Every Syracuse lacrosse fan knows that a game against Hobart is never an automatic win. The Statesmen play the Orange tough every year, and don't be fooled by this year's score, the Orange had a difficult time putting away Hobart. Nevertheless, the Kraus-Simmons Trophy will return to Syracuse, where it has spent all but three years since its creation.
Until today, Jackson Brown had played just 8:41 in his collegiate career. The freshman goalie out of Buffalo, NY, unexpectedly got the start Saturday against the #4 team in the country, after senior Peter Zonino was ruled out due to injury. Zonino has been great all season, and no one really knew what to expect from Brown coming in, but he stood on his head in the first half with 8 saves. Brown had multiple saves from point-blank holding the Orange to just 5 first half goals. In the second half, Syracuse simply produced more of the offensive opportunities that they thrive on. Brown finished the game with 11 saves on 26 shots on goal, as the Syracuse Orange took down the Hobart Statesmen 15-9.
Through the first period of play, Hobart and Syracuse kept it pretty tight, finishing the quarter tied at 2. Taylor Vanderbeek got the first goal of the game, followed up just two minutes later by Kevin Rice, with the assist going to Tom Grimm. Randy Staats picked up his first of the game at 7:33 and Hobart tied it up one a score from Cooper Stefaniak with 3:44 left in the period to finish the first tied at 2.
After a close first period, the Orange allowed Hobart to get out to a 6-2 lead halfway through the second. Five different players scored for the Statesmen on a 5-goal run. The bleeding finally stopped at 3:47 before the half when Randy Staats went stick-side high on Jackson Brown, with the Hobart defense giving him all day to shoot, 6-3 Hobart. The next goal came on a cross-field pass to Staats, giving him the hat trick, 6-4 Hobart. Then, with :33 seconds remaining in the half, it was Staats again, faking high and going low on the crease, 6-5 Hobart.
Throughout the first half, Dominic Lamolinara matched Jackson's play in net. Dom played well and made several nice saves in close quarters, finishing his time in net with 5 saves and 6 goals against. In the second half, Bobby Wardwell looked good. He allowed 2 goals in the third period and 1 in the fourth and picked up all 3 of his saves in the fourth quarter. FOGO Chris Daddio went 7-13 at the face-off X in the first half and finished out the game 15-26 with 12 groundballs. Daddio still does not look very comfortable with the ball, but overall he and the wings had a great day.
Matt Opsahl got the first goal of the second half. After great ball movement by the Statesmen, Stefaniak hit Opsahl on the wing where he went low to high on Wardwell, 7-5 Hobart. Jake McHenry got called for a holding penalty at 10:17, sending him to the box for :30 seconds. On the man-up opportunity Dylan Donahue found Kevin Rice down low who put it away off-side high on Jackson, 7-6 Hobart. Just :40 seconds later, Billy Ward passed it to Rice who buried it from the same spot on the wing to tie it up at 7 apiece. McHenry gave Hobart their last lead of the day at 1:53 in the third quarter, before Rice and Donahue went back to back in a span of :21 seconds to put the Orange up 9-8.
Billy Ward finally emerged in the fourth quarter, netting 2 goals. Ward's first goal came just :14 seconds before Staats put away his final tally of the game. Henry Schoonamaker picked up the loose ball off the face-off, took it into the box and found Staats on the crease, 11-8 Syracuse.
Nicky Galasso got his first of the game and eighth of the season, picking up the groundball just off the crease and putting it past Jackson who was screened by his defense, 12-8 Syracuse. Galasso finished with 1 goal and 1 assist.
Zach Reed scored the final Hobart goal with 5:38 remaining. Reed's goal came from high in the box, sneaking the shot past Wardwell, 12-9 Syracuse. The final 3 goals came from Billy Ward, Hakeem Lecky and Dylan Donahue, the latter 2 being assisted by Staats. Ward picked up 2 goals and 2 assists, while Lecky had just 1 goal on 4 shots, bringing his season total to 9 goals.
It took an entire first half for the Syracuse offense to get going, but once they did, the Orange were able to score 10 of the 13 second half goals. Randy Staats had a superb game Saturday, picking up 5 goals and 3 assists. The OCC transfer now has 23 goals and 19 assists on the year. His best assist coming with just :12 seconds left in the third quarter as he made a 25 yard pass while falling down to Dylan Donahue on the crease. Donahue was able to throw 3 fakes before putting it home. Donahue now has 28 goals on the season and today had 2 goals and 2 assists. Syracuse put 26 of their 37 shots on net, able to get a lot of close opportunities. The Orange probably would have had a few more goals on the crease in the first half if it hadn't been for Jackson Brown's exceptional play.
The Orange defense looked excellent as well, limiting Hobart's leading goal scorer Jake McHenry to just 1 goal on the day. Hobart managed just 16 of their 31 shots on net, as they were hampered by the Syracuse long-poles and defensive midfielders. SU made 9 caused turnovers against the Statesmen, 3 coming from Scott Firman. On the ride, the Orange looked good as well, forcing Hobart to turn it over on 5 of their 14 clears. Most impressive was the man-down unit for SU, which held the Statesmen to 1 of 6 goals on their extra-man opportunities. Both teams finished the game with 14 turnovers.
Syracuse now looks ahead to next weekend, when they face the Duke Blue Devils at 5 pm on Friday in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The matchup will be extremely interesting for the Orange. Against Duke the Orange gave up the most goals in program history since a 24-8 loss to Hobart in 1977. Following the Duke loss this year, Syracuse held an intense team meeting after which they have gone on a 5-0 run which includes wins over Notre Dame, Cornell and UNC. It will be interesting to see whether this team can sustain their turnaround against the #2 team in the country, and how they matchup against Duke after making some changes on offense.
The Duke-Syracuse rematch will take place at PPL Park outside of Philadelphia and can be seen on ESPNU or heard on WTKW 99.5 FM.