SYRACUSE, NY - It took all 60 minutes, but Syracuse got revenge on Army, edging the Black Knights 8-7 in front of 4,656 at the Carrier Dome this afternoon.
It was one year ago Army came into the Salt City and stunned the nation’s second ranked team. The game set in motion what became a 5-8 season for the Orange, culminating in the ‘Cuse missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years.
But getting the win took patience. SU’s effort didn’t get off on the right foot when Army’s Justin Bokmeyer tallied his sixth goal of the season just 2:18 in. The doorstep goal came on the first shot of the game for either team, but didn’t shake SU’s freshmen keeper.
“I didn’t get too rattled today,” John Galloway said. “Our defense played really well and (Army) didn’t have too many shots. I think our defense stayed really calm and seven goals against a team like that’s not too bad.”
Galloway went on to stop six shots, but as good as the freshmen was, Army’s Adam Fullerton was all that and then some. The senior made 12 stops by half-time, several as the Orange continuously aimed for the 5-hole. Fullerton’s play limited Syracuse to just three first half goals (one fewer than he did in last season’s upset).
SU’s offensive game on the whole was also slower to develop than a week ago against Villanova. Last time out Greg Niewieroski led off the game with a goal just 13 seconds in. Today it took the Orange 13:12 to bury a shot when freshmen Stephen Keogh connected on the man-up.
Tied at three, Fullerton’s outstanding half in cage forced SU into one big adjustment at the break – look for more shots at pointblank range.
“The goalie did do a tremendous job, but I thought that we hit him a few of the times,” said coach John Desko. “We threw a couple right in his stick and I think we knew we were going to have to shoot well to get something by him today. I think a change in the offense in the second half and getting some of the shots off the crease area helped a quite a bit.”
SU went to a double crease, intending to get more shots right in front as opposed to in the 13 to 14 yard range where Fullerton could make a read and a stop. The change worked. Desko’s club scored the first four goals of the second half, two each by Niewieroski and senior captain Mike Leveille.
Perhaps Leveille had the most notable score of the night, booking his fourth goal off a pass from Jovan Miller six minutes into the fourth quarter. The goal was the final of the day for the Orange making the score 8-5. In a one-goal game, the shot served as the last buffer between the two teams.
“A lot of freshmen might have gone in and just tried to shoot it at the goal, which he could have, and then he turned around and found Mike Leveille and it was a nice play, especially for a rookie,” said Desko.
Miller started the play when he saw his defender slip off towards face-off specialist Danny Brennan. The move left nothing but real estate in front of the freshmen, but instead of going for the goal, he deferred to his senior teammate.
“We had been talking the goalie up forever,” said Miller, “so I was pretty nervous to take a shot on him. So I was like why not let Mikey Leveille, our All-American, take the shot on him.”
Fullerton’s outstanding first half had turned into a one-save, six goal second, but Army weathered the storm. With 3:36 to play Jason Peyer golfed a loose ball into the cage for the Cadet’s third man-up goal in four opportunities. Galloway stopped the play’s original shot, kicking out the rebound but keeping it within the crease. From his knees, Peyer swept the ball into the cage and brought Army within one, 8-7. Galloway argued for a crease violation, but to no avail.
The Black Knights fought desperately to regain the ball the rest of the game, but the Orange kept a stranglehold on the offensive side. Fullerton began playing out of cage to give Joe Alberici’s team a 7-on-6 man-to-man advantage. The move resulted in the keeper drawing a slashing penalty in the game’s final minute. Tom Palesky subbed in for Fullerton and the Orange ran out the clock.
The win moves SU to 2-0 for the first time since 2004, the last time Desko’s club won a national championship.
“It’s hard when you dig yourself a hole at the beginning of the year because the pressure starts building and you feel like every game you’ve got to go out and you have to win,” said a relieved Leveille.
Standing between the Orange and a 3-0 mark is a UVa team that SU hasn’t beaten in four tries, but also a Wahoo team that has yet to play with senior leader Ben Rubeor.
“I‘m not gonna play into that because I think he’ll be back,” Galloway said. “I think Ben will be on the field next week. I don’t think he’ll sit out to play Syracuse.”
The Orange and Cavaliers meet Saturday in Baltimore for the Face-Off Classic. UVa took the match-up last year11-8. Army plays next against Air Force Saturday.
|Mike Leveille||(4, 2)|
|Greg Niewieroski||(3, 0)|
|Jovan Miller||(0, 1)|
|Dan Hardy||(0, 1)|
|Matt Abbott||(0, 1)|
|Stephen Keogh||(1, 0)|
|John Galloway||6 (0.462)|