Syracuse allows second-most goals in a tournament game in first round loss to Georgetown
Syracuse men’s lacrosse’s season came to an abrupt, nearly historic end on Saturday against Georgetown. The Hoyas scored one less goal than SU’s highest allowed total in an NCAA Tournament game (a 19-8 loss to Johns Hopkins in 2003).
No. 6 Georgetown (11-2, 9-1 Big East) thumped the unseeded Orange (7-6, 2-4, Atlantic Coast) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, scoring five goals in each of the final three quarters. The 18-8 loss brought them to 0-3 when scoring less than three goals.
The Orange have had a rollercoaster season since the start. Coming off a couple of weeks of practice, they hosted then-No. 8 Army at the Carrier Dome, falling 18-11. That stunning loss was followed up by a blowout win against Virginia, and it looked as if the Orange were settling in, taking easy victories from their next three unranked opponents.
They later beat the Cavaliers once again, making UVA their only two ACC victories. However, Syracuse struggled against ranked opponents in conference play, eventually falling out of the top-10 in the standings.
But on Saturday evening, the defensive woes continued that have plagued SU and have led to less than desirable statistics from goalie Drake Porter. Eleven Hoya goals were unassisted, and they outshot head coach John Desko’s team 33-18 with shots on goal.
Porter held his own for the better part of the first half, leading to his highest save percentage (45.5%) since the team’s April 8 win against UAlbany.
Opposing teams averaged 42.5 shots per game this season, and Georgetown’s 43 was right on par. Porter just couldn't prevent a team that was a perfect 19-for-19 on clears and had eight extra man opportunities, capitalizing on three.
At the X, Georgetown’s James Reilly — who ranks 17th in the nation with a 58% faceoff win rate — was 14-for-28 against a combination of Jakob Phaup and Danny Varello. Winning 50% of faceoffs gave the tandem SU’s third-best percentage at the X this season.
But Georgetown entered the game with the nation’s top scoring defense, and Desko knew it. The Hoyas stifled team's scorers all year, allowing 10 or fewer goals in 10 matchups. They began the season by allowing a combined seven goals through their first three games. And while the Hoyas — cheered on by a massive student section at Capital One Field — were busy hushing any goal from the Orange, they kept piling on goals to slowly squeeze any hope of a comeback out of Syracuse’s hands.
Desko paced the sidelines with his facial expressions switching between disbelief, anger, then acceptance at the fact that Syracuse would go an 11th straight season without capturing a national championship. Acceptance at the fact that since bringing home the Wingate Memorial Trophy in 2009, they’ve exited the tournament in the first round six times. Acceptance at the fact that a team that began the season tied for second in the USILA poll finished the regular season with an unseeded spot in the tournament and barely held their own against a rival.
The Orange will lose seven seniors before Desko’s 23rd season, and could be without attack Chase Scanlan, who was suspended from all athletic activities following his arrest for criminal mischief in the fourth degree on May 8.
Desko previously said that he’s excited for the new class of recruits, but analysts have said that the incoming freshmen aren’t the most talented crop SU’s ever brought in — and there’s certainly not another Owen Hiltz.
They’ll lose Jamie Trimboli, who led Syracuse on Saturday with three goals. They’ll be without Stephen Rehfuss, who nabbed two assists in the loss. The help brought his team-leading assist total to 30. And they’ll be without Varello, who picked up a team-leading four ground balls.
When Rehfuss fed a pass to Trimboli with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse was down 15-7. They could come back, but it would take a miracle. Trimboli zipped the ball past an outstretched Owen McElroy and scored his 20th goal of the season. The team cheered, patted each other on the helmet and trudged on. Desko stood stoically on the sidelines, arms in their usual folded position.
He knew the season was done, and a Syracuse team that entered the season with such high expectations — a Final Four run to Memorial Day weekend, a potential 12th championship — ended prematurely.