Syracuse Edges Albany in Nail Biter

Syracuse Edges Albany in Nail Biter

Syracuse Edges Albany in Nail Biter

Syracuse Edges Albany in Nail Biter

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—In another exciting game against an Upstate New York rival, Syracuse survived the fast-paced attack of Albany, 14-13, in a game wrought by tension at the Carrier Dome on Friday night.

Today’s game was Senior Day in the Dome. Before the game, seniors Jay Pfeifer, Brooks Neal, Scott Ditzell, Jake Plunket, Jarett Park, Andrew Boyle, Chris DiMarco, Ryan Hogan, Geoff Keough, and Kevin Gowin all were escorted to midfield by their parents and honored for being a part of the Syracuse lacrosse community.

From the opening whistle it was apparent this was not the Albany used to getting beat up by Syracuse. This team played inspired and looked to really take it to Syracuse early. Albany senior goalie Kevin Rae looked strong when he denied a shot by Orange freshman Greg Niewieroski from about a yard off the crease. Albany got their first goal when senior Luke Daquino found junior Chris Martocchia, who caught and shot before the slide came to finish him off. Daquino looked like the general of the offense for Albany, often starting plays out of his stick and constantly using his field vision to move the ball to open players.

Syracuse tied about 90 seconds later when junior Brian Crockett got a step around his defender and shot a low burner under Rae. After a five-goal game last week, Crockett found himself again playing middy, this time posting a six-goal game.

“I guess in a sense I feel it’s a little bit more comfortable,” Crockett said after the game about his switch to middy. The junior entered the program playing midfield, and saw minutes there last season too. “I think it’s been a nice change for me. I play on a good midfield.”

Desko elaborated on that after the game, explaining that with sophomore Steven Brooks and junior Greg Rommel also being big offensive threats on that midfield, it is hard to determine where they will put their fourth pole.

“It creates match up situations with that midfield,” Desko said. “It gets him out in front of the cage with that great dodging ability.” On the idea of Crockett being pushed back to a mostly attack role, Desko snickered, “He had 5 goals last week, 6 this, it would be pretty hard to move him back down.”

Junior Brett Bucktooth would be the next to get on the board for the Orange. After having a goal nullified because he dove into the crease, on the next possession Bucktooth started at X, wrapped around the cage, and scored on a bounce shot. But Albany came right back. Freshman Derek Dale carried and hit sophomore Frank Resetarits, who quickly fired using the sliding defenseman as a screen.

The game was full of tough transition play. Both Albany and Syracuse were riding very aggressively, forcing several turnovers. Both teams also tried to press the issue whenever they had numbers. Syracuse stole an early goal out of transition. As the midfield moved the ball down on the clear, Niewieroski settled the ball in on offense. Quickly moving the ball in a triangle of passes, Niewieroski threw across the back of the cage to freshman Mike Leveille who immediately hit Bucktooth cutting towards cage for the goal.

The swapping of scoring continued for most of the game, with no team ever leading by more than two. Albany retied the score as Daquino found Resetarits who was able to just stand and shoot despite being covered by Syracuse sophomore Steven Panarelli. Albany then took the lead when their deadly tandem of Daquino and sophomore Merrick Thomson found their groove. Daquino drove and kicked to Thomson about 10 yards off crease. Thomson quickly caught and fired, beating Syracuse senior goalie Jay Pfeifer between his legs.

The second quarter started as fast as the first. Orange senior Jarett Park flew down field using his impressive wheels, and took a well placed shot that Rae was able to deflect with his arm. But on the same play Albany freshman Craig McDonald got a one-minute slashing penalty. On the ensuing man-up, as the penalty wound down, Bucktooth got the ball up top, dropped his stick for the shot, then threw a nasty little stick fake to step around the sliding defender, and scored the man-up goal on a low shot between Rae’s legs.

Crockett added another when Park carried into the box and hit Crockett as he was curling around the cage. Crockett caught it and stuffed it in high, putting the Orange up 5-4. Then Park got a goal of his own when senior Scott Ditzell hit him with a clearing pass and Park just blew past everyone and scored on a lefty bounce shot.

But soon the Albany transition offense started clicking, proving to be a valuable weapon throughout the game. Senior Ryan Olmstead snagged a groundball and carried over on the clear finding Daquino, who immediately passed across the face of the goal to Thomson who punched it in for the score.

