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Syracuse 14 - Cornell 9: Game-Ending Staats

Syracuse and Cornell battled in an upstate New York rivalry game Tuesday night. With everything else even, Randy Staats took over the game in the third period with 5 goals and 4 assists, to help push Syracuse over the edge for their third-straight win.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In late February, I remarked that the SU-Maryland game was the hardest lacrosse game I had ever had to sit through. Back in March, I hailed Syracuse's win over Johns Hopkins as their best game of the season, and at that point in the season it was. Well tonight's game just replaced the Hopkins matchup at the top as the now 7-3 Syracuse Orange put on a superb performance.

The Orange have strung together three-straight wins, two coming against top-ten teams. After Cornell lost to Harvard, I thought that the Big Red might be a bit overrated. After their loss to Syracuse, I can say they are a damn good team, a top-ten team, but definitely not worthy of the #2 ranking they had last week. Again, it's not that they are a poor quality team, but I'm not sure they could beat the likes of Duke, Maryland or Loyola.

Back to today's game, Syracuse opened up playing very well. Henry Schoonmaker had the first 2 goals of the game. On his second, he sped towards the net from the top of the box before slamming on the breaks, spinning away from his defender to gain some room and firing with his left hand from 8 yards out. Schoonmaker went 2 for 2 on his first 2 shots of the game. He finished the day with 4 shots and 1 groundball.

Kevin Rice had 2 goals and an assist in the first half. Rice's second goal of the game came when Nicky Galasso drew the slide by rushing the goal from the side of the box. Galasso responded by sending the ball to Randy Staats on the top of the box. Staats drew the second slide, which left Rice open on the far side crease for the easy goal, 4-1 Syracuse.

After a 4-goal Cornell run in the second quarter, Syracuse found their 4-1 lead turn quickly into a 5-4 deficit. Coach Desko spent a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

With a moment of rest to calm themselves down and come up with a play, SU came out of the timeout hot. Just after the whistle blew, Billy Ward was able to put away a bouncer for what might have been the most important goal of the game. Ward's only goal of the night evened the score at 5 and prevented Syracuse from turning an early lead into a possible blowout, something which we've seen happen in several games (versus: Maryland, UVA, Duke). Ward now has scored a point in 6-straight games.

Hakeem Lecky followed up Ward's equalizer with a tally of his own. Dylan Donahue found the Nantucket native on the left wing, wide open, and Lecky just buried a rocket. Lecky has one of the fastest shots on the Syracuse midfield, but tonight he hit cage on just 4 of 7 shots. The Orange took their 6-5 lead into halftime.

Syracuse ended the first half 12-12 on clears and Chris Daddio won 5 of 13 face-offs. Besides the all-important clearing percentage, Syracuse did not have a turnover in the second quarter, and had just 4 all first half. Over and over, Cornell gave up room to the SU offense on the wings. The Orange had been able to take advantage and would continue to do so throughout the game.

With Syracuse up only 6-5 to open the third period, it was truly anyone's game; both teams were playing at a very high level. Per usual, Bobby Wardwell took over for starter Dom Lamolinara who had 6 saves and 5 goals against.

The Syracuse ride looked particularly aggressive in the third period. Randy Staats caused the first turnover of the half, picking up the groundball on a broken-up Cornell clearing attempt. The turnover led to an easy pass to Dylan Donahue, sitting on the crease, who made it 7-5 Syracuse.

Next up, Kevin Rice, picking up his third and final goal of the game. Cornell's Matt Schattner got tagged on a holding penalty, giving SU the man-up situation. Staats found Rice on the wing putting away a bouncer, 8-5 Syracuse. Rice's goal made it 4 in a row for Syracuse.

Just over four minutes later at 7:54, Joe Paoletta racked up his 10th of the year. Wardwell found Paoletta's original shot but on the failed clear, Paoletta hit nylon from the same spot, 8-6 Syracuse.

Cornell had crawled back within two goals; this was absolutely the rivalry game it had been billed as and both teams were looking for someone to step up.

Randy Staats started the game at attack for the first time since he coming back from injury. Through thirty-nine minutes of the game, Staats had put together a pretty nice night with 4 assists. But that would not be all for former two-time NJAC Offensive Player of the Year. Staats, who arrived at Syracuse this year, has had just 13 goals and 11 assists through 7 games. The junior out of Six-Nations, Ontario broke through tonight, giving us a glimpse at the immense offensive talent which we were told he possessed coming into the season.

Goal #1: At 5:18 in the third period, Staats hit his first goal of the game, sneaking it past the far post on a shot from the wing, 9-6 Syracuse. Goal #2: With Kevin Rice behind the net pulling a Sankey, the refs threw the stall warning on. Talk about inconsistent behavior, the refs simply can't figure out how they want to play that rule this year. I'm so sick of it. With the shot clock on, the SU offense continued to make cuts in front of the net. Rice found Staats in front for an easy one, 10-6 Syracuse. Goal #3: 11:13 into the fourth quarter, Staats snagged a groundball (a one handed pickup, because seriously...that's the kind of run he was on) before jumping over a Cornell defender and sending a high, side-arm shot in, 11-6 Syracuse. Goal #4: All 3 of Kevin Rice's goals tonight came on assists from Staats. So for the second time in the game, Rice returned the favor hitting Staats who scored again, 12-6 Syracuse.

Four-striaght goals from Randy Staats; no one else scored for a time span of 10:34. But John Hogan spoiled the party by ending the Staats streak with a desperately needed Cornell goal, 12-7 Syracuse.

Goal #5: Oh you thought that was over? NOPE! In case you forgot his name, that was Randy Staats, spelled with two a's.... Rice to Staats who put it away on the crease, 13-7 Syracuse.

Connor Buczek and Dan Lintner picked up a goal each before Scott Loy ended all hope for Cornell with his 9th of the year. Syracuse finished the game with a 14-9 win.

Randy Staats ended Tuesday with 5 goals and 4 assists. Easily the best Syracuse effort of the year. I though the most impressive statistic coming out of the game was the 0-5 conversion on man-up opportutnities for Cornell. Coming into the game, the Big Red were seventh in the country at .511 percent on the man-up offense. Also of note, Daddio went 14 for 26 on face-offs, simply an incredible improvement from the start of the season.

Really though, we could not ask for a better way to walk into the last ACC regular season game of the year. Saturday Syracuse will take on North Carolina when they will try and keep their ACC Tournament hopes alive.