(Photo Courtesy of St. John’s Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Justin Turri (first season, 2022-Present)
St. John’s 2022 Record: 2-12 (0-5 Big East)
Key Departures: Jonathan Huber (A), Dylan Willis (M), Matt Duncan (SSDM)
Key Returners: Brian Kelly (A), Caleb Zuhoski (A), Corey Hall (D), Kaden Quirk (G)
Transfer Additions: Sean Duffy (M, Hampden-Sydney), John Schirtzer (D, Maryland)
St. John’s has been locked in the basement of the Big East for sometime now. The Red Storm haven’t won a Big East contest since 2016, is a decade removed from its last winning season (2013), and 11 years removed from its last postseason appearance (2012), where St. John’s reached the Big East Championship game.
Following its two-win season this past spring, St. John’s underwent its first head coaching change in 16 years. That change saw the Red Storm hire Michigan offensive coordinator Justin Turri to be the next head man in Queens. Turri is now tasked with trying to turnaround this program on his native Long Island and lead them back towards their winning ways.
It’s uncertain as to how good this team will be in the immediate with Turri now leading the way. But with some of the young talent remaining, there is a reason to believe that the pieces are in place for this program to start its trend upward sooner rather than later.
Can Brian Kelly Take The Reins of The Offense?
Last season, the Red Storm had three 30-plus point-getters. Two were seniors Jonathan Huber (40G/6A) and Dylan Willis (9G/22A), both of whom have moved on. The third one was freshman attackman Brian Kelly who tallied 44 points off 24 goals and 20 assists, breaking the program’s single-season freshman point record.
After being one of the best freshman in the Big East a season ago, he heads into his sophomore season as the leading returner for a St. John’s offense that had its fair share of struggles last season as they averaged 8.9 goals per game. He is one of just two returning top five scorers for this team, along with junior attackman Caleb Zuhoski (9G/15A).
In 2022, Kelly proved to be a very consistent playmaker. Seeing a lot of time behind the cage at X, he showcased his ability to use his speed to get a step on his defender, turn the corner past GLE, and sting the back of the cage. He also proved to be a reliable feeder, often connecting with the team’s leading scorer Jonathan Huber. Now, Kelly is the main attraction and it’ll be interesting to see how he takes on that changes and steps up to be the true leader on the offensive end.
How Much Can Kaden Quirk Progress?
Another freshman who saw a ton of time and was goalie Kaden Quirk. A day one starter in between the pipes, the Massachusetts native made 169 saves with a 41.5% save percentage as the anchor for a defense that struggled overall, allowing an average of 18.3 goals per game.
Despite the overall struggles of the defense, Quirk made much headway. His 169 saves marked the most for any freshman in program history since 2005 (program reinstatement). It’s also just eight shy of the all-time program single-season record since 2005. Quirk ranked third in saves among freshman in DI this past season and made 15-plus saves five different times last spring.
Following a freshman season which saw Quirk have his fair share of ups and downs before eventually finding his footing and battling as the anchor of the Red Storm defense, things can only go up. And as far as the approaching 2023 season is concerned, how much improvement should be expected from the 5-foot-9 shot stoppers.
Who Leads The Way For The Rope Unit?
As mentioned above, the St. John’s defense was a unit that very much struggled last season as it allowed 18.3 goals per game. A bright spot on that end of the the Red Storm, however, was its rope unit and its consistent production. Matt Duncan (21GB/15CT) and Tom Urena (15GB/10CT) served as the Red Storm’s top SSDM and LSM as seniors last season and have both moved on.]
Danielo Parkinson transferred in from Howard CC ahead of last season and thrived at the SSDM position, causing six turnovers and grabbing 18 ground balls. He is the top returner from a season ago as far as the St. John’s rope unit is concerned.
With not too much veteran or experienced talent returning, how this rope unit comes together and how impactful it can be – both on defense and in transition – will be an intriguing development to watch with this team.
Potential Breakout Player
Connor Kalmus, Midfield, Senior
A consistent reserve midfielder, Kalmus has a career total of 21 points off 11 goals and 10 assists through his time with the Red Storm. Last season, he tallied seven points off five goals and two assists. Now in 2023 with some holes to fill in that top six, Kalmus could be an answer.
St. John’s brings in a seven-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts, per the Lacrosse Bucket Recruiting Database. It is a defensive-heavy class with three players being on that end.