The No. 6 Orangemen lit up the Dome in front of the 8,198 fans in attendance with a convincing Black Jack 15-5 win over Final Four rival No. 4 Princeton. Cuse will make their 21st consecutive appearance at the Big Dance and wasn?t the least bit shy about their intent. What should have been a classic Memorial Day weekend between two great brands of lacrosse fell way short of the mark. The Orangemen out gunned (45 SOG: 36 PU), out ran (46 GB: 29 PU), and simply outplayed the Tigers as a team. Junior Michael Powell was too much for veteran defender Damien Davis to handle this time. No. 22 version 3.0 had a modest day at the office with 4g, 3a. Seniors Liam Banks and Michael Springer had the fever as well (2g, 3a and 4g respectively). Defensively, the Orangemen were Machiavellian and made Tiger Senior Sean Hartofolis log in OT for his hat trick.
While the regular season output of Syracuse has been inconsistent, there is nothing like Tournament time for veterans to pull out old tricks. Today was no exception. End to end Syracuse looked strong. Sophomore keeper Jay Pfeiffer came up big. His defensive supporting cast was in sync on the slides (PU 0/5 on EMO). Although face offs have been a chronic problem for the Tigers, SU face off specialist Chris Bickel dominated in the circle. The Orangemen maintained nearly every loose ball (GBC 46, PU=29). Finally, the potential of the highly touted offensive unit was tapped as SU looked more confident, poised, and effective than ever. Mike Powell had an outstanding day defensively and offensively. Princeton?s defensive specialist Damien Davis said, ?He got a lot of looks out in front of the goal. He was blowing up all over the place.? Princeton Head Coach summed it up, ?This was another wonderful experience in the long line of Syracuse-Princeton matchups. It was a tough loss obviously. Sometimes you have days like these against a team like that. I told the kids yesterday we weren?t playing Gary and Paul (Gail) and Casey and Ryan (Powell), but at times out there today I felt like we were. Congratulations to Syracuse. They were just fabulous today.?
Today?s match up will be the 19th time the Tigers and the Orangemen have gone head-to-head. Syracuse leads the series 11-7 and has won six of the last eight meetings although Princeton won the last meeting.
No. 4 Princeton (11-3) and No. 6 Syracuse (9-5) have had to travel somewhat of a rocky road to the Tournament. The Tigers have lost to Dartmouth 6-13 (26 April), Virginia 7-10, and JHU 8-10. The most impressive win on their schedule was against Syracuse 11-10 (22 March). Syracuse has lost close 1-g games including: UVA 15-16, Princeton 10-11, Rutgers 11-12 (OT), and UMass 13-14 (OT).
The schedules of both teams seem to reflect some mysterious nano-scale inconsistencies given the talent, leadership, and big game experience on both squads. The key difference between these two teams is their post season expertise. Don?t count either team out, although Princeton will have a rough time with a fired up Cuse team and a Dome full of rowdy fans.
Shots on goal: SU (45), PU (36). Saves: SU (16), PU (13), Faceoffs: SU (14/23), PU (9/23), GBC: SU (46), PU (29), Clears: SU (18/20), PU (15/17), EMO: SU (3/5), PU (0/5).
Princeton: Attack - Sophomore Jason Donegar ((Lynbrook, NY), Junior Ryan Boyle (Gilman School, MD), Senior Sean Hartofolis (St. Anthony?s, NY); Midfield - Senior Owen Daly (McDonough School, MD), Senior Brad Dumont (McDonogh School, MD), Senior Matt Trevenen (Montclair, NJ); Defense - Junior Ricky Schultz (Loyola, MD), Senior Damien Davis (Gilman School, MD), Brian Lieberman (Syosset, NY); Goal - Senior Julian Gould (Nyack, NY).
Syracuse: Attack - Junior Brian Nee (Boys? Latin, MD), Senior Mike Springer (Ridgewood, NJ), Junior Mike Powell (Carthage, NY); Midfield - Freshman Brian Crockett (Yorktown, NY), Sophomore Jarett Park(Christian Brother?s Academy, NY), Junior Sean Lindsay (Lakeland Panas, NY); Defense - Junior Dan DiPietro (Brewster, NY), Sophomore Donn Vidosh (Brother Rice, MI), Senior Solomon Bliss (Tully, NY); Goal - Sophomore Jay Pfeifer (Gilman, MD).
Syracuse snagged the faceoff at the first whistle and Mike Springer and Liam Banks brought the ball behind. They weren?t able to generate anything and soon turned over the ball less than 40 seconds later. Neither team would score over the following seven minutes. Princeton brought the ball down and Powell made an unusual appearance on the defensive end. Tiger Sean Hartofolis lined up in front and shot wide of Pfeiffer. Princeton got several more good looks at the net but was unable to capitalize. Matt Trevenen shot high and Hartofolis followed with a shot to Pfeiffer up high. Owen Daly was unable to convert for Princeton. Powell checked Trevenen and worked it down low, but Sean Lindsay shot the ball wide. Powell rocked the stutter up top and got one step on Davis, but his shot went wide. Powell ran the same interference up top drawing the double and the crease D abandoned his mark, Brian Crockett. Powell fed Crockett inside who shot past Gould lower right (1-0) at 8:00.
