It’s the final week of the Syracuse Orange hosting events in the building known as the Carrier Dome. All week long, we’ve been taking some time to look back at some of the top moments in the Dome’s history from across the sports spectrum.
Tuesday: Men’s Basketball
Wednesday: Women’s athletics
Today, we’re looking at the best moments from the most successful sport in SU’s history: men’s lacrosse.
It is the most iconic image in the history of the sport, authored by one of the greatest players to ever play the sport. And it happened right here in the Carrier Dome.
While the “Air Gait” only took a few seconds, it was much more than just one moment. Gait pulled off the move, in which he ran and leapt from behind the goal, slam-dunking the ball into the cage with one hand before his feat landed, twice during the 1988 national semifinal versus Penn. But even that was just the beginning, as the moment he created ended up transcending the sport in multiple ways.
The move changed the way the sport was played. It literally changed the rules as it was, for a time, banned from the sport. It inspired not only young players everywhere, but also the people who had been involved in the game forever. They had always thought a certain way about how to approach the game. Now they had to think differently.
1988 National Championship Game
Just two days after the “Air Gait” rocked the lacrosse world, Gary Gait and Syracuse finished off their undefeated season at home in the Dome with a 13-8 win over Cornell in the National Championship game. The Gait brothers had a pair of goals each to complete the 15-0 campaign in which the Orange largely steamrolled their competition. It kicked off the first of three straight national titles won by the Gait’s and SU, and is the only Syracuse national title ever won inside the Carrier Dome.
Casey Powell’s 13-point game, Syracuse beats Virginia 22-21
It’s honestly pretty tough to stand out in the incredible history of the Syracuse-Virginia lacrosse rivalry, but that’s exactly what the 1997 matchup and Casey Powell accomplished.
In one of the best games in both Carrier Dome and Syracuse lacrosse history, an amazing crowd of 10,328 (including our own Kevin Wall) witnessed the No. 3 Orange and No. 2 Cavs open the 1997 season with a 22-21 result that immediately achieved legendary status.
Casey Powell scored a program-record 13 points on seven goals and six assists. As if that wasn’t enough, his 13th and final point of the game was also SU’s 22nd goal that was the eventual game winner. Finally, Casey’s on-the-run, behind-the-back bouncer goal around two defenders is one of the most iconic goals in program history, and is the cherry on top of one of the best individual performances we’ve ever seen.
Mikey Powell’s Front Flip
You knew that Mikey Powell had to be involved in this list.
During the preseason before his senior season in 2004, Mikey promised Syracuse fans a “first-ever move” of some kind. In the final regular season Carrier Dome game of his career, he delivered that promise.
With a couple minutes remaining in the game and a commanding lead over UMass, Mikey ran forward with the ball, completed a front flip, and then took a few more steps before firing a shot towards the cage. He didn’t score, but it didn’t matter, because Mikey had already delighted the crowd into a frenzy with what he described as “the move”. The flip itself was enough to make the highlight reel, as Mikey made it look like he had taken off from a trampoline.
I wanted to include this play even though it wasn’t even a goal, the reason being that it represents the way Mikey played the game. Ever the acrobat, Mikey’s quick feet, change of direction, and remarkable stick skills made him one of the most marvelous players lacrosse fans have ever had the good fortune to watch. He routinely used his unique athleticism to make spectacular plays inside the Carrier Dome, and therefore needed to be included here.
2004: The Mikey Powell ‘Front-Flip.’— LaxFilmStudy.com (@LaxFilmStudy) April 14, 2020
The Entire Lacrosse Community waited in Anticipation.
Mikey Powell’s Final Crescendo Brings The Dome to it’s Feet. pic.twitter.com/r0CKd6ljBZ
Roy Simmons, Jr. Enters the Ring of Honor
In a seminal moment in program history earlier this season, legendary Syracuse head coach Roy Simmons, Jr. was forever enshrined inside the Carrier Dome as his named joined the SU Ring of Honor.
One of if not the greatest lacrosse coach in history, Simmons, Jr. is the man who turned the Syracuse lacrosse program into a perennial national contender and the most decorated program in college lacrosse history.
Gait’s 9-goal performance: Let’s complete the 1988 NCAA Tournament trifecta. In the Orange’s opening game of that tournament, Gary Gait scored nine goals in a 23-5 win over Navy in what is still tied for the most goals ever scored in an NCAA Tournament game by one player.
Simmons’ 3OT Winner: The 2018 Army game was a thriller that required a furious Orange comeback, and didn’t end until goalie Dom Madonna fired an almost-full-field pass to hit Ryan Simmons perfectly in stride to fire home the 11-10 game winner in triple overtime. It was an incredible moment for the Simmons family as dad Roy III was on the sideline and granddad Roy Jr. was up in his suite to witness Ryan have his signature moment with the program.
Two home wins over No. 1: The 2011 Syracuse Orange were a special unit. In early March, SU was co-ranked No. 1 in the country with Virginia when the Cavs came to town. The Orange beat them, 12-10, and then did the same to No. 1 Notre Dame with an 11-8 win over the Irish in the Dome in late April. Two wins over the No. 1 team in the country in the Dome in the same season is pretty great. Both games had over 14,000 fans in attendance to put the exclamation point on it all.
So, there you have it. Which Carrier Dome lacrosse moment is your favorite? Which ones are we missing? There have been so many great and exciting games over the years, but we had to stop listing them somewhere. Let us know what you think in the comments.