As the St. John's Men's Lacrosse took the field on February 7th to begin their 2015 season, a new era of Red Storm lacrosse began. The most successful class in the program's history, led by the likes of Kevin Cernuto, Colin Keegan, and last year's MLL Rookie of the Year, Kieran McArdle, is now gone after four outstanding seasons in Queens.
But as ninth-year head coach Jason Miller sees it, this is no time for the program to be rebuilding. "We don't talk about what we lost, we don't talk about who's not here," Miller said. "We talk about going out and working hard every day, and getting better every day."
Replacing the 500-plus career points and 300-plus career goals left behind by the attacking line of Cernuto, Keegan, and McArdle seems like an almost impossible task, but the Red Storm will likely look towards their seniors to step up as leaders in 2015.
Among those seniors are Stefan Diachenko and Chris Fisher, who will each be looked towards to provide leadership for a very young St. John's team.
"We've got a young group," Diachenko reiterated. "We've got a couple guys returning, we're kind of just starting from the bottom." With 22 goals in 14 games last season, Diachenko is the leading returning scorer for the Red Storm in 2015, but he believes this year's team is still capable of big things. "No matter how it goes, you know it'll eventually all come together," he said.
For it all to come together this season for the Red Storm, they will need to go through a number of quality opponents, including four teams that made last year's NCAA Tournament. In addition to that, they will also take a trip to Jacksonville, FL next week to take on the Jacksonville Dolphins.
However, many Red Storm players are embracing the challenging schedule that lies ahead of them. "I think it's definitely going to help us," said Fisher, "we definitely understand how important every game is, and it's definitely going to help us as we get deeper into the season."
The Johnnies have played just two games so far on the young season, going 1-1 in a pair of games against non-conference rivals. They opened their season with a tough 10-8 loss at the hands of Rutgers on February 7th, but rebounded this past weekend for a come-from-behind 13-8 victory over Stony Brook on Saturday.
When speaking after their first exhibition game of the season on January 23rd, a disappointing 13-6 loss to UMass, coach Miller said, "I think we looked young, I think we looked inexperienced, and all the things that go along with it, so it's going to be a work in progress."
Whether or not that progress results in the program's first trip to the Big East Tournament since 2012 will remain to be seen.