats playing without the program's all-time saves leader Jeff Lowman as Harry Burke started his first career game between the pipes. Burke filled in admirably stopping 13 Villanova shots.

Kevin Cernuto led St. John's in points with three goals and two assists, as the junior recorded his seventh hat trick in the last eight games. Alex Lagodich and Ryan Fitzgerald both scored two goals from the midfield for St. John's. The Wildcats were able to hold the NCAA's leading scorer to his lowest point total of the season, as Kieran McArdle finished with a goal and an assist.

Mark DiFrangia anchored the close defense with three groundballs and four caused turnovers on the afternoon.

It was the first time since the end of the 2011 season that St. John's lost back-to-back games. St. John's falls to 3-2 at home and 5-3 in games decided by two goals or less on the year. The Red Storm was outshot 47-to-39 and lost the groundball battle 44-to-28.

Eric Gartner had a career day for Villanova with three goals and two assists, while freshman John Kluh continued his recent success with three goals and an assist. Max Hart gave the midfield a trio of hat tricks as he also finished with three goals.

There was a pregame ceremony honoring legendary lacrosse coach Jack Kaley, who was an assistant at St. John's from 1986-1992 and served as head coach for NYIT from 1993-2009. In 17 seasons at NYIT, Kaley posted a record of 185-33, earning him the highest all-time winning percentage for all Division I and II coaches. A 2010 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, Kaley won four Division II National Championships at NYIT and was also a four-time USILA Coach of the Year.

A couple of Burke saves and a Cernuto goal at 11:39 in the first quarter got the Big East match-up jumpstarted. Villanova responded with an impressive four-goal run to establish the aggressive offensive style early on. Hart tallied a pair, followed by Gartner and Kluh as the Wildcat midfield got off to a hot start. Cernuto took a feed from Colin Keegan and converted the Red Storm's first EMO goal of the game at 2:18 and Lagodich pulled St. John's to within one at 4-3 with 1:41 left in the first.

Gartner scored his second on the Wildcats' first possession of the second quarter and Kluh extended the lead to 6-3 at the 10:55 mark. Cernuto completed a first half hat trick at 10:00 with his second unassisted goal of the game.

Lagodich followed suit once again to pull the Red Storm within one for the second time on the day. The senior midfielder then set up Fitzgerald for a straight-on bomb to tie the game at 6-6 and force Villanova to call timeout and quell the Johnnies' momentum. The Wildcats responded appropriately and Jack Rice scored a man-up goal to give Villanova a 7-6 halftime lead.

The Red Storm started the third quarter two-men down and the Wildcats took advantage with a Tim Mulrenan goal just 22 seconds into the half. Keegan finished on the doorstep off a feed from Cernuto to scrap back to within one at 8-7 with 13:05 left in the third.

A minute later, Fitzgerald hit another long strike on the man-up with an assist from Connor Mullen to give the junior his second tying goal of the game. It would be the last tie of the game as Rice and Kluh scored consecutive goals for the Wildcats to reclaim the lead at 10-8. McArdle scored his first goal of the day with 7:38 remaining in the third, but scores from Gartner and Hart had the Red Storm trailing 12-9 heading into the final quarter.

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