Syracuse tested Rae throughout the rest of the quarter, but he played his angles well, and Syracuse shooters kept taking rippers into Rae’s stick. With 1:17 left Syracuse called a timeout to establish a last play. But Rae thwarted that too, making a nice save on a low shot from Bucktooth, ending the quarter with Syracuse on top 6-5.

Pfeifer opened up the second half with a very impressive save, stuffing a shot on the doorstep. The save was his 700th, making him just the 17th goalie in NCAA Division I history to achieve such a feat, the only active goalie with such distinction, and the first goalie to do so since Tillman Johnson of University of Virginia did last year. After this game, with just 60 more saves Pfeifer can tie Jamie Molloy for tenth in saves all time, and first in saves in Syracuse history.

After the save Park cleared. The ball spun around to Leveille behind, who hit Crockett cutting down the wing. Crockett caught and scored on the barely exposed far side of the cage.

Albany was brewing a three-goal run of their own. First the speedy freshman Jordan Levine hit Martocchia on the crease for a goal. Moving the ball with very crisp passing, Resetarits scored off an assist from Thomson. Then after some dumb turnovers and sloppy play by Syracuse, Albany found themselves with a one-minute man-up from a cross-checking penalty on Ditzell. During the man-advantage Pfeifer made a tough save on a low Thomson shot from the crease, but Thomson was able to get the ball in the same spot again, this time beating Pfeifer high.

Crockett tied the game again and put an end to the Albany run. He caught a ball on the wing, moved towards the ball to step around his defender, and shot, beating Rae to the off-hip side. But Thomson’s hot hand stayed on pace with Crockett’s. Albany won the faceoff and quickly brought the ball down and established a fast break. Thomson worked the ball over to Martocchia who scored while Pfeifer was caught out of position.

Both teams then exchanged exciting transition plays. Park stripped the ball and flew down field with it, running over an Albany player, but missed the feed to Leveille on the crease. Then Albany tried to run it right back, established another good fast break, but they too missed the feed on the crease. Junior Greg Rommel tied the game for Syracuse when he caught the ball and rolled around his man firing the bouncer for the score. Syracuse was able to steal the lead in the last second of the third quarter. Senior Jake Plunket brought the ball into the box, pulled out to the side because he knew he had Crockett trailing, and flipped the ball over to Crockett as he stepped in the box. Crockett immediately caught and ripped the underhand shot to Rae’s off stick side right as time expired, putting the Orange up 10-9.

Albany opened up scoring in the fourth quarter. Freshman Mike Ammann carried the ball behind cage, then he kicked the ball back over the goal to hit Thomson who fired the high hard shot for the score. But Syracuse answered right back as Crockett pulled the ball out to the wing and then hit a cutting Leveille for the score. Bucktooth added another when he drove behind the cage, established a great pick play with Leveille where their men collided with each other, and wrapped around cage to score.

But Albany made defensemen look silly too. Levine got the ball on the wing and was getting overplayed by Plunket. Levine kept toying with beating him, and finally just blew past him to go straight at the cage for a goal. Still it seemed Crockett would have the answer if his team did not. He pulled the ball out of the box to establish a drive from up top. Coming down he rolled back and around a pick and got off a shot that beat Rae low.

Albany’s transition game would sting Syracuse again as Albany carried down and the Syracuse defense refused to cover the point man until too late. In the ensuing disorganization, Resetarits fed Daquino who fired a laser under the crossbar.

The deciding goal emerged from the most tumultuously exciting 20 seconds of the game. Pfeifer stuffed a high shot by Martocchia, but the rebound got away and bodies and sticks began to fly in a melee around the crease. Suddenly Syracuse senior Andrew Boyle popped out with the ball and carried it up field, but met a hard Albany ride. He threw the ball towards his attack’s end as he got hit out-of-bounds. Rae came out to try to make the play on the ball, but Leveille snagged it first and scored on the long pole trying to cover the cage.

“It was really just a lucky bounce,” Leveille said after the game. “It bounced right to me, and with a long stick in the net I had to finish that one.”

Albany would get some late game heroics of their own though. Thomson, attempting to strap the team on his back, caught a pass from Martocchia during a fast break and beat Pfeifer low with 1:33 left. The Albany faithful traveled the two hours down Route 90 to Syracuse in numbers. They made their presence felt through the game, but began growing particularly excited at the end, turning the Dome into a bubbling cauldron of tension. During the last few plays fans were leaning out of their seats, quickly going from rally cries to silent anticipation. I couldn’t even keep myself from tapping my pen incessantly.

