Syracuse avenges last year's loss to Albany with overtime win

Henry Schoonmaker scored the winning goal 28 seconds into overtime to keep the Orange undefeated.

Almost a year ago to the day, the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team lost a heartbreaking home opener to the Albany Great Danes in double overtime. But this season, No. 1 Syracuse (2-0) would avenge that loss in about the same way No. 10 Albany (0-1) won last year.

In a game where both teams traded runs throughout the contest, it was the Orange that prevailed when Henry Schoonmaker bounced the game-winner shot 28 seconds into overtime for the 17-16 win.

As the game progressed, head coach John Desko said he and his coaching staff knew the game would come down to which team had the final possession.

“Fortunately,” he said, “we had the ball last and were able to put it away.”

Randy Staats, who scored five of SU’s 17 goals, found a wide-open Schoonmaker after dodging his defender and drawing Schoonmaker’s away. It was a play that Desko said has worked well in the past, where he would sneak a midfielder through in front of the crease area. And when Schoonmaker realized he was wide-open, he said he just let the shot go as fast as it could.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever got an overtime goal,” Schoonmaker said. “That’s usually just my kind of turn around fast shot. A nice little bouncer.”

Schoonmaker also got things started off on offense for Syracuse in the opening minutes of the game. Last year, it took the Orange 10 minutes to score against the Great Danes, during which SU gave up four goals. But on Sunday afternoon, Syracuse scored in a little more than a minute after Schoonmaker found Kevin Rice for the opening goal.

In the first six minutes of the game, Syracuse scored four goals, double its production in the first 15 minutes of last year’s loss to Albany. And when the first quarter ended, Syracuse had scored seven goals to Albany’s three.

But the Great Danes would not go away quietly. Defensively, Albany shut down SU’s offense in the second, forcing six turnovers. Albany also rallied its own offense and went on a scoring run to tie the game at 9-9 going into halftime. The Thompson trio was once again partially responsible for the Great Danes’ comeback, as Ty and Miles Thompson scored once each and Lyle Thompson (brother to Miles and cousin to Ty) notched three of his five assists.

“It was a game much like last year’s,” Desko said. “We knew that were facing a very talented offensive team.”

But Syracuse is also a very talented offensive team, and it provided that in the second half.

After Desko replaced Dominic Lamolinara with Bobby Wardwell at goalkeeper, the Orange looked to repeat what they did in the first quarter. Scott Loy got things started off three minutes into the second half to give the Orange the lead once more. But every time the Orange retook the lead, the Great Danes responded immediately. Ty Thompson knotted things back up at 10-10, and John Maloney tied the game at 11-11.

When Syracuse took a 16-11 lead after Staat scored his fifth goal with 10:40 left in the game, it looked as though the Orange had finally broken open the game. But poor defense and lousy penalties allowed the Great Danes to crawl their way back and tie the game with 2:06 remaining.

Albany won the ensuring face-off, and Lyle Thompson held the ball before being mauled by SU defender Matt Harris, giving Albany yet another man-up possession, this one with less than a minute left in the game.

Bobby Wardwell stood tall in the goal, however, and blocked a shot by Miles Thompson, and the Orange had the final possession of the game. After taking a timeout with 12.9 seconds to go, Desko told Hakeem Lecky to take the ball himself and either find a wide-open shooter or hold onto the ball to keep possession going into overtime. Lecky chose the latter, and Schoonmaker made the game-winner play on that initial overtime possession.

After yet another nerve-wracking Syracuse win, Desko assured fans his team was not trying to impersonate the basketball team, who on Saturday won in the final seconds to N.C. State.

“We’re not trying to mimic them,” Desko said, joking, "although it turned out that way.”

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