In a matchup of the two co-No. 1 teams in the USILA poll, Syracuse proved it was the top team in the land. The Orange (3-0) got a career-high five goals from redshirt junior and defeated fellow No. 1 Virginia, 12-10, Friday, March 4 at the Carrier Dome. Desko scored three of Syracuse five second-half goals to propel the Orange to its first regular-season win against the Cavaliers (4-1) since 2004.
A crowd of 14,340 was on hand to witness the triumph, the largest crowd in college lacrosse this season and the fourth-largest gathering to see a regular-season game in the Dome.
â€œI like playing in front of big crowds and it was a big game today,â€ Desko said. â€œI take whatever I can get (from the defense) and it worked out well today. We did a great job overall as a team.â€
While Desko was filling it up on the offensive end, the Orange defense locked down the Cavaliers in the second half. Virginia came into the game averaging more than 16 goals per contest. Syracuse held them to 10 for the game and only two in the final two quarters.
Senior goalie John Galloway was the defensive anchor. He registered nine saves in the contest to pick up his 47th career win, tying Jay Pfeiferâ€™s school record, and matching Pfeifer for the third-most victories by a Division I goaltender in NCAA history.
Despite eventually emerging victorious, Syracuse found itself in an unfamiliar position at the start of the game; trailing for the first time all season as Virginiaâ€™s Shamel Bratton opened the scoring a little more than two minutes into the contest. But Syracuse was not phased. The Orange netted five of the gameâ€™s next six goals to claim a 5-2 advantage. Desko scored twice in the run, including a sensational behind-the-tally off a feed from senior Jeremy Thompson that gave the Orange a 3-2 lead with 8:34 to go in the first period.
The Cavaliers pulled to within 5-4 with 55 seconds to go in the first on goals by Chris Bocklet and Rob Emery. However, JoJo Marasco immediately stole then momentum back for the home team. He hit senior Stephen Keogh for a goal with six seconds to go in the opening period. Then he scored himself at the 11:57 mark of the second quarter to reclaim a four-goal advantage for the hosts, 7-3.
However, Marascoâ€™s goal proved to be the last one of the half for the Orange. Virginia shut out Syracuse for the final 11:57 of the second quarter and scored four straight to take an 8-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. The rally by the visitors included a man-down goal by Steele Stanwick after Rhamel Bratton intercepted an SU pass at the top of the box.
Again Syracuse was in unfamiliar territory. The deficit marked the first time Syracuse trailed at the half this season.
The Orange didnâ€™t stay down for long though. Keogh and Desko scored in the span of 19 seconds early in the third to re-take the lead for Syracuse, 9-8. Shamel Bratton notched his third of the day to tie the score with 5:56 remaining in the period, but Syracuse quieted Virginia after that. The Cavaliers didnâ€™t score for the next 17:51. In the meantime, the Orange tallied three goals, two of them by Desko, to gain a 12-9 advantage. Shamel Bratton struck again with 2:55 left in regulation, but by then it was too late and Syracuse earned its first Dome victory against Virginia since 2001.
â€œWe didnâ€™t really expect anything else; a run and gun, up and down game against the Cavaliers,â€ head coach John Desko said after the game. â€œI thought both groups came out tonight very excited to play in the game and we got off to a very good start like we have been in the last couple of weeks.â€
Keogh finished with a pair of goals for Syracuse and Thompson notched three points, including a career-high tying two assists.
Shamel Bratton paced the Cavaliers with four goals. Virginia also got three points (1g, 2a) from Stanwick. Defensively, Adam Ghitelman made 15 saves, including nine in the second half.
The physical affair featured 16 combined penalties, including 11 by the Cavaliers. Despite the number of infractions, Virginia did not allow an extra-man goal as Syracuse was 0-for-8 on man-up chances in the contest.
The Orange returns to action on Saturday, March 12 when it battles Georgetown in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Itâ€™s the BIG EAST Conference opener for the Orange and the game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU. Faceoff is slated for 11 a.m.
Syracuse vs. Virginia