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Hopkins 16 - Syracuse 15: Orange Upset in NCAA Quarterfinals

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The Syracuse Orange fell to the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays 16-15. The Orange stormed back but could not complete the comeback, losing in the NCAAT quarterfinals for just the fourth time in program history.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse struggled to start the game going down 3-1 with just over five minutes to go in the first quarter. All three, first period goals for Hopkins came off the crosse of Wells Stanwick who picked up the first quarter hat trick. Throughout the first half, the Syracuse defense looked shaky. The Orange long poles were slow on the slides and looked to be ball watching a bit.

Coach Desko expressed his frustration with the defense after the game: "We didn't see anything different than what we had been seeing. We just hesitated a few times. I was really disappointed."

Henry Schoonmker put up the first goal for SU in a man-up situation. It was just his third extra man goal of the season and 16th goal of the year. The Orange finished the first quarter tied at three after back-to-back goals from Nicky Galasso and Randy Staats. Galasso finished with three goals and two assists on the day, another great performance in a year where he has really elevated his game. In fact, Galasso was one of four Syracuse players to finish with a hat trick.

There were several story lines coming out of the game, but early on it was clear that both goalies were on point. Embattled goalie Eric Schneider finished his day with 15 saves and 15 goals against while Bobby Wardwell picked up 14 saves and 16 goals against. I thought that Schneider had a more impressive day, just stonewalling the Syracuse attack over and over again. Syracuse put 30 of its 45 shots on cage while Hopkins placed 30 of its 44 on net.

The Orange would not lead until just prior to the end of the first half on a Dylan Donahue goal to make it 7-6. Ryan Simmons picked up his sixth goal of the year in the second period, receiving a pass from Kevin Rice as Simmons cut down the middle of the box (5-5).

Just after the Simmons goal, we got a scary moment when Nicky Galasso released the ball on a pass and got hammered by Hopkins defenseman John Kelly. The hit came high and late, and somehow the referees deemed it unworthy of a flag. I would have loved to hear the explanation they gave Desko after the next whistle because at worst that hit could have been an ejection. It took several moments for Galasso to return to his feet and he would return to the game. I don't want to harp on the issue too much because it unfairly takes away from the game, but this was easily the worst refereed match Syracuse has been a part of this season.

The lead didn't hold for long, however, as Shack Stanwick dodged up the crease and rolled back on his defender for the goal (7-7). The Stanwick brothers, pulled in four goals and two assists each. Less than a minute later, after a Sean Young penalty for delay of game, Patrick Frasier got it from Ryan Brown and had plenty of time and room to set up for a big, man-up goal and to win the lead back for Hopkins (8-7 JHU). That was how the day went for the Syracuse defense. The slides were late, when they came, the movement was slow and the defensive awareness was just not there; it looked like SU was playing with two close defenders instead of three. Defensively, this could not have been more of a disappointing way to end the season.

26 seconds following the Frasier goal, Hopkins was at it again. Holden Cattoni dodged from the top of the box, down the right alley and got a bounce shot past Bobby Wardwell (10-7 JHU).

Dylan Donahue put a stop to the four-goal run from Hopkins and picked up his fiftieth goal of the season. Donahue moved from behind the cage up to the goal line extended and managed to tip toe around his defender before long arming it around Schneider (10-8 JHU). Hopkins would manage one more in the quarter. Wells Stanwick dodged from back right, moved up towards GLE and dove up and around the crease getting his shot to go on Wardwell as time expired in the period (11-8 JHU). From my angle, it looked like Wells left his feet and leaped into the crease prior to the goal crossing the line. Additionally, I did not think that he was pushed in. if you agree with me, then you agree that the goal should not have counted due to a crease violations, but the referees called it a good goal. Remember, this was a one-goal game.

It took just 43 second into the fourth quarter for Kevin Rice to fire a wicked shot from about 12 yards out going high-to-high on Schneider (11-9 JHU). Rice would finish the day with three goals and four assists, and today's tallies give him a 31-game goal scoring streak, the second longest in the nation. Nevertheless, the defense gave up a shot to Holden Cattoni about 10 yards off the crease and gave him time to set up for another huge shot (12-9 JHU). Next up it was Mike Messina getting tripped up by the net behind the cage as he tried to catch up to Cody Radziewicz. Radziewicz would take advantage by coming right up and around the crease and having all day to fire on Bobby (13-9 JHU).

After an answer from Randy Staats, the turnover problems appeared once again. On a groundball in the back right corner of the box, Syracuse recovered the loose ball but couldn't hang on to it. Ryan Brown scooped it up and hit Shack Stanwick sitting on the crease unguarded for the bank in (14-10 JHU). Hopkins and Syracuse traded goals began trading goals, leading to an empty net Ryan Brown score with Wardwell out playing defense (16-12 JHU).

Down by four with a 1:46 to go in the game, it looked like the Syracuse season would be ending shortly. But as frustrating as this team might be, one thing that they do not lack is heart. Off of an SU timeout Galasso found Rice on the crease for an easy, quick goal with :56 seconds to go (16-13 JHU). Then it was Schoonmaker at the 0:34 mark (16-14). Suddenly the Orange were down by two with just over half a minute to play, you can never say never with this program. Hopkins received a faceoff violation with on the ensuing faceoff, its third of the half putting Syracuse on the 30 second man-up. Eleven seconds into the EMO, Kevin Rice found the back of the net on an assist from Derek DeJoe (16-15 JHU).

After looking dead in the water just minutes prior, Syracuse stormed back to be within one goal of the Jays. However, the comeback would fall short as the Orange managed to bungle the ball in its defensive zone, unable to effectively clear the ball. It was an unfortunate ending to a season which had so much promise.

At the faceoff X, Ben Williams took 34 draws, tied for second for most faceoffs attempted in a game. He finished the game with 22 wins, the fourth time this season has 20+ wins in a game. His first season will end with him having 256 faceoff wins, the second most faceoff wins in a single season for a Syracuse player; an unreal first year for a guy that went basically unrecruited coming out of Minnesota.

What is so bothersome about this game is that I believe it is the one area that killed this team. Wardwell played exceptional in net. Williams was his usual self at the X. Staats, Donahue, Galasso, and Rice all had very good games. It simply goes back to the defense. There were too many opportunities on the crease, too many feeds to the inside, too many missed slides or poor slides. The multiple offensive threats from Hopkins just exposed the Syracuse D for what it was, a good, two-man defense, but missing a solid third long-pole.