The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team emerged victorious in Sunday’s top-10 matchup with the Army Black Knights, collecting a 9-7 win to stay unbeaten (3-0) on the year. It was truly a tale of two halves.
Army controlled the crowd noise, tempo of the game and the time of possession for the first half. Black Knights Sophomore Brendan Nichtern did not lose a single loose ball, and led Army to a resounding 5-1 lead with one minute to play in the first half. But while the Orange faced their largest deficit of the season, they never flinched and responded with an 8-2 run to close out the game.
The Black Knights outscored the Orange in both the first and 2nd quarters, each of which marked the first time this season that Syracuse had lost a frame. Army, despite winning just one of the first eight faceoffs, deflected many plays and edged the Orange on the ground, again for the first half.
Army capitalized on missed opportunities for the Orange, leading to fast break points and shots on goal. The Orange committed 2 technical fouls off of broken plays, with one resulting in a goal for Army and both leading to a shot on the Orange goal.
The lone bright spot defensively was goalie Drake Porter, who set a career high with 18 saves, including at least one unassisted save in every quarter. With both goalkeepers saving at least 16 shots, Porter had this to say about the matchup with Wyatt Schupler, the Army keeper: “We were going blow for blow the entire game, and I kept faithful with my teammates and wanted to give my team a chance to win.”
SU’s entire defense deserves props for this performance, as they held the explosive Army attack to just eight goals, their fewest since May of last year. Porter displayed professionalism while holding back his excitement throughout the press conference, as he was very proud of himself and the Orange defense. Syracuse extended their win streak to 61 games when holding their opponent to single digits.
While the Orange defense allowed the team to stay within striking distance, a few minor adjustments sparked the offensive eruption in the 2nd half. Jamie Trimboli had the following to note about what changed offensively: “We went back to winning our 1-on-1 battles with the other team... Army came out and played similarly to the film we had watched, and we needed to exploit the mismatches we had created. Cutting and slashing helped us move the defense’s eyes and freed up shooting lanes.”
Trimboli enjoyed a career high 5 goals, including 3 goals in a 5 minute burst to start the 2nd half. He hit the game-tying shot from nearly 20 yards out, making it look easy. The senior then later scored the goal that put Syracuse up for good with 5:46 remaining in the game. An absolute clutch performance by Trimboli, on the same day that goal leader Chase Scanlan and point leader Stephen Rehfuss were held scoreless.
The Orange proved they can score in bursts on Sunday, and that is something to feel confident about moving forward.
With the win, Syracuse should move into the top three in the Media Poll, as Penn State (No. 1) and Virginia (No. 2) suffered their respective first losses of the season. With a 3-0 record, the Orange keep pace with North Carolina as the only undefeated ACC teams as well.
A statement victory and a morale boost should help ‘Cuse, as they face undefeated Hobart this Friday in the Dome.