From press releases -- CHESTER, Pa. – No. 12 Syracuse (3-1, 1-0 BIG EAST) opened conference play with a 13-11 win versus St. John's (3-2, 0-1 BIG EAST) in the first game of the inaugural Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic on Saturday, March 9 at PPL Park. The Orange's first midfield line of JoJo Marasco, Luke Cometti and Scott Loy combined for 10 points in the victory.
Marasco had a hand in four of SU's first five goals and finished with a team-high five points (one goal, four assists) to earn Whitman's Sampler Player of the Game honors. Cometti matched his personal best with three points (two goals, one assist) and Loy had two goals.
"I think it starts in practice," Marasco said of the chemistry between him and his linemates. "We've been working really hard every day and the coaches have been giving us a lot of opportunities to take some dodges (to score). We're just constantly working together with some good talk and it showed out on the field today."
It was Marasco who helped stake the Orange to a 4-1 lead in the first half. He assisted on goals by Cometti and Derek Maltz in the opening quarter, and struck from 12 yards out with 11:29 to play in the second.
Just as it appeared Syracuse would pull away, the Red Storm responded with a 3-0 run to tie the game on goals by Alex Lagodich, Kieran McArdle and Colin Keegan.
Following the Red Storm scoring spree, a three-goal burst by the Orange resulted in a 7-4 SU lead at the half, and Maltz gave the Orange its biggest advantage (8-4) with a goal at 13:01 of the third quarter.
But again St. John's rallied.
McArdle and Kevin Cernuto each scored twice over the next 2:23 to even the game at 8-8. Both of Cernuto's goals were man-up tallies.
The two teams traded goals for the remainder of the third period with defenseman Brian Megill scoring in transition to give the Orange a 10-9 margin heading into the final 15 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, Cernuto knotted the game again (10-10), scoring unassisted with 13:30 to play. The SU defense rose to the challenge after that, holding the Red Storm to one goal the rest of the way, and the Orange offense netted three of the game's last four goals to seal the win.
In addition to the midfield production, Syracuse received major contributions from Maltz and Kevin Rice. Maltz scored three goals to record his first hat trick of the year. Rice tied his career high with four points (one goal, three assists).
McArdle, the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, paced the Red Storm with a game-high six points (four goals, two assists). Cernuto added three goals and Keegan had two goals and one assist for St. John's.
Red Storm goalie Jeff Lowman finished with 12 saves.
Syracuse outshot St. John's 47-32 for the game and held a 25-23 advantage in ground balls. Faceoffs were even at 13 apiece, however, SU won 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter and junior faceoff specialist Chris Daddio went 4-for-4 at the X in the final period to help the Orange secure the win.
Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome on Saturday, March 16 to face archrival Johns Hopkins. Faceoff is slated for 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
Game Notes: Redshirt freshman Brenny Daly made his collegiate debut running on the second midfield line … For the second straight game, defensive midfielders Steve Ianzito and Matt Pratt combined for a transition goal as Pratt scored 45 seconds into the second quarter off an Ianzito feed … With the win, Syracuse improved to 7-0 all-time against St. John's and 16-3 in BIG EAST regular-season games … SU has won three in a row since losing its season opener to Albany on Feb. 17 ... Penn beat Villanova, 13-9, in the second game of the Independence Classic tripleheader, and Lehigh defeated Penn State in the nightcap, 12-10.