Syracuse (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Attackman Dylan Donahue's potential game-tying shot hit the post as time expired and unseeded Bryant held on to defeat second-seeded Syracuse in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship, 10-9, on Sunday, May 11 at the Carrier Dome.
The loss was just the Orange's third NCAA playoff defeat in the Dome. Syracuse finishes the season 11-5, while Bryant improves to 16-4.
Down 10-8 with less than 30 seconds to play, the Orange nearly pulled off another improbable comeback. Senior Matt Harris forced a Bryant turnover and Kevin Rice capitalized, scoring with 7.9 seconds left to trim the deficit to one. Chris Daddio won the ensuing faceoff and sprinted for the Bryant goal. He passed off to Donahue who turned and fired, but hit the right post and the ball bounced away as the horn sounded.
"I can only congratulate Bryant with how they played in their game plan," Orange head coach John Desko said. "Their zone defense was terrific. They really packed it in and their goalie (Gunnar Waldt) played great – eight saves in the fourth quarter when we were trying to make a run to come back and win the game."
Rice led the Orange with four points, including three goals. Nicky Galasso added two goals. Donahue and Randy Staats finished with one goal and one assist each.
Tucker James paced the Bulldogs with four goals and two assists. Bryant also received two goals apiece from Colin Dunster and Alex Zomerfeld.
Syracuse trailed for most of the game. Bryant forced the Orange to probe its zone and the result was deeper possessions and fewer shots early on. The Bulldogs outshot SU in the first quarter, 10-5, and led 3-1 heading into the second period on goals by James and JK Poirier in the last 22 seconds of the opening frame.
The two sides traded tallies in the second quarter with the Orange outscoring the Bulldogs in the stanza, 3-2. Donahue notched the last goal of the half for Syracuse, scoring unassisted at the 4:49 mark to trim the Bryant lead to 5-4 at the break.
In the third quarter, Zomerfeld fired a shot past SU goalie Bobby Wardwell at the end of a 30-second clock warning to push the lead back to two with 10:29 left. Rice answered for the Orange less than three minutes later to close the gap to one again, 6-5, but Dunster notched his second goal of the night at the 5:06 mark of the third to extend the Bryant lead to two again, 7-5.
The Orange surged to tie the game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Galasso one-timed a rebound over the goal line with 11:27 to go, and Staats slipped a shot by Waldt less than a minute later.
Once again the Bulldogs responded. James scored consecutive goals to put the visitors up 9-7 with 4:52 remaining. Rice and Shane Morrell traded goals over the next two minutes to set up the game's dramatic conclusion.
Waldt finished with 13 saves for the Bulldogs, including 10 in the second half. Goalie Dominic Lamolinara made five saves in the opening half for the Orange. Wardwell stopped four shots in the second half.
Bryant's Kevin Massa won 14 of the game's 23 faceoffs. Daddio was 9-of-23 (.391) at the X for SU and won six of the eight fourth-quarter draws to help give the Orange a chance down the stretch.
After registering 14 shots in the first half, Syracuse attempted 24 in the second and outshot the Bulldogs for the game, 38-27. The Orange also held a 30-26 advantage in ground balls.
For the Bulldogs, it was their first NCAA Tournament win. Bryant will face No. 7 seed Maryland in the quarterfinals Saturday, May 17 at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
Game Notes: Syracuse is 24-3 all-time in NCAA playoff games at the Carrier Dome. Prior to Sunday, the team's only previous NCAA Dome losses were to North Carolina (1991) and Army (2010) … Rice finished the season with 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists), the highest total an Orange player since Mike Leveille had 83 in 2008 … Defenseman Brandon Mullins held Morrell, Bryant's leader in points, to one goal on four shots. Mullins collected five ground balls and caused three turnovers … Harris also forced three turnovers against the Bulldogs and finished his career second all-time at SU with 68 caused turnovers … Daddio picked up five ground balls to raise his 2014 total to 93, fourth on the SU single-season record list.
(Courtesy: Syracuse University)