Syracuse took the faceoff. Powell took two shots on goal and cashed in on his second goal. Powell, who seemed to have an extra step on Davis for the day, took him out wide and shot lefty to hit the lower left corner (2-0) at 6:46. Timeout Princeton.
Orangemen long stick defender Matt Bontaites got the faceoff grounder. Cuse?s Kyle Olson took and shot at Gould who then came up with the stickside save. The Tigers responded with a goal as Trevenen dished the pass from up top to Hartofolis who was cutting downfield opposite side. Hartofolis ripped a lefty shot past Pfeiffer stickside high at 4:20 (1-2).
Both teams would trade turnovers over the following four minutes. Princeton won the faceoff but turned the ball over less than one minute later. At 1:47, Brad Dumont got a shot off on Pfeiffer but it would go wide right. Pfeiffer save the next shot and started the transition. Powell would punctuate the rest of the scoring in the first quarter off an assist from Liam Banks with a worm burner nine-iron back swing shot that hit lower right corner at :54 (3-1).
The Orangemen scored 8 unanswered goals starting in the second quarter and ending late in the third quarter. Cuse out shot the Tigers 12-3 in the second, got to 18 GB (PU=5 GB), and scored with less than 30 seconds into the second quarter. Powell caused a turnover and fed Banks down field who then shot opposite low to high and hit lefty hip (4-1) at 14:37.
SU got the faceoff and Brian Crockett scored within 1:10 off an assist from Sean Lindsay, the first of his two back-to-back assists. Crockett weaved in and out of 5 o?clock traffic in the hole driving to his right and shooting past Gould?s right hip (5-1) at 13:21.
Syracuse was unable to hold possession as Banks was called for :30 slashing. The Tigers were unable to convert on EMO and as they worked the ball quickly around on O, they over threw it. Damien Davis was then called 1:00 trip and Cuse didn?t waste a free dinner. Powell came up with another huge rightside hip goal off an assist from Lindsay up top (6-1) at 10:44.
The Tigers took control of the faceoff, but were unable to manage possession. Jersey-bred Michael Springer got medieval at the top of the box with one heavy-handed crank that tacked top right corner at 6:08 (7-1). The hopes of a Princeton comeback were looking more grey, but not impossible.
Syracuse outscored Princeton 5-2 in the third and the compounded effect of the mountain of Orange pointage was starting to look like an insurmountable challenge. Springer cracked open the third with back-to-back goals. At 13:30, Springer spun on a dime with a Commodore?s 360 and brought out the old school shovel shot that cruised in the lower right corner (8-1). Princeton would get some open tarmac looks at the mesh and then pegged Pfeiffer in the huggies.
Springer got the hat trick at 5:45 as he got a stick facial. The refs released the flags but Springer was already air born on the jumper as he slammed one down in the lower right corner for (9-1). PU Anthony Perna got called for 1:00 slashing and SU converted on an EMO goal from Brian Nee off an assist from Alex Zink at 3:49. Nee shot opposite side and burned one in past Gould?s right shoulder (10-1).
SU took the faceoff and lit up the Dome with a text book fast break series. Banks received the ball from midfield and the quickly passed to Powell who was parked on the crease. Powell shot low right and increased the margin to a perfect 10 (11-1).
Sean Hartofolis finally broke the scoring silence for the Tigers. The attack set up in a 1-4-1 with Hartofolis challenging from up top and working the screens. He snagged the rebound off his shot and worked it in this time at 2:18 (2-11). SU responded a minute and half later on a pretty passing sequence and the Tiger defense was a slide and a quarter to slow to pick up the man. Banks received the ball from up top and quickly dished it off to Powell who was parked yet again on the crease. Powell got a wide open look and demonstrated the range of his shooting skills with a nice lefty touch shot that cleared stickside hip (12-2). Princeton wrapped up the scoring in the third. Jason Donegar finished with a bouncer off the rebound (3-12) at :18.
Princeton opened the fourth quarter with one of their two goals at 14:28. The Tigers took possession of the faceoff and started moving the ball around with more authority. Josh White got the lefty shot in the lower left corner (4-12). Brian Nee broke the optics on the clock with a laser of a lefty shot that hit top right shelf (13-4) at 12:39. Tiger defender Ricky Schultz was called for 1:00 slashing and Springer converted on man up on a low crank that hit lower left corner (14-4) at 8:12.
Tiger Sean Hartofolis scored his last goal of the game at 6:50 on a lefty sweeper that hit lower right corner (5-14). With under five minutes in regulation, Head Coach Desko worked the scrub rub in the SU line up. Princeton was unable to convert on several last ditch attempts on the cage and to add insult to injury, Brett Bucktooth scored with 4 seconds left off a brutal and wide open crank that hit top right corner for 15-5.
It was unfortunate that the game did not live up to its billing. The next round should be more competitive as Syracuse advances to Ravens Stadium where they will go head to head with No. 1 Hop.