Albany won the next faceoff and called a timeout with 1:12 remaining. They worked a play giving senior Brendan Russell the last shot, but Russell was denied on a great save by Pfeifer. The ball squirted all the way up to midfield where Bucktooth was able to grab it and maintain possession while receiving a barrage of checks and hits. Syracuse called a timeout with six seconds left and Mike Leveille ran out the clock, giving Syracuse the exciting 14-13 victory over Albany.

Syracuse held the edge in shots, 48-31, ground balls, 41-21, and faceoffs, 19-11. Rae actually had a stronger day in cage than Pfeifer, taking the saves battle 14-11, but Pfeifer made the right ones at the right times, giving his team the chance to win.

Many of the SU players expressed some frustration from playing so many close games. They understood it could help them come playoffs, but it is physically taxing and frustrating when the team doesn’t play to the level they know they can. But, as Park appropriately summed it up, “A win’s a win”

“We just took Syracuse to the last second of the game,” Albany Head Coach Scott Marr said after the game. “We will walk out with confidence…but we lost…We came in here and played hard. That intensity and fortitude is what this team is all about.”

“I think a couple of things go the other way, and we win this game,” said Daquino.

Albany heads home to play University of Maryland, Baltimore County next Saturday night at 7:30. Syracuse plays the University of Massachusetts at Amherst at 1 Saturday afternoon. Both teams have serious playoff implications riding on next week’s games.

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ummhmm (nt)
    by (#72115) on 4/23/05 @10:00PM
(no text)
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Don't act Suprised
    by (#96158) on 4/24/05 @12:38PM
Everyone should understand the regular season is a Pre-season for SU.
SU's real season is the post-season!
In the post season everyone has Athlete's so coaching actually plays a part in the outcome. There are only 2 teams with Coaches worth mentioning since Princeton is out.(don't cry out for Dom S. He has done less with more since he got to UVA) IF Dom doesn't figure himself a way out of it early in the post season UVA can make the Final 4.
((1 championship with the talent for 5 let's be honest about it Dom!))
Duke is having a nice season and they will get to the final 4, they will be happy with it and that will be it for Duke.
People will say they are suprised when the 2 teams play in the championship game but it will be a good old match-up of contrasting styles and actually no suprise at all.
I will pick the team that likes to run and gun because teams that play to win are more fun to watch than teams that play not to loose.
Memorial Day 2005 final score JHU-8 SU-12!
Don't act Suprised!
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I'll agree
    by (#63787) on 4/24/05 @3:54PM
...with everyting you just except....JHU plays great lacrosse, they control the ball, they know how to move it, and they really know how to score....they are unbeatable this year, and i am expecting them to take everything undefeated
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Just don't be surprised
    by (#96158) on 4/24/05 @7:43PM
Don't let it surprise you when it happens!!!
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too falfogorden
    by (#65203) on 4/24/05 @8:16PM
Hopkins is a good team, and their program always will be. When Division I lacrosse comes to mind, and people start talking about the final four, everyone should have the same teams in mind, they just pop in peoples heads, even if one of the teams had an off season. There is about 5 teams that will always come to mind when you say "final four", and they are Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Virginia. Those have been the top 4 dominate lacrosse programs for years, and plenty of years to come! But, this year is not Hopkins year to win it all, I agree, Syracuse is goig to bring home # 10 this year. Lately, Leveille, Crockett, Bucktooth, Brooks, Rommel, Plunket, and Park have all been playing good, and playing good consistantly. So tell me, when 'Cuse was playing with a good one man showing against Hopkins and Virginia, and they came out with only a 1 goal loss, and one of those was in overtime, what do think the outcome will be when all 7 of those players are hot consistantly through the game? This last part of the season has been a whole different SU team. Stronger, Faster, Quicker, Smarter. They will be unstoppable when the NCAA Tournament comes around, and DONT BE surprised when they upset Hopkins and win yet anouther national championship.
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    by (#101677) on 4/25/05 @1:33AM
I have to agree. Sracuse had a slow start but the few weeks they have been strong. But, it was surprising to see they only beat albany by 1. But, hey a win is a win. And they'll make the final 4 for a 23rd year and bring home the title.
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(no subject)
    by (#44236) on 4/25/05 @2:31PM
"the regular season is a pre-season for SU?" Give me a break. Maybe in past seasons. Albany should have beaten SU, plain and simple. Albany is a good team, and people need to realize that. Don't make excuses, SU should be happy that they escaped with a W. Don't be suprised if SU lands Albany in the first round. Bet they don't want that rematch.
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Playoff Matchup
    by (#96158) on 4/25/05 @3:18PM
I'm going to need your help on this one. Tell me--how much playoff experience does the Albany Coaching staff have? Actually I need you to tell me Albany's head coach's name??
Albany does have a Real Nice team this year--they have nice wins vs UMASS and Dartmouth--but they need to draw someone other than SU in order to move further than the first round.
The Athlete's at SU are all starting to play as a team and close games only help make them a stronger team.
There are 4 rosters in Div I that Desko could coach to the Championship this year but none of the other 3 coaches with those teams can beat Desko with his team!!!
Name a better playoff coach--you can't!!
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(no subject)
    by (#44236) on 4/25/05 @3:41PM
Lots of experience. Marr has brought his team to the last two NCAA tournaments, and was an assistant on the Maryland team under Dick Edell for six years. During that time they made 5 NCAA appearances, and were national runners 95, 97,98. He was on the 87 national championship team at Hopkins and was national runner up in 89.

