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Syracuse 13 - Johns Hopkins 10: Rankings Don't Matter Here

The #1 Syracuse Orange took down long time rival #16 Johns Hopkins in one of the best games of the season. In the biggest rivalry in college lacrosse rankings never seem to matter, and Hopkins showed why once again as the Jays played the Orange wire-to-wire.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

If Saturday's matchup between Johns Hopkins and Syracuse is the only lacrosse you watch this season, then you sure picked a good one. In another classic battle in the premier rivalry in college lacrosse, the Orange took down the Blue Jays 13-10.

The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays got off to a quick, and disturbing, 5-1 start. The Syracuse Orange defense did not look ready to start this game and left their goalie hanging. Syracuse finally got going with a run of its own, long enough that it would be 16:41 between Hopkins' fifth and sixth goals.

The Orange began its comeback with a Randy Staats goal as he tip toed on the side of the crease going low, near-side corner with 1:27 left in the first quarter (5-2 JHU). Staats picked up four goals on the game in another great performance. Jordan Evans got an opportunity before the end of the first quarter, getting the ball about 10 yards off the crease but the five hole attempt was smothered by Eric Schneider. Evans was more noticeable in the first half of this game but it wasn't all good, at one point in the second he tried to force his way across the middle of the box and was easily stripped of the ball by one of three long-poles sitting within reach. Syracuse has three of the best attackmen in the country, and Evans needs to work for them, not force a solo play.

Nicky Galasso continues to be a force on this squad. Galasso picked up two goals. In the second quarter, sitting with the ball behind the net, Galasso faked left and got midfielder Phil Castronova tripped up on the back of the net and took it right around the crease for the goal (6-5 SU). About a minute and a half later Hopkins got called for an offsides and Syracuse got the ball to Kevin Rice who pulled a question mark dodge down to goal line extended and finishing off on the crease (7-5 SU). Paolo Ciferri notched a goal as he cut down through the box and was hit with a pass from Dylan Donahue (8-5 SU). Donahue had two assists but found the net just once. He did have a great opportunity at one point in the game when he got the ball just off the crease but he missed the cage in a rare moment. The run came to a halt off of the next faceoff, a Blue Jays win. Ben Williams came back to play defense but ran into a pick behind the net. The pick left Wells Stanwick free to take the ball, from behind, straight to the net for his only goal of the game (8-6 SU).

It took nearly seven minutes for either team to score in the second half. Hopkins had two straight tallies, both from Shack Stanwick (8-7 SU, 8-8). Those two were the only points of the quarter for the Jays, but Syracuse was able to manage two of its own. With 2:41 left in the quarter, Staats took a shot that was saved by Eric Schneider but popped out of his stick. Staats grabbed the loose ball and shot it low-to-low with help from the screen (9-8 SU). The final goal of the third, came from Galasso. Playing from behind the net, Rice hit Galasso in front of the crease who caught the ball and quick-sticked it into the goal, all while in the air (10-8 SU).

The only two Hopkins goals of the fourth quarter came early. John Crawley hit a shot from about 15 yards out on the wing, tucking it right under the crossbar (10-9 SU). Off of the ensuing faceoff, Mike Messina put a devastating hit on Jays' faceoff player Drew Kennedy. The knockdown looked like it came too high on Kennedy and Messina received a non-releasable, two-minute penalty for an illegal body check. Just over a minute later, Wardwell got caught out of the net on a quick restart. He made it back into position just in time to watch Patrick Fraser hit him with high heat to tie the game (10-10). With Syracuse still on the man-down due to the non-releasable Messina penalty, it suddenly looked like the Orange were in trouble. Williams came in and won a huge faceoff, however, and the Orange were able to ride out Hopkins' EMO. SU went on to put away three more goals and take a 13-10 win to the bank.

Hopkins falls to 3-4 on the season, but this team played its tail off. It was the best that the Jays have looked all season and it might get the Baltimore squad started on a late season run. There are a lot of must-wins coming down the road for the Blue Jays. Syracuse, on the other hand, continues its domination and now sits at 56-0.

There are a lot of positives coming out of this game for SU. Although Bobby Wardwell had just five saves on the day, he did not give up any easy goals. Wardwell provides about as steady a performance from a goalie as you will see. The Syracuse defense did not have a good start the game, but still only gave up 15 shots on net off of 40 total shots. The defense all but eliminated Wells Stanwick as a dodging threat from down low and held him to just one goal and one shot on goal. Syracuse also held Connor Reed to just one goal and two shots. The Orange dominated the groundball battle 36-20 and had several important scoops towards the end of the game.

At the faceoff X, Ben Williams went 16-29, a .529 faceoff winning percentage, and had 11 groundballs. Williams also took two shots in the game. The first he took straight from the faceoff X into the box and went near-side, low on Schneider who made an easy save. The second was a much better opportunity but this time Schneider made a spectacular split leg save. The pick against Williams that led to the sole Wells Stanwick goal was not a good moment for the sophomore. When playing defense, Williams needs to keep his wits about him and cannot be as that slow to recover.

Kevin Rice may be one of the toughest guys on this Syracuse roster. Rice took hit after hit all day and found himself on the turf on several occasions. In the third period Rice took a massive hit from behind, seconds after releasing the ball. It took a few seconds for the senior to rise to his feet, and apparently the referees did not see it but it should have been a clear penalty. He finished the day with a goal and three assists.

Tim Barber is emerging as a legitimate threat for Syracuse. He had a big groundball to keep possession with under two minutes to go in the game and he tied the game at five in the second quarter.

The Orange will host the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday Sunday at 12:30 pm. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM. Of course you can also follow me @Orangelax for updates throughout the game.