Syracuse Claims Their 10th NCAA Title in Men's Lacrosse
The Orangemen celebrate with their new trophy as they win their 10th National title over the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. The score was 13-10 and it was held at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts on Memorial Day. Yuchen Nie/DC Sports BoxFoxboro, MA – During last season when Syracuse had a record of 5-8, no one expected them back have a turn around season and head back to the national stage nor did anyone expect the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, who started the season with a record of 3-5, to come back and beat the top-seeded Duke for the spot in the National Finals.
The Syracuse Orange and the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays are two of the most successful men's lacrosse programs and prior to this season, both of them had a record of nine National Championship titles each. In front of 48,000 fans at Gillette Stadium in Boston, MA, these two teams rekindled their rivalry and faced each other on the biggest stage of lacrosse. In the end though, Syracuse showed much more pose and patience compared with the Jays, who were feeling the emotional affects from beating Duke.
The game started with Hopkins drawing a penalty from Kyle Guadagnolo for pushing and Hopkins was able to capitalize with a goal from Paul Rabil, who picked up his own groundball after his shot was deflected off of goalie John Galloway. However, Syracuse soon answered back with a man-up goal of their own from Stephen Keogh. Then, Rabil soon answered back by picking up a ground ball in the defensive end. He sprinted down the field, swim dodged through two Syracuse defenders, and fired a shot to put Hopkins up. Soon after, George Castle assisted Kevin Huntley for a two-goal lead by Hopkins with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Syracuse has the best face-off man in the country (in win percentage) in Danny Brennan, and he proved that by winning the ensuing face-off against Stephen Peyser. Brennan pushed the ball forward, sprinted down the field, and fired a shot to score, all in a span of 6 seconds. However, 19 seconds later with Peyser winning the face-off this time, Steven Boyle managed to score his 19th goal of the season putting the score at 4-2, Hopkins.
The start of the second quarter started off with the teams trading goals. Syracuse started with a goal from Stephen Keogh at the 9:01 mark. The next goal came from Hopkins in a spectacular fashion when Michael Gvozden saved a point-blank shot from Mike Leveille and quickly cleared the ball to Michael Kimmel who fed Kyle Wharton for a point-blank goal at the 7:59 mark leaving the score at 5-3.
However, Syracuse went on a 5-goal run that extended into the third quarter, putting the Orange up 8-5. With the game becoming desperate, Hopkins scored two goals, one by Paul Rabil and Kevin Huntley (assisted by Paul Rabil).
Brendan Loftus answered with a goal, which gave Syracuse a little more breathing room. Hopkins won the ensuing face-off, but soon turned it over. During late third quarter, Hopkins constantly turned the ball over and never gave their offense a chance. Michael Gvozden saw shots from the Syracuse offense; however, he made some incredible saves that lead to a fast break and another goal from Paul Rabil to put Hopkins within one. However, it was Danny Brennan who won the ensuing face-off to give Dan Hardy an open shot at the goal to put Syracuse up by two.
In the fourth quarter, Syracuse started another run that pushed the lead to 13-9, including two goals that came within 10 seconds of each other with the second one coming after an interception by Greg Niewieroski, who then fed Mike Leveille for the goal. With the situation becoming increasingly desperate for Hopkins, the defense started to pick up the pace and cause a turnover in front of Mike Gvozden, who cleared the goal and cause an offside penalty for Syracuse. Hopkins capitalized with a goal by Paul Rabil, assisted by Kevin Huntley. The next five minutes of the fourth quarter was a battle of keep-away and turnovers with Syracuse winning the opening face-off. Then Hopkins' midfield Eric Zerrlaut was called for slashing and the situation became dire. Yet Hopkins held their defense firm and a jittered pass led to a Hopkins possession with a man disadvantage. It was Rabil again who pulled of a stunning move to score when he swam through two defenders, but lost the ball. He fought furiously to regain possession, and picked up with the ball after a stick check and dodged through the entire Syracuse defense to score his 6th goal of the game. However, despite Rabil's efforts, Syracuse managed to keep the ball away from the Hopkins offense in the last two minutes to preserve the title.
The most important stat of this game was the 23 turnovers that the Jays had compared with 18 from the Duke game, and unlike the Duke game, the Jays offense was rather inconsistent and sloppy leading to a lack of quality possessions and relied only on Paul Rabil to carry the team. Hopkins seemed to regress back into the team that lost five-straight rather than the team that upset the Blue Devils two days before. The score would have been much more lop-sided had it not been for Gvozden's 20 saves and Paul Rabil's knack of finding the net.
It's hard to believe that a year ago, the Syracuse lacrosse team finished with a record of 5-8, and had players who felt that they could never achieve what they had on Memorial Day. John Desko, who won three titles prior to this one, threw out everything and started over with new coaching positions and new ideas. He focused on creativity and freedom on the offensive end. On the defense end, Coach Desko emphasized discipline and patience. The risk paid off as for John Desko and the Orangemen won their 10th national title to hold the record of the most men's lacrosse championships won by a program.