As far as naming a better playoff coach the answer is easy. Bill Tierney. Probably will go down as one of the best coaches in History.
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Marr's learning curve
    by (#96158) on 4/25/05 @3:50PM
Tierney is a great coach but should not be in the post season this year(where is his program going?)
I copied this from Albany's website:
Marr Named 2006 U.S. Lacrosse Assisant
Baltimore, Md. -- University at Albany's Scott Marr has been named one of three assistants for the 2006 U.S. Men's Lacrosse Team. Syracuse's John Desko was chosen as the U.S. team's head coach in December.
Sounds like Marr will get his opportunity to learn first hand from the Master.
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(no subject)
    by (#44236) on 4/25/05 @4:42PM
I didn't say that Princeton was going to make the tournament this year. That goes without saying. But Tierney is the best coach. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Desko is "The Master" but he is a great coach, nobody can take that away from him. Don't forget, he had the priveledge of being under Roy Simmons for 16 years, so he had a good "master." Marr also had a great teacher in Dick Edell. Probably one of the most respected coaches ever.

Albany lost because they couldn't contain Crockett. The kid is sick. He would come in as a middie and create matchup problems, as sometimes UA was caught guarding him with a SSDM. That is a big no-no.
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    by (#65203) on 4/25/05 @6:07PM
haha kid, They cant contain crockett?? is that it? I mean Leveille was (2,2) Bucktooth was (4,0) pfft, sounds like they cant contain alot of people. and you wanna know why Crockett has played Midfield? Because Desko knows that if crockett plays middie, then noone can guard him, infact, noone can and it shows. Last two games Crockett has played Middie, and he has 11 goals!!, so know every teams game plan for SU to take them down in the tourny, is DESTROYED!! they have a cupple weeks to think of a new one. and when they do, i bet Desko will move a few other players at middie and down at attack, like bucktooth, and maybe we will see alot more out of Park and Plunket. Let me tell you something, Desko knows his game and he is the best coach out there to take his team to the National Championship title. Desko is gunna mix up his team, make more threats on offense, and still have a tough defense, when tourny time comes around, Desko knows what hes doing, and he does it well. Crockett has been only one change thus far, and hes produced 11 goals in two games with that move, Desko has many more tricks up his sleeve, and sooner or later, youre gunna find out what they are. But Desko knows what it takes to take his team to the N.C. title, and thus far, hes doing it, and will continue to do it. Desko is a great coach, and knows how to mess up a teams game plan, and thus far its working, and thats why the very talented SU TEAM will bring home N.C. #10. And by team, i mean a very talented coaching staff, and players.
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there is no way
    by (#99329) on 4/25/05 @7:37PM
Hopkins this year is just way to dominate. I watched the Duke game on espnu and Hopkins played a bad game and still beat Duke. I really dont thin su will beat them but here is a chance. final four predictions however first Su has to make the tourney which i think they will
1.JHU-great team looking for an udefeated reg. season with wins over virginia and duke
2.Duke- came close to knocking off the 1 team JHU lost in 2OT this year is still just a rebuilding year for duke with there twon leading scorers being a sophmore and a freshmen
3.Cornell-this team has proved it can play with the big dogs this year and has the senior leadership to get to the final four
4. Syracuse- If they make the tournament they will make it to the final four they are great in the tourney and have proved they can play with anyone
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    by (#65203) on 4/25/05 @9:15PM
Your, definately right, I think your final four predictions mite be pretty accurate. But i dont get why alot of the people out there think that Syracuse is a bad team, i mean, yeah they had their tough losses and some losses that shouldve been an easy win. But does everyone forget they lost to Hopkins in OT, and lost to Virginia by ONE?!?! These are two top teams in the nation that 'Cuse has lost to by ONE!! 'Cuse couldve beaten both of these teams too. So hopefully everyone out there wont forget that 'Cuse has been around strong all season long, and when they start kicking ass in the tourny, dont start complaining and saying when did they get soo good?, and make excuses cuz your team lost or whatever. 'Cuse proved to the nation that even with losing their 7 top players which equaled about 305 points last year, they are still strong and can compete with neone, like always. Its just been alittle bit tighter for them this year, thats all. Cuse def. will be in the tourny, and the def will make the final four, they still have weapons to lead them to another National Championship title, and dont forget it.
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    by (#65203) on 4/25/05 @9:27PM
Im kinda replying to myself but. Seriously i want someone to tell me who makes a better or more talented offensive line than SU. Im just saying, SU is young, and still has one of the best offenses in the nation! Look at all these young guns SU has rite now:

