It was always going to be difficult to live up to the standard set by Legends Day in the Carrier Dome, as Gary Gait and Roy Simmons, Jr. were honored for their remarkable careers with a jersey honoring and a Ring of Honor induction.
But on Sunday afternoon, the current Syracuse Orange gave it their all as they went head-to-head with the No. 1 team in the country, falling short in their efforts against the Maryland Terrapins, 14-10.
Fought hard. Came up a few goals short today to #1.— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 20, 2022
Back to work. pic.twitter.com/P5fjyaaqaF
The Orange fought hard and kept the game competitive with one of the best teams in the country after a bad first quarter that saw them get down by five goals. The defense played surprisingly well given the opponent, although they did get bailed out multiple times on a strong performance from Bobby Gavin and his 11 saves. Regardless, holding a Maryland team that scored 20 in their first two games to 14 goals is a solid result for Dave Pietramala and SU’s defense.
Offensively, the Orange struggled through large portions of the game to break down and find space versus an always-strong Maryland defense. Outside of Tucker Dordevic and Lucas Quinn (in the first half), SU struggled to win their individual matchups, leading to a lot of forced and poorly-placed shots that helped pad the stats of Maryland goalie Logan McNaney.
Dordevic led the offense with a six point day (5G, 1A). Quinn had a first half hat trick in his first game of the season, and Mikey Berkman had a two-point day (1G, 1A). Brendan Curry never got into the flow of the game, mustering only one assist for the day.
Maryland controlled the time of possession early, scoring the first five goals of the game as the Orange offense sputtered. Former Orange Logan Wisnauskas scored two to help the Terps finish off a 4-0 first quarter. Anthony DeMaio scored his second of the game to put UM up 5-0 just over a minute into the second quarter, but that’s when the fortunes started to change in favor of SU.
Lucas Quinn opened ‘Cuse’s scoring when he sent home a worm burner past Logan McNaney. While the first goal took almost 17 minutes to get, the second came less than a minute later on the next possession, as Tucker Dordevic also went low to beat McNaney and make it 5-2.
A second EMO goal put the Terps back up 6-2, but as the pace of the game picked up with a lot of back-and-forth action, the Orange offense started to find some space and the Orange shooters started to find their touch and their placement. Dordevic scored his second of the game with a beautiful crossover move before bouncing one in on the run down the right alley.
After Maryland scored again to make it 7-3, SU closed strong with three goals at the end of the half. Dordevic curled up top and scored on another bouncer, followed by a final minute flurry from from Lucas Quinn, who scored two in the final 34 seconds to bring SU within one at the half.
The third quarter saw a return to defensive form for Maryland, as they suffocated and stifled the Orange offense, forcing weak shots as SU reached to find scoring chances. The Terps scored the first two goals of the third to make it 9-6, and it looked like the Orange were headed for a repeat of the scoreless first quarter when they instead repeated the final minute of the second quarter, scoring twice to once again bring ‘Cuse within one heading into the fourth. Redshirt freshman Jackson Birtwistle scored the first goal of his career on the doorstep before Mikey Berkman just threw one in with two second left to make it 9-8.
Unfortunately, the Terps squashed any hopes of an upset early in the fourth, scoring three times in the first four minutes to go back up by four, 12-8. The Orange would bring it to within three on two more goals by Dordevic, but that would be as close as they got. Maryland scored the final goal of the game to close out the win, 14-10.
All in all, I actually feel pretty good about the effort from ‘Cuse in this one. I mean, part of me was expecting the team to get blown out as they took a gigantic step up in competition to the No. 1 team in the country. After a slow first quarter, the boys fought back to make it a relatively close game the rest of the way.
In the end, Maryland had just a little too much quality for the SU comeback to be complete. But when you consider the challenge of facing one of the country’s best in your second game after a walk in the park last week, I think they handled it well and I emerge from this game a lot more optimistic than I thought I would.
That being said, the challenge remains top quality next week when the boys hit the road for the first time this season, traveling down to Charlottesville to open ACC play on Saturday, February 26 against No. 2 Virginia at 12 PM on ACC Network.
The gauntlet of SU’s schedule is only just getting going, but I am definitely excited to see how they respond after the effort they put forth today.
No place like the Dome.— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 20, 2022
Thanks to everyone who came out today. We’ll keep working and see you back here March 2. pic.twitter.com/UlayDcyHID