Syracuse athletics is crashing all the fancy NCAA dinner parties this year. Just a few hours after Gary Gait's women's lacrosse team knocked off Florida 13-9 in the Carrier Dome to advance to their second straight final four, the men's program returns to championship weekend for the first time since their title run in 2009, with a gut-wrenching 7-6 win over Yale.
Down in College Park, the men's game looked like a laugher early on, as SU opened with quick goals from Jojo Marasco, Luke Cometti, and two from Derek Maltz to take a 4-0 lead, which was cut to 4-1 with just four seconds left in the quarter by Yale's Brandon Mangan.
Things did not continue on that pace for Syracuse. The Orange failed to find the back of the net for the next 44(!) minutes against the stingy Bulldog defense, falling behind 6-4 before two quick goals by Kevin Rice and Cometti knotted the game at six with just 2:20 left.
After winning the ensuing faceoff, Yale's Conrad Oberbeck got a great look but Dom Lamolinara came up with the huge save for SU. After a successful clear and a John Desko timeout, Syracuse had about 50 seconds left in the game to try to end things in regulation, and Jojo Marasco found Dylan Donohue with a beautiful feed for the game winner.
Syracuse outshot the Bulldogs 35-32, but were bested in a number of other categories including saves (11-9), ground balls (33-32), and most notably, face-offs (12-5).
The Orange will face North Carolina or Denver in the semi-final next Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Despite being the five seed, many feel that UNC is the best team in the country, and Denver is a very good offensive team, so this should be a serious test for the Orange. Plenty of tickets are still available on Ticketmaster and through NCAA.com, so you should all be rearranging your Memorial Day plans accordingly.
Up in the 'Cuse, the women were paced by freshman Kayla Treanor's three goals, while Alyssa Murray, Devon Collins, Kailah Kempney, and Katie Webster each scored two in Syracuse's 13-9 win over the Gators. The Orange outshot the Gators 29-24, and won the ground ball battle 9-5. The Orange will face top seeded Maryland in the semi-final in Villanova, PA on Friday, May 24. The Terps defeated the Orange 19-11 back on February 17.