Season-ending shocker

Syracuse loses 9-8 to Army in the opening round of the NCAA lacrosse playoffs Sunday in a dramatic double overtime.

They were a team on a mission. After winning back-to-back national titles, the Orange looked forward to their third in as many years. Syracuse lost to Army just once in fifteen games since 1984. As the second ranked team in the country, the Orange (13-1, 5-0) looked to have every advantage over the visiting fourteenth-ranked Black Knights.

Photo: Jamie De Pould
Junior goalie John Galloway walks back to the locker room after the Orange's 8-9 loss to Army on Sunday night. The Black Knights dominated Syracuse on face offs, winning 12 of 19.

And the Central New Yorkers prevailed in the end – but not those dressed in orange and white. Army upset Syracuse 9-8, just five seconds before the second overtime period expired.

Devin Lynch, a sophomore native of Skaneateles, took a pass from Jeremy Boltus, a junior attack from Baldwinsville, and shot over goalie John Galloway, ending the game in the 68th minute.

Lynch and Boltus are just two of five Army players who grew up watching Syracuse lacrosse. Boltus scored the game-tying goal, his second of the game, with under seven minutes remaining, marking the first time all night they didn’t trail the Orange.

“Since I can remember, always going to Syracuse games with my dad and friends, you always dreamed about being on the field,” Lynch said. “To have a game here in the NCAA tournament is just amazing. When you think of lacrosse, you think of Syracuse lacrosse. To be able to do something like this is just amazing and it’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The Black Knights imposed their will on Syracuse in overtime, out shooting the Orange 6-1 in the two four-minute sudden death periods.

The loss was Syracuse's first since the 2008 playoffs; most of the players currently on the roster didn’t play for the Orange yet, so this was the first playoff loss of their careers.

“It’s one of those things where you feel like crying, but you just don’t have it in you,” junior midfielder Jovan Miller said after the game. “I can’t believe it. It hasn’t hit me yet.”

Early in the contest, Syracuse physically dominated Army to build a four-goal lead. Just two and a half minutes into the game, senior attack Cody Jamieson carried the ball across the goal line and put his shoulder into senior Sam Harrison. Jamieson’s 33-pound advantage over the defender proved too much and Harrison dropped to the turf, allowing Jamieson to pump the game’s first goal past junior goalie Tom Palesky.

Twenty five seconds later, Army tried to clear the ball across midfield. Junior attack Stephen Keogh blindsided Army’s six foot, four inch freshman Garret Thul, causing him to drop his stick. Joel White recovered the loose ball and hit Jamieson with a rainbow pass. The speedy Army midfielders, already downfield, couldn’t get back to cover Jamieson, who tallied his second goal of the game. He scored three on the night.

Palesky, who made 21 saves in their last meeting, couldn’t keep the explosive Orange off the scoreboard this time. In the second quarter, Kevin Drew and Jovan Miller scored 31 seconds apart to give Syracuse a 5-1 lead.

In the second and third quarters, Army’s dominance on face offs allowed them to control the ball and regain possession following goals. This enabled them to run a slow, but methodical offense that kept the Orange defense on its heels, and the ball away from the talented Syracuse offense.

Orange face off specialist Gavin Jenkinson, who won nearly 60% of his draws during the season, won just two of his ten draws in the game. Army’s Derek Sipperly claimed 11 of the 17 draws he took on Sunday.

“I thought the faceoff man and the wings were exceptional,” Orange coach John Desko said. “I thought we would come out of the game winning faceoffs. They dominated faceoffs, which gave them all those possessions, especially in the second half.”

In response to Army’s possession-based plays, the Orange offense tried to force passes and shots that weren’t available. This forced Syracuse’s defense to weather a late Army surge heading into half time. The Black Knights scored two goals with under two minutes left in the second quarter, halving the Orange’s lead at 6-4.

“Whenever we got possession of the ball, we were in a hurry all the time,” Miller explained. “I thought we put that pressure on ourselves. We could have just easily pulled it out a few times, calmed it down and passed around a little bit, but I think there was an unneeded sense of urgency every time we got the ball.”

Army faces Cornell in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal Sunday, May 23 in Stony Brook, NY.

Senior attackman Cody Jamieson fights for a ground ball. The Orange dominated the Black Knights on ground ball recoveries in the first half, but couldn't do the same during the second half of the double-overtime loss. Copyright 2010 Jamie De Pould/

Senior attackman Cody Jamieson fights for a ground ball. The Orange dominated the Black Knights on ground ball recoveries in the first half, but couldn't do the same during the second half of the double-overtime loss.   (PHOTO: Jamie De Pould)

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