Syracuse stymied by Bryant, eliminated from NCAA tournament

A furious rally in the closing seconds fell short as the Bulldogs dealt the Orange a 10-9 upset loss in the second round.

After junior Kevin Rice scored a goal to cut the Syracuse deficit to one with only eight seconds remaining, the Orange’s postseason life hinged on a faceoff—something that hindered Syracuse throughout much of the season.

Somehow, though, senior Chris Daddio won it easily and zipped a pass to Dylan Donahue, who was streaking down the right sideline. After a couple of jukes, he was within 10 yards of the cage and took one final shot.


“I knew that I could possibly be taking the last face-off of my career,” Daddio said. “I knew we still had a chance if I got a good jump and got the ball out. Dylan got a good shot off, and I thought I heard it hit the crossbar. And then I just saw them celebrating, and it was tough.”

Daddio and the rest of the Orange could only watch as Bryant (16-4) celebrated a 10-9 victory, one that sent the Bulldogs to the national quarterfinals and ended the championship hopes of second-seeded Syracuse (11-5) at the Carrier Dome on Sunday. Bryant now moves on to face seventh-seeded Maryland Saturday at noon in Hempstead, New York.

The Orange was stymied by a staunch Bryant zone and goalkeeper Gunnar Waldt, who made 13 saves, including a number of stops in the fourth quarter.

The Orange was plagued by early turnovers and Bryant’s slow, methodical offensive style. SU outshot the Bulldogs 38-27, but the frustration of the Orange attack grew more and more evident.

Waldt didn’t help matters. The sophomore ranks among the top net-minders in fewest goals allowed per game and held the Orange offense to its lowest total since a 21-7 loss to Duke on March 23.

“That was the first time we had seen the zone extensively, and it was what we expected because we didn’t think they could handle us one-on-one,” Rice said. “They packed it in on us and their goalie made some saves.”

The faceoff X also proved frustrating once again.

Daddio started off poorly on the draw. After winning 57.9 percent of his face-offs in his previous five games, he went only 9-23 against Kevin Massa, who came in leading the nation in face-off percentage with a 71.4 success rate.

“I can only congratulate Bryant and their effort today,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “Their faceoff guy was good, but I thought we won them when we needed them.”

This wasn’t the first time that Massa dominated the Orange. The junior went 22-23 in face-offs in the teams’ opening-round matchup last season, which SU won, 12-7.

Daddio said his experience with Massa was beneficial, but the junior ultimately proved to be an extremely tough opponent.

Too tough for the Orange to overcome a second time.

"It definitely helped knowing him," Daddio said. "I was able to get a couple at the end, but it was just a little too late."

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