Down by as many as five, the Syracuse Orange came back to top the Virginia Cavaliers 12-11 in two overtimes. In a game of sharp shooting and clutch goalie play at the end, the Orange survived two tense extra periods to steal the win. Mike Leveille, scoring his fifth goal of the day, ripping a low shot through traffic to beat bud Petit and send the Orange back to the championship game for the first time since 2004.
UVa came out sniping. Shamel Bratton got the Cavaliers on the board, fighting through a stick check by Steven Brooks, Bratton stuck the top corner, flat out beating Syracuse goalie John Galloway high. The freshman Galloway struggled during the first half. It seemed at times he had trouble tracking the ball. Of course, the Cavaliers didn’t help by shooting the lights out.
Syracuse built their first and only lead of the game, rattling off two-straight goals about halfway through the quarter. Leveille tallied his first of five on a textbook inside roll. Then Brendan Loftus carried down from the top of the box, sticking an eight-yard runner from a harsh angle, right over UVa keeper Bud Petit’s shoulder.
Petit looked sharp for much of the game. He tracked balls well, grabbing outside rips and standing up to shots on the doorstep.
Will Barrow tied the game for the Cavaliers, barreling through about six stick checks and nailing a shot on the run. Max Pomper followed that up with another transition score, nailing shot in the corner. High and away seemed to be Galloway’s number all day. When the quarter ended, the Cavaliers were slowly building their lead, 3-2.
Danny Glading put on a show to rival Leveille, racking up for goals on the day, his first a ridiculous chuck to the top corner. As Glading wrapped around the cage he received a push from defender John Carrozza, and while falling to the ground, popped a shot right over Galloway’s shoulder. Glading followed that up with a man-up tally off a Brian Carroll assist. Garrett Billings then added another, wrapping around the cage and sticking the corner.
The Orange snagged one more score before the half ended on a classic attack give-and-go between Leveille and Kenny Nims, catching the defense not sliding and creating a better angle shot. At the end of the half the Cavaliers enjoyed a 6-3 lead.
The Cavaliers picked up right where they left off in the second half, scoring two quick goals from Glading and Rhamel Bratton.
Syracuse got another when Matt Abbott got the ball on the wing, threw a fake to get inside, and buried a skipped a shot low. While Leveille might have been the most noticeable star for Syracuse today, Abbott might have been the Orange’s most valuable. He scored three big goals, each in spots where Syracuse needed to stop the bleeding, played tough defense, was a one-man clearing machine, and scooped up several important faceoffs, gathering precious possessions. The often soft-spoken junior provided emotional fire for his teammates too. After each of his scores he simply pointed to the “Syracuse” on his jersey, reminding his team the success and swagger the program demands in May.
Peter Lamade built UVa’s lead to five, firing off a roll dodge from the wing to bring the score to 9-5. From here Syracuse would have to scrap back. Leveille set himself up on another inside roll, bringing his defender high, then rolling back inside for the shot. Though Leveille tallied five on the day, Cavalier defenseman Ken Clausen played him tough all game, often winning the physical battle between the two. Other than his game winner, most of Leveille’s scores came from catching the defense sliding or unsettled.
Abbott followed up Leveille’s score with an absolutely nasty rip on the run. He created a loose ball on defense, carried down the field, took a step in the box, and just pelted the top corner. At the end of three, the ‘Cuse were down 9-6.
UVa looked like they would pull away in the last stanza when Billing built the lead back to four, beating Evan Brady and tucking a shot right under the crossbar. But Leveille got it right back, catching a pass from Stephen Keough on the man-up, dropping his stick, and nailing the near top corner when no one slid to him. Then Abbott got his hat trick, inverting, rushing around the corner, and tucking a shot between Petit’s legs.
Glading got UVa’s eleventh and final goal. Ben Rubeor, who had a rather quite day, hit Glading from X, who skipped a shot in from the wing. It seemed after this one a switch clicked on for Galloway. He stuffed attempts on the doorstep, while also getting some help from his two best friends, the posts.
Down 11-8, the Orange mounted the comeback. Dan Hardy, who also had a quite day, worked to get his own shot, then pulled out and hit Greg Niewieroski cutting underneath for the catch and shoot goal. Then, on the man-up, Loftus got a pass and when no one challenged him, just ripped a bouncer low. Leveille then scored the game tier, as Loftus ripped a shot on the run that Petit saved but couldn’t control. Leveille grabbed the rebound and rushed in from the wing, stuffing the ball high.
Petit stood tall for his team through the end of regulation and into overtime. In the waning seconds of the game, Hardy ripped a feed from Nims that Petit denied, then Leveille hit Niewieroski on the doorstep, but Petit held his ground and took the shot in the stomach.
UVa had the first good looks of overtime. Lamade set Billings up in front, but Galloway stoned him. Then on the next trip down, Glading got a look, but rattled it off the post. Jovan Miller gave Syracuse the best chance they would get in the overtime, snagging a loose ball at midfield and flying straight at the cage. He sold out as he got to the crease, trying to stuff a ball high that Petit stood tall for. Glading got one more chance with fewer than 30 seconds left, trying to stuff a one-handed shot that Galloway denied.
Though Syracuse won the opening faceoff of the second overtime, they could not settle into a possession. On the ensuing UVa possession, Rubeor got a wide open look from about eight yards on the wing, but his shot was too perfect, hitting square on the corner of the post. After Syracuse got possession back and called a timeout, Leveille got the ball and set himself up for the winning shot.
Taking the ball from the behind, he pushed up field, bodying up with Clausen to feel where his defender was leaning. Finally getting anxious, Clausen tried to back check Leveille, giving him just enough of an edge to get his hands free and rip a low shot that Petit got a piece of, but still snuck in. The senior who had been a leader for Syracuse all year manned-up and got the job done again. If postseason play counts for the Tewaaraton Trophy, Leveille made a strong case for himself today.
Syracuse will now be back in the championship, the first for Leveille and his fellow seniors (except for fifth-year seniors who won a ring in 2004). For a team that many thought was on the slide after a disappointing 5-8 record last year, the Orange answered any questions about where they were going: back to a familiar place, the championship game.
|Danny Glading||(3, 1)|
|Brian Carroll||(1, 1)|
|Garrett Billings||(2, 0)|
|Ben Rubeor||(0, 1)|
|Max Pomper||(1, 0)|
|Peter Lamade||(1, 0)|
|Rhamel Bratton||(1, 0)|
|Shamel Bratton||(1, 0)|
|Will Barrow||(1, 0)|
|Mike Thompson||(0, 1)|
|Bud Petit||16 (0.571)|