Syracuse uses a career day by Kevin Dougherty of five goals, along with four goals by Brian Nee with a goal and three assists by Mike Powell. Invaluable for the Orange was the role freshman Danny Brennan played in the face-off X, going 16 for 26. Matt Rewkowski added three goals, while Kevin Boland assisted on three Hopkins goals, with Scott Smith holding the Syracuse attack in check for much of the game. In a game that saw 7 ties, Syracuse used a 6-goal run stretching from 3:16 remaining in the third period to 10:51 left in the game.
After 4:30 minutes of each team trading possessions and trying to feel each other out, Kevin Dougherty displayed his shooting ability as he ripped a shot from 14 yards out that Hopkins goalie, Scott Smith, didn’t stand a chance on. Maybe it was the all-orange unis or the new logo, but Syracuse came out firing with six shots in the first six minutes, causing two Hopkins’ turnovers. A Brian Crockett push slowed the Orange down initially giving Hopkins a man-advantage. The Bluejays took advantage as they put their stick skills on display as Kevin Boland banged a pass to Matt Rewkowski who quick-sticked it by Syracuse goalie, Jay Pfeifer.
Hopkins would give Syracuse a gift as Tom Garvey slashed Mike Powell drawing the flag. On the man-up, Syracuse moved into a 2-2-2 with Powell standing behind the goal-line banging it up to Steve Vallone who from fifteen yards out gave the Orange the 2-1 lead. The Orange continued to pour it on after the Vallone goal, but Smith had other ideas as he contributed four huge saves in the opening minutes. As Hopkins finally settled into an offense and ripped three shots wide of the net, it took Jake Byrne with 3:40 remaining in the quarter to even the score at two. Byrne capitalized on an ill-advised over-the-head check by a Syracuse short-stick defender and danced through a nice inside roll underneath the Hopkins defense for the goal.
Again on the man-up, Syracuse grabbed the lead back as Brian Nee picked up the loose ball off an Orange shot, pushed above the goal-line and beat Smith. Just over a minute and a half later, Steve Vallone made his presence known again on a great individual effort that saw him drive through a double-team to slip and as he was falling feed Brian Nee. Nee beat Smith on a bounce shot stretching the Syracuse lead to 2 with 1:31 left in the first quarter. Scott Smith turned away Syracuse’s last minute efforts in the first as Mike Powell fed a Syracuse player towards the restraining line who ripped a shot that Smith turned away with four seconds to play in the quarter. Key for the Orange in the opening quarter was freshman Danny Brennan as he went 5-for-7 on face-offs, which was just one of the reasons Syracuse possessed the ball for nearly the entirety of the the period. Smith was instrumental in keeping the Syracuse lead to only two.
With the start of the second quarter, it looked as if the Johns Hopkins team that most of the fans came expecting to see. They won the face-off and settled into their offense. Hopkins had two great looks at the net, with a cutter being fed, but both passes fell to the ground as the cutters couldn’t hang onto it. Eventually Pfeifer made a relatively save, sending it back down to the Syracuse offense. After working it around once, a Syracuse attacker midfielder ripped a shot that lifted the net up while connecting squarely with the crossbar, leading back to the Hopkins side. Shortly after, Hopkins drew a penalty and on the man-up opportunity, Conor Ford took a Kevin Boland feed and went low looking for a sidearm shot, Pfeifer bit, and Ford ripped it up-top n an absolute blast. As I overheard in the press-box, Conor Ford is the “Chris Carter of the lacrosse world, all he does is score goals.”
With momentum shifting in their favor, Hopkins gathered possession again. After a crease-violation, Syracuse received the ball back. On the cross-field pass after the whistle, the referee made a beautiful screen for Hopkins as he was in the way of the Syracuse defender as the ball sailed out of bounds for the Hokpins possession. Following the turnover and an Kyle Barrie shot that hit the pipe, Kevin Boland’s third assist found Matt Rewkowski with 5:48 left in the half to even the score at 4. Hopkins continued to possesss the ball, but on a loose-ball Hopkins was called for a push giving the Orange yet another man-advantage. On the extra-man, Brian Nee again made them pay as he scored his third goal of the game with 5:12 to go.
Syracuse finally gained possession and after working it around without any opportunities, they forced a pass into the middle of the field that headed towards the side-line. Hopkins came up with the groundball but on the clear Mike Powell was called for a push, as the ball continued towards the attack Peter LeSueur came up with the ball and drove on Scott Ditzell. In an effort to slow the transition, Ditzell shoved LeSueur and was called for the holding, giving Hopkins a two-man advantage. On the two-man-up opportunity, Peter LeSueur found Matt Rewkowski for his third goal of the game as he evened the score at 5 with under two minutes to play in the half. Syracuse would pull ahead as Mike Powell fed Kevin Dougherty who ripped it past Scott Smith’s off-stick hip giving Syracuse the lead once again with :47 remaining before the intermission. With the assist, Mike Powell moved into #1 all-time in the NCAA tournament with 28 assists, passing the previous mark of 27 by Tom Nelson.
On a great individual effort, close defenseman Dan DiPietro beat out the attackers on a wide shot giving Syracuse one last chance. After a wide shot, the Orange called timeout with :05 left on the clock. The in-bounds play fell short and Syracuse had to settle for a one goal halftime advantage, 6-5.
