Maryland ends Syracuse's championship hopes

Maryland's Grant Catalino delivers a dagger in the final minute of sudden-death overtime to end the Orange’s NCAA tournament run.

It was a thrilling playoff finish that Syracuse lacrosse had become accustomed to in recent years. Only this time, the Orange didn't come out on top.

The unseeded Maryland Terrapins came back from an early deficit Sunday to defeat the No. 1-seeded SUY in overtime, 6-5. The quarterfinals loss sends Maryland to contend for the NCAA lacrosse title next weekend in Baltimore while SU will watch the Final Four from home for the second year in a row.

Photo: Ashli Truchon
Josh Amidon receives the ball during the first few minutes of the game after Maryland loses the ball in Sunday's NCAA quarterfinals game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Maryland's Grant Catalino, who played high school lacrosse in the Rochester suburb Webster, scored the winning goal for the Terps with 32 seconds left in sudden-death overtime. For Catalino, the goal meant a lot more than just advancing his team to the Final Four.

"I'm from a few minutes outside of Syracuse and grew up watching the team,” Catalino said after the game. “Those players were my role models and come my senior year in high school, Syracuse didn't recruit me. The coaching staff at Maryland gave me an awesome opportunity and to finish our career with a win over them [Syracuse] is unbelievable."

Although it turned into a nerve-wrecking game at the close, the majority of the first half was relatively calm. Both teams played tight defense but had a noticeable lack of aggression. Syracuse failed to replicate the physicality shown in the opening round win over Siena.

The Terps controlled a large chunk of the opening minutes, but attempted only seven shots in the first quarter, compared to Syracuse's five. With 3:03 left in the first quarter, SU’s senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson broke the stalemate. He ran the ball down the field and buried one behind UM freshman goalie Niko Amato.

Syracuse was the next to strike as senior midfielder Jovan Miller scored with four minutes left in the first half. SU’s lead didn't last long,though, and Maryland responded in a huge way with two goals to end the half, less than two minutes apart.

Maryland's defense was spectacular, holding the Orange, who typically average 37 shots a game, to a mere 22 shots. Although Syracuse scored during a man-advantage, it was the only penalty Maryland had the entire game.

Struggles at the faceoff circle Sunday plagued the Orange - much like during the regular season. Syracuse won only 3 of 14 faceoffs, which SU’s head coach John Desko thought challenged the defense immensely.

"Dominating the faceoffs seriously limited our possession time,” Desko said. “I think defensively you've got to pick your poison; if you go after it too much and you don't have those situations cut off then they're going to get goals in transition off their faceoffs.”

Maryland controlled the tempo for most of the third quarter. Syracuse set itself back with a few costly penalties at the start of the half that led to a pair of goals by UM's Travis Reed. The Terps held a 4-2 lead until SU sophomore JoJo Marasco scored his 24th goal of the season, but, with one second left in the quarter, Scott LaRue scored his second of the game to once again give the Terps a two-goal lead.

Maryland held on to its 5-3 lead until Brett Schmidt was penalized for an illegal body check; Thompson used the extra-man advantage to score his second goal of the game to cut the deficit to one. Miller tied the game at five with 55 seconds left to force overtime. Any momentum gained late by the Orange, though, was lost steam because Maryland controlled the ball for almost the first four minutes of sudden victory overtime. In the final minute, Maryland’s Ryan Young passed the ball to Catalino to end the game and Syracuse's season.

While the Orange were able to produce on offense despite a lack of shots and faceoff wins, its struggles in those areas were too much to overcome in such a highly contested game.

“Sometimes there's a little bit of a concession," Desko said. "But in a low-scoring game like this where one goal could be the difference, you hate to take too many chances and give them goals off the faceoff.”

The Terps advance to the Final Four to face the defending champion Duke Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

After the game, Desko couldn’t help but recognize it was the last time this class of seniors would play for SU. This group won two national championships, 2008 and 2009, respectively, and made the quarterfinals in three of their four seasons together.

"We're grieving together right now as we all talked in the locker room,” Desko said. "We're going to have to deal with it and as time goes on we're going to be able to look back at all the good memories: the one-goal games we did win, the two national championships, and the records that the senior group has set.

"Those are all things they can be really proud of and enjoy for the rest of their lives.”


We appreciate the help in clarifying Grant Catalino's hometown.


Catalino isn't from Central

Catalino isn't from Central NY. He's from Webster, a suburb of Rochester in Western NY. Citrus TV got it wrong as well.

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