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No. 9 Syracuse men’s lacrosse holds on to beat No. 2 Johns Hopkins in Queen City thriller

The Orange celebrate a goal during the rivalry win against Johns Hopkins.
The Orange celebrate a goal during the rivalry win against Johns Hopkins.

No. 9 Syracuse (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) vanquished No. 2 Johns Hopkins (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten Conference) 14-13 on Saturday. 20 of the game’s 27 goals came in the second half.

This matchup was part of the Crown Lacrosse Classic at the American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The Orange were first to adjust to the foreign territory, scoring three of the opening four goals of the night. But it was the Blue Jays who ended up with control of the first half, securing a 4-3 lead at the break with a shutout second quarter.

The offense came back in the second half for SU, but something that never went away was its dominance at the faceoff X. FOGOs Mason Kohn and John Mullen won seven of nine faceoffs in the first half, and took 22 of 31 over the full game. Syracuse Head Coach Gary Gait was impressed with the unit as a whole, but especially Mason Kohn.

“I thought Mason was particularly focused,” raved Gait. “He didn’t miss any ground balls. He was in a rhythm. I thought that really helped. He made plays when we needed them.”

In the third quarter, the Orange came to life and notched four goals in the first five minutes. Hopkins went on a three-goal run to even the score at eight later in the period, but the ‘Cuse matched that effort to go into the fourth quarter with a healthy advantage. Coach Gait credited Offensive Coordinator Pat March with the turnaround.

“(March) just got the guys together and said that (there were openings),” recalled Gait. “We knew there were openings, we were just not making the plays. The adjustments were relayed, the guys relaxed, they came out, and they made the plays.”

The final period began with a goal from SU midfielder Sam English, but JHU would not go away. The Jays scored five goals to end the game, but English’s fellow Princeton transfer Jake Stevens added two tallies to complete a hat trick and wrap up the win for the Orange.

Owen Hitlz (77, white) initiates offense in Syracuse’s win over Johns Hopkins.
Owen Hitlz (77, white) initiates offense in Syracuse’s win over Johns Hopkins.

Attackmen Joey Spallina and Owen Hiltz both had a pair of goals and three assists to lead the ‘Cuse in points. Spallina had five points combined against Maryland and Army, the only other ranked games for Syracuse this season. SU lost both of those top-five matchups in OT. Number 22 was relieved to grab the biggest win of the Gait era.

“I think the monkey’s off our back a bit,” remarked Spallina. “We’ve come so close in my last two seasons here to beating top teams. To finally beat a top-five team is huge.”

Beating his first top-five team was not the only milestone for Gary Gait: this is his first win over Johns Hopkins as a coach. Gait was previously 0-2 in this legendary rivalry. The all-time series is now 32-29-1 in favor of Hopkins.

The next matchup for the Orange is, once again, at a neutral site. Syracuse takes on Delaware in Chantilly, VA, on Saturday at 2 p.m. WAER’s coverage begins at 1:30 with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Faceoff.