Comeback Bid Stalls as No. 19 St. John's Falls at No. 17 Drexel

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 4, 2014) Senior attackman Colin Keegan scored a season-high six points on a hat trick of goals and three assists and No. 19 St. John's cut a six-goal deficit to two midway through the fourth quarter but couldn't complete the comeback in a 16-11 road loss at No. 17 Drexel in non-conference play at a frigid Vidas Field on Tuesday afternoon. The loss evens the Red Storm's record to 2-2 on the season while the Dragons improve to 3-2.

Seniors Ryan Fitzgerald and Kevin Cernuto each added four points on a combined five goals and three assists for St. John's, the former finishing with a hat trick and the latter tallying a team-high four groundballs. The Red Storm completed 17 of 18 clear attempts on the day, forced 22 turnovers and outshot Drexel twice fold, 24-12, after halftime, but the hosts countered by winning 22 of 30 faceoffs, edging the groundball battle, 32-19, and seeing goalie Will Gavrielsen make 13 saves, nine in the second half to slow St. John's comeback bid.

Scoring the first, third and fourth quarters alone, the Red Storm led Drexel, 9-8, on the scoreboard on Tuesday, but the game's decisive period would prove to be the second as the Dragons scored eight goals including seven unanswered while allowing two.

"It's pretty disappointing that the second quarter got away from us like that," said St. John's head coach Jason Miller. "Seven unanswered goals proved to be too big a hole to climb out of. I thought we did a great job of battling back to get it within two, and had a few more really good chances from there, but we just couldn't get over the hump."

St. John's entered the contest ranked fourth in the country in team shooting percentage and lived up to its ranking in the opening 15 minutes, scoring four goals on just seven shots to lead 4-3 after one quarter of play. Cernuto muscled his way to the net to score the Red Storm's first and tie the score at 1-all before senior Kieran McArdle circled the Drexel goal and shot low to make it 2-2. The Dragons scored next to take their third lead of the quarter before Fitzgerald found the back of the net from 15 yards out with St. John's on the man-up and junior Stefan Diachenko put the Red Storm ahead, 4-3, on a feed from Cernuto.

The first 14 minutes of the second quarter would be all Drexel as the visitors opened up a six-goal lead before scores from Keegan and Cernuto halted the hosts' run and got St. John's within four goals at 10-6. The Dragons scored with eight seconds remaining in the first half and took an 11-6 advantage into the break.

The third quarter saw a number of offensive possessions and scoring opportunities from both sides but just three goals, with the Red Storm defense limiting Drexel to a single score in the third 15-minute period. Junior midfielder Nick Sherry netted the first goal of his St. John's career to open the scoring in the second half before Keegan finished in transition on a pass from junior long pole Chris Fisher to send the Red Storm into the fourth quarter trailing 12-8.

After the Dragons scored first in the final period to go up 13-8, St. John's netted three-straight goals to very nearly turn the contest on its head. Keegan completed his hat trick from a Cernuto assist to start the run before Fitzgerald scored twice in a span of 1:08 to get the Red Storm within two at 13-11 with 7:40 to play, first bouncing a long-ranged effort through Gavrielsen's legs before this time utilizing a high bounce to complete his own hat trick while drawing a penalty.

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2014-03-04



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