Steven Brooks
Mike Leveille
Greg Rommel
Steve Babbles
Greg Niewieroski
Brendan Loftfus

and dont forget about Brian Crockett, Brett Bucktooth, Jarett Park, and Jake Plunkett. They are so strong offensively and yet so young, its incredible. These guys are so young, and still can play with eachother like they have been a team for 5 years. And when they proved that they can still play with Hopkins and UVA, they are going to be so confident and come out soo strong in the tourny, its very possible you will see 'Cuse in the finals. I would like to see UVA vs. 'Cuse in the National Championship game, that will be one hard fought, hard hitting, electrifying, possibly overtime thriller. Wouldnt you say?
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Memorial Day Predictions
    by (#82697) on 4/26/05 @2:51AM
Everybody's talking about 'Cuse, 'Cuse, Cuse'... They just beat Albany by one goal. Yeah, Albany's a good team, but they aren't NCAA Championship worthy, not by a long shot. The Orange are too young and the offense will likely buckle under the pressure of playing such a large game, if they even get there. Yes, Crocket's legit, and Pfeiffer is as money as they come, but I have to count Cuse out this year because of the complete and utter lack of Powell, who is wuite possibly the most dynamic playmakers ever to pick up a stick.

My predictions for Final Four:

1. Hopkins - Harrison is the best player in the country and will win the Tewaarton. Two spectacular Rookies in Rabil and Huntley, a great goalie who's seen enough action in big time games this year to deal with the pressure of a Championship game, and a defense that boasts fifty starts betweent the three of them. This is the year of the Blue Jays.

2. Duke - Danowski leads in points. Greer is second in goals. They are two of the most dangerous and talented players in the nation and will perform well no matter what. Fenton is one of the most underrated keepers around. I don't think that they will win, but they'll push Hop to the limit and then come back next year and win.

3. Goergetown - They beat 'Cuse once, they will beat 'Cuse again. Merrill is a man possessed on the field, and is the only real threat to Harrison and his Tewaarton hopes. The main question for the Hoyas is whether or not they can perform like we all know they can. Corno, the very best in the nation last year, is struggling with self-esteem and confidence issues. D'Andrea is too inconsistent, but they can't pull him for Kass because of his experience and the potential for Kass to crack. They won't make it to the finals, unless Hop and Duke get paired off in the semis and then they pull off a massive upset against...

4. Virginia - Ward is a legit Tewaarton cantidate and will take over a game. Bateman will strip the ball from you no matter how hard you try and protect it, and DeVilliers is the best F/O man in the country. The defense is solid, but, like G-Town, the chances lie in the question marks and whether or not they perform well. Turner in the cage. 18 saves in a one goal win against 'Cuse, five saves in a two goal loss to the Hop. Dixon, so much potential, hardly any proof that he can deliver, but he has! Christmas, oh Johnny... on again off again. If he can get back to 2003 form he and Ward will dominate and they will have a good shot at taking it.

That's my two (or fifty) cents.
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Harrison best in the country???
    by (#48113) on 4/29/05 @4:24PM
are you kiddin me, at the Cuse game I couldnt even tell if he was the best guy on Hopkins. Except for a couple midis on Cuse completely forgetting how fast he could be and getting beat down the side of the box, and no memorable assist(i think he had 2) he couldnt beat anybody with an actual move up top. Great athlete with speed but not close to the best player in the country.
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    by (#72115) on 4/27/05 @4:00PM
that would be soooooooo sick....
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