I was getting ready to write an article about why Syracuse folks who aren't lacrosse fans should be rooting for the Orange this May. The crux of my argument was that men's lacrosse is the one sport where Syracuse is "the evil empire." We are the Yankees. We are Manchester United. We've always been good but these days we're downright great.
It never even occurred to me that we'd lose this weekend. Hell, it never even occurred to me that we wouldn't be in the Final Four in two weeks.
The Syracuse lacrosse team's season ended abruptly Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when a couple of Central New York products teamed up for the winning goal with 5.7 seconds left in the second sudden-death overtime period. Army (11-5) won 9-8 before a crowd of 5,479 in the Carrier Dome and will face Cornell on Sunday at Stony Brook.
Truly stunning when you factor in that SU beat Army earlier this season and Sunday's playoff loss was the first first-round loss since 2005 and only the 2nd tournament loss in the Dome ever.
Adding insult to injury, it was two Central New York guys who stunned the Orange.
Two Central New York cadets took from the home team on Sunday night. Jeremy Boltus, the Baldwinsville High School graduate, and Devin Lynch, the graduate of Skaneateles High School, combined to eliminate Syracuse from the NCAA Tournament.
Boltus, the attackmen, fed Lynch, the cutting midfielder, who threw the ball past Orange goalie John Galloway in the second overtime period Sunday. That goal, coming with 5.7 seconds left in the second OT, gave the unseeded Black Knights a 9-8 victory over second-seeded SU in front of 5,479 stunned Carrier Dome fans.
SU played unusually sloppy and seemed to take their foot off the gas in the 2nd half. Army controlled possession during the 2nd half of the game and dominated on face-offs. Raising the question...who were these guys?
After allowing Army to stay in the game through much of regulation, the Black Knights finally pulled even with just less than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Boltus beat SU goalie John Galloway in transition.
The Black Knights held possession for the majority of the overtime sessions but could not beat Galloway. Juniors John Lade and Joel White also kept Army at bay, forcing turnovers and turning away the relentless attack in front of Galloway.
Disappointing on so many levels, Cuse Nation got thrown for a serious loop on this one. There was no doubt this was a Final Four team. Maybe we've gotten too spoiled, especially coming off two-straight national titles, but it just doesn't seem right.
Army moves on to play Cornell, who must be doing back-flips in the streets of Ithaca now. Even more-so than the Big Red, No. 2 Maryland might be the biggest winner of this upset. Their road to the Finals now involves beating Notre Dame and then the winner of Cornell-Army. They have to like those odds.
May 16th. The Syracuse lacrosse season ends two weeks early. On one hand, it's the third time in six years we've missed the Final Four, which is unheard-of. On the other hand, we're coming off two National Championships and I suppose we were due for a stumble. Technically I guess we're not supposed to be bummed because of our recent success but when you root for SU lacrosse and you expect to win the title every year, losing this early does not feel good.