The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team scored first in both halves against the Loyola Greyhounds, and at one point were up 12-8 in the third quarter, and really just needed to play with enough urgency to close out the win.
But then SU was whistled for two penalties, resulting in two Loyola goals. And Syracuse kept losing faceoffs. And then suddenly, the Orange were down 13-12 en route to an excruciating 15-13 defeat that was this entire season in a nutshell.
Pat Spencer completely shredded the Syracuse defense with three goals and six assists for the Greyhounds, and five other Loyola players scored two goals — many of which coming in the late comeback. The Orange were able to find the net frequently, with 12 goals in the first three quarters. But once the faceoffs went Loyola’s way and the momentum swung away from Syracuse, they barely possessed the ball and any shots they were able to get off were defended well and/or saved (other than the late goal when things were basically out of hand already).
For Syracuse, the goals came in spurts. They were up 3-1 to start, then came back from a 5-4 deficit to lead 7-5, and pushed an 8-7 lead to 11-7 early in the third quarter.
Despite a strong season from Nick Mellen, it seemed like Spencer had his number for much of the game, using a physical advantage to repeatedly beat him to a scoring position. Mellen wasn’t the only player to find themselves outmatched by Spencer, of course. After a season full of strong defensive efforts, the team failed to hold off the Greyhounds as a group during the late comeback. Goalkeeper Drake Porter also had just 13 saves versus 15 shots on the game.
Four different Syracuse players scored two goals: Jamie Trimboli, Brendan Curry, Nate Solomon and Stephen Rehfuss. Mellen, Tyson Bomberry and Jared Fernandez led the team in ground balls, with five apiece.
With the defeat, the Orange lose in the first round for the fifth time this decade, and extend their unfortunate streak of seasons without a Final Four bid to six in a row. You can’t put the entire collapse on coach John Desko. But obviously the questions about how well he’s doing his job are only going to increase given this latest early postseason loss.