Hopkins wouldn’t take long to even the score to start the 2nd half. Kyle Harrison evened the game at 6 less than :25 into the 3rd quarter as Hopkins had a little trickery (a few Syracuse defenders thought they were playing the man with the ball, but instead the ball was being put in the net by Harrison). While killing a penalty, Syracuse was warned to keep in the box. During the warning, Hopkins forced a loose-ball which was scooped up for the Hopkins fast-break started by Benson Erwin. Erwin fed Conor Ford for his 2nd goal and Hopkins’ first lead of the day and bringing the 46,923 who paid to attend to their feet. Syracuse refused to let Hopkins stay ahead as Greg Rommel pulled back to shoot then stepped around his braced defenseman and beat Smith from 11 yards out for the 6th tie of the game.
On the next Syracuse possession, Scott Smith turned away three Orange shots, the third being sent to the Hopkins’ offensive. Also credit should be given to Tom Garvey who did a nice job of shutting Mike Powell down on a Powell drive (also credit a quick double team). Both teams traded sloppy possessions as Hopkins failed to pick up a ground-ball and fumbled it out-of-bounds. With Syracuse not able to convert the cross-field pass on the ensuing clear attempt, giving Hopkins the ball back. The turnover proved costly as on the possession, Greg Peyser drove hard right and planted to come back hard to his left. The move gave him separation from his defender, which led to a left-handed high-to-high rip that Pfeifer looked confused on for Hopkins 2nd lead of the game at 8-7. Syracuse would waste little time responding as they got the ball back. Smith came up with a big save that rebounded seemingly headed towards the sideline above the restraining line. A great effort kept the ball in for Syracuse, and Greg Rommel came up with the loose ball and drove hard past a Hopkins defender. He looked to pass, but had no choice except to stick it past Smith as he did evening the game once again. Shortly after, a Syracuse shot went wide right into the lens of a camera, Kevin Dougherty gave Syracuse a lead once again at 9-8. To follow that, Mike Powell drove from behind the goal-line, drawing the quick double team. As he fought to get free for a shot, he saw Brett Bucktooth frantically signaling that he was open on the opposite side of the defense. Powell lofted it over, and Bucktooth ripped it in for the two-goal Syracuse lead.
After Smith prolonged the game from going to a three-goal lead with a big save, Sean Lindsay drove hard underneath and pushed above drawing the slash call and then gave the Orange a three-goal lead in a goal that can be described a nothing less than “sick”. Lindsay was pushed/dove and while cross-handed flying through the air put the ball past Smith with only :03 to play in the third period.
With the obvious momentum, a three goal lead, and yet another possible late-season collapse by Hopkins, the final quarter started with Syracuse on a man-advantage and possession of the ball. Things were not looking good for Hopkins. Smith again kept Hopkins close by turning away a Syracuse shot. Hopkins coach Dave Pietremala called a timeout 13:42 to play in the game in an attempt to gather his team. Hopkins settled into a long controlled possession that ended with a poor LeSueur shot and Pfeifer save, which turned into a Syracuse possession. The possession ended with Mike Powell’s first goal of the game as he refuses to be held scoreless for the fourth time against the BlueJays in his career stretching the Orange lead to 4 with just over twelve minutes to go in the game. As very little would have predicted, Syracuse pulled ahead to a five-goal lead with 10:51 to play as Kevin Dougherty notched his 4th goal of the day. With just over 9:30 to play, Smith stopped a behind-the-back shot from Mike Powell that surprised everyone. After the save, Hopkins gained possession and Kyle Harrison isolated his man at the top of the box, drove the wing and ripped it past Pfeifer high.
Syracuse led by 4 with 8:37 to play. After Hopkins possessed the ball for the better part of four minutes unsuccessfully, Kevin Dougherty sent many Hopkins fans to the parking lots early as he added his 5th goal and seemingly put the nail in the coffin with just 4:37 left to play. Adding further salt to the wound, Syracuse ran around the box as the Hopkins’ defenders frantically tried to strip the ball, until Brian Nee added his 4th goal of the game for his career high. Syracuse possessed the ball until the final whistle blew signaling a 15-9 Syracuse upset.
In what was a record-setting crowd of 46,923 beating last year’s record of 37,823, were treated to an upset by the fourth ranked Syracuse Orangemen. The difference in the game proved to be Syracuse’s “other” players stepping up; i.e. what the players other than Mike Powell did. Kevin Dougherty’s five goals, Brian Nee’s four, and Greg Rommel’s two all proved crucial for the Orange victory. Scott Smith stepped up with 14 saves for the BlueJays while Pfeifer added 13 for the Orange. Credit the Orange game-plan as they really slowed the pace of the game down, which helped limit the Hopkins attack. The change of pace also forced the Hopkins attack to play from behind and with a greater sense of urgency (read: often, impatience), forcing them to take bad shots, and not be able to get into a rhythm. Hopkins coach Dave Pietremala added in a post-game conference, “they got the job done today and we didn’t, I don’t think I can say it anymore simply than that.”
|Kevin Boland||(0, 3)|
|Matt Rewkowski||(3, 0)|
|Kyle Harrison||(2, 0)|
|Conor Ford||(2, 0)|
|Benson Erwin||(0, 1)|
|Greg Peyser||(1, 0)|
|Jake Byrne||(1, 0)|
|Peter Lesueur||(0, 1)|
|Scott Smith||14 (0.483)|