Syracuse wakes up, wins

Georgetown's dream put to rest in 13-9 loss

May 30, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- As the final four opened at Byrd Stadium yesterday, the combatants traded backgrounds. Georgetown came out like the team in its 17th straight NCAA men's lacrosse semifinal, and Syracuse looked the part of the jittery rookie.

The new-found patience of the Orangemen was nowhere to be found. Their defense was having trouble locating the ball, let alone the Hoyas' shooters. Goalie Rob Mulligan had more blown clears than saves, and Syracuse fell into a 4-1 hole.

That's the same deficit the Orangemen faced in their quarterfinal game against top seed Loyola, and yesterday's result was another devastating comeback. With a 6-0 third quarter in the middle of its eight unanswered goals, Syracuse cruised to a 13-9 victory before 25,317 that wasn't that close.

Eighth seed Syracuse (12-4) will meet Virginia in tomorrow's (10: 55 a.m.) championship game. The Orangemen are after their fourth title in the 1990s, and their seventh overall would tie the NCAA record, but first-year coach John Desko has another game to work, in part because he broke with the program's tradition.

When Syracuse suffered a season-ending, 17-13 loss to Georgetown on May 8, the Orangemen were repeatedly beaten in unsettled situations and by the ball movement of the Hoyas' veteran attack. Defensive coordinator Roy Simmons III cooked up an alternative scheme, with a tactic his father, the Syracuse coach the last 28 seasons, rarely espoused.

"We gave them [Georgetown] a different look on defense," said Desko. "We tried a little sagging, match-up zone. We wanted to slow Georgetown down, make them think about their offense, make them use some time. Syracuse isn't noted for playing zone, but we needed to mix it up a little bit."

Scott Urick's goal off a rebound gave fifth-seeded Georgetown that 4-1 lead in the eighth minute, but Syracuse blanked the Hoyas for the next 27 minutes, 17 seconds and reeled off eight unanswered goals to take a commanding, 12-5 lead into the fifth minute of the fourth quarter.

Syracuse defenseman Marshall Abrams kept Greg McCavera, who had eight of his school-record 142 goals in their regular-season meeting, without a point in the first 58 minutes. That third quarter was the first period this season in which the Hoyas didn't score.

"Their zone was a lot more effective than I thought it was going to be," Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. "We didn't have as good execution as I thought we would, or could. They went to it more as the game went on. When we had good looks, their goalie would make the save."

Brian Hole, Mulligan's counterpart, had just one save in the pivotal third quarter, when Syracuse was riled by Dan Kanach's illegal check on Ryan Powell in the third minute.

Matt Cutia's extra-man goal gave Syracuse its first lead at 6-5 and started a deluge that saw the Orangemen score four times on five shots in a little over three minutes, a span Urick said he would break with a timeout if he had it to do over again.

The Syracuse midfielders broke down Georgetown's man defense all day. Chris Cordisco blew by Mike Henehan on a left-handed drive, then used his right to beat Hole high. Matt Caione used a Brian Solliday screen to make it 9-5, and the Hoyas' frustration peaked at 11-5 when attackman Scott Urick's shot at an open goal hit the pipe.

Mike Kanach finally broke the Georgetown drought with 10: 40 left, off a faceoff.

Eight players scored for Syracuse, which has used the tournament to avenge three of its four regular-season losses. When Syracuse fell at Georgetown, oranges were tossed on the field, but Desko's first team has been the one dealing out the abuse in the postseason.

"Syracuse has a tradition in May," said Cordisco, a senior captain out of Glenelg High.

"After our loss to Georgetown, we basically got the seniors together and said to forget about the regular season. A lot of people tried to write us off, but we've pulled together since then."

Syracuse 4 1 6 2 -- 13

Georgetown 2 3 0 4 -- 9

Goals: S--Cutia 3, Lowe 2, Byrnes 2, Cordisco 2, Calone, Powell, Bassett, Alexander; G--Urick 3, Flick 2, Henehan, McCavera, Haubschmann, Kansch. Assists: S--Calone, Banks; G--Gamble 2, Flick, Henehan, McCavera, Baker. Saves: S--Mulligan 16; G--Hole 11.

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