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Syracuse men’s lacrosse fumbles chances in overtime, falls to Army 14-13

Syracuse huddles before taking on Army.
Syracuse huddles before taking on Army.

It can be hard not to get the feeling of déjà vu after Syracuse fell in overtime to another top five opponent. It was first Maryland and now Army. Both of these narrow losses to top-tier opponents have left SU with more questions than answers.

No. 7 Syracuse men’s lacrosse (4-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell to No. 5 Army (4-0, 0-0 Patriot League) 14-13 Wednesday night.

“It was a valuable game for us to continue to develop as a young team,” SU head coach Gary Gair said postgame. “We’re close. The good thing is we still have a lot of games against top 10 opponents.”

The Orange held an 8-6 advantage during the halftime break thanks to a first-half hat trick from Sam English. The fifth year midfielder earned himself a season-high in goals with a side-armed shot that zipped past Black Knights goalie Matt Chess.

We would be remiss for not mentioning Christian Mule’s contender for goal of the season just before then. The Lehigh transfer leapt away from the goal and tossed a backhanded shot into the top of the net to give the Orange a 7-6 lead.

Despite the strong first half from SU, it could only extend its largest lead to three. That was before the Black Knights went on a 5-2 run to close out the third frame.

Syracuse went over 10 minutes in the fourth quarter without a goal before Owen Hiltz tied the game at 13 with two and a half minutes to go in regulation.

“It’s about staying positive,” fellow attacker Jackson Birtwistle stated after the game about scoring droughts. “That’s the only thing you can do at times like that. Obviously, at this level, it goes back and forth.”

Owen Hiltz (orange, 77) cradles the ball in his stick during SU’s loss to Army.
Owen Hiltz (orange, 77) cradles the ball in his stick during SU’s loss to Army.

In overtime, the Orange had plenty of chances to put the Black Knights away. Joey Spallina missed a no-look shot with three minutes left in overtime. However, the biggest chance that SU had came off of a turnover forced by Christian Mule on a failed Army clearance. Mule picked the ball at midfield and attempted to skip the ball into an empty net, but the Princeton transfer missed just to the left.

This proved to be SU’s last opportunity of the game. Just a minute later, Army’s Jackson Eicher found the back of the net to seal the game.

A key talking point coming out of this loss for Syracuse is who wasn’t a big part of the game. Joey Spallina went scoreless for just the second time in his Orange career. The first occurred against Virginia last season.

“It was a tough game, I think he would like a do-over on it,” Coach Gait claimed when talking about Spallina. “There’s just so much pressure on him right now, and it makes it so difficult when a young player like that has incredible pressure…”

A big area of focus coming into this game was the faceoff battle between the ‘Cuse’s Mason Kohn and Army’s Will Coletti. Kohn won under 50% of faceoffs last week against Maryland’s Luke Weirmann and that trend continued as Colleti won 17 of 31 faceoffs for Black Knights. Orange freshman John Mullen won 4 of the 8 faceoffs he took.

Syracuse now drops to 4-2 on the season. SU’s next contest is Saturday at home against High Point (4-1, 0-0 Atlantic-10). Faceoff is set for 5 p.m. with WAER’s coverage beginning at 4:30 with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Faceoff.