Number One: Syracuse defeats Virginia in battle of top teams

Syracuse and Virginia met Saturday in a battle of co-No. 1 teams. The Orange defeated the Cavaliers 12-10 to remain undefeated and cement themselves atop the standings.

Jovan Miller drove to the cage and drew three unnecessary roughness penalties with 57 seconds remaining in the game. Virginia was never going to give in to Syracuse, despite trailing by two goals.

“What I give our kids credit for is playing hard throughout,” Virginia head coach Dom Starsia said. “I think right until the final whistle, we thought we were going to figure something out. I told (Chris) LaPierre with 35 seconds to go, and we’re down three men, figure something out, son … we almost did.”

Photo: Zach Ornitz
Syracuse's Tim Desko (21) celebrates with Kevin Drew (19) after a score. Desko scored five goals Friday to lead the Orange to a 12-10 victory over Virginia.

Video: Check out highlights and interviews from the SU-UVa game.

It was a typically close and physical game between Syracuse and Virginia. The Orange defeated the Cavaliers in the regular season for the first time since 2004. It was also the first time since the seniors arrived at their respective schools a game between these two teams was decided by more than one goal.

Syracuse pulled out the 12-10 win over Virginia Friday night in front of the fourth largest Carrier Dome lacrosse crowd of 14,340. No. 1 Syracuse improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2004. The game was decided in the X, with faceoffs and possession determining the momentum and outcome of the game.

“I just like playing in front of big crowds, and it was a big game today,” Tim Desko said. “I take whatever I can get, it worked out well today. We just did a great job overall as a team.”

Despite the solid team effort, it was Desko’s five goals that fueled the SU win. The redshirt-junior attack spread out his offense, scoring two in the first quarter, two in the third, and Syracuse’s final goal in the fourth.

For as good as Desko was for Syracuse, Shamel Bratton was equally impressive for Virginia. Sure to be a Tewaaraton candidate later in the season, Bratton gave the Orange defense fits all night, despite solid play from SU Longstick Midfielder Joel White.

“I mean, in the matchup with Shamel, you’ve got a phenomenal athlete,” White said. “It’s back and forth. He’s the fastest kid I’ve ever played against, I think. He can stop on a dime, and go back. As you saw, he beat me a couple times there. I think he won that battle.”

It appeared that Bratton won all his individual battles, regardless of whom Syracuse threw at him. The highlight may have come with 2:55 left in the game when he scored coming out of a timeout and silenced a rowdy Carrier Dome crowd. Clearly playing through some kind of injury, Bratton beat two defenders, and goalie John Galloway to pull the Cavaliers to within two.

Despite Bratton’s four goals on just four shots, Syracuse was able to pull out the win thanks to solid defense and ball control.

“I don’t know what the possession time was, we possessed the ball well in the second half,” White said. “We just tried to limit them, John (Galloway) made some great saves. As a whole defense, we played great. We hustled, got loose balls, I think we held it down on defense, and our offense won some possessions. In the second half, we played well as a team.”

Syracuse looked a lot better in the second half than it did in the first, committing just four turnovers, and outperforming Virginia in the groundball and faceoff department. Most importantly, though, the Orange held the Cavaliers to just one goal in each of the final periods.

“It was a classic Virginia game, it was high scoring and high powered,” White said. “Our defense made some stops when we needed them. They made some awesome plays at the end of the game to get the ball back, and the offense did the rest. As a team, I think its just a great step forward for us.”

Syracuse plays its next game at a neutral site against Georgetown at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. While the Orange may be headed for the first of several professional stadiums on its schedule, nothing truly compares to the home-field advantage of the Dome.

“I think our guys really fed off of (the crowd),” SU head coach John Desko said. “This venue, the Dome, is great for lacrosse. This is better than playing in the Meadowlands. This is better than a regular stadium. It’s just louder. It’s a great experience for the players. There’s no place like the Carrier Dome.”

Video Highlights from the SU-UVa Game

Produced by Charles Gorra.

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