No. 2 Syracuse tops No. 1 Virginia in OT

Timeout penalty helps lift Orangemen, 13-12

March 05, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Two steps.

That's all the edge No. 2 Syracuse needed in overtime to upset top-ranked Virginia, 13-12, in college men's lacrosse yesterday before 4,643 at Klockner Stadium.

The Cavaliers turned the ball over on their second possession of overtime when coach Dom Starsia called timeout just before defenseman Court Weisleder crossed into the offensive end of the field. Thirty-seven seconds later, Syracuse attackman Ryan Powell barely beat Ryan Curtis on a spin move on the right side of the crease, converting the game-winner with 2: 07 remaining.

The rematch of last year's national championship game, which Virginia won by two goals, turned on a miscommunication over a rule listed as Article 122 under Section 28. It states that a team cannot call timeout in overtime unless it has possession of the ball in its offensive end.

Starsia contends that he knew the rule and only wanted official Tom Brannock to call a timeout when Weisleder crossed midfield. But Brannock, a Virginia native, signaled timeout just before Weisleder broke through a check and stepped across the line.

"I told the official running up beside me that I want a timeout," Starsia said. "I think he thought that Courtland was about to step over the line, so he called the timeout. I was preparing him for wanting a timeout. If Courtland stepped one foot on that line, I wanted a timeout.

"I'm sure it was an honest mistake. We all have to keep our poise in these kind of situations, and that's what I was telling the guys."

Still, the Cavaliers (0-1) almost got away with it. Brannock was about to give the timeout until Syracuse coach John Desko jumped out onto the field to argue.

Would Virginia have retained possession with nearly three minutes left if Desko hadn't informed the officials of the rule?

"I don't know what the eventual call would have been," Desko said. "The one official came over and said he probably shouldn't have called it, but you could hear the [Virginia] coaching staff calling for the timeout. I think all we did was point out the fact that the ball was on the defensive half of the field."

After the turnover, Syracuse (1-0) intended to give the ball to midfielder Josh Coffman, who had scored three times. Virginia, however, moved long-stick midfielder Peter Ragosa on Coffman, causing the Orangemen to improvise.

Powell instead took the ball to the right side of the crease against Curtis, last year's Defenseman of the Year. Driving to his left, Powell faked as if he would go back right, giving him one stride on Curtis before scoring on a wraparound shot.

Powell ran all the way to the other end of the field, where a flood of his trailing teammates mobbed him. Curtis, meanwhile, crouched down to the ground, staring at the goal for two minutes.

"Somebody else was going to step up," said Powell, who finished with four goals and two assists. "That's when I usually come in. That's when I want to be involved in the game. That's when I like to shine."

Syracuse, which has won five of its past six meetings with Virginia, led 9-5 with 5: 27 left in the second quarter, when Powell beat Curtis on the crease. Shaking off the tightness in their first defense of the national title, the Cavaliers closed to within 9-8 late in the third quarter.

That's when the Orangemen lost their cool and almost lost the game.

Syracuse goalkeeper Rob Mulligan was caught out of the goal and thought the Cavaliers were shielding him from getting back into the crease. Voicing his displeasure, he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, a one-minute unreleasable penalty.

Virginia freshman A. J. Shannon scored twice on the extra man against backup goalkeeper Bob Rust, as the Cavaliers grabbed their first lead at 10-9 with 1: 47 left in the third.

"I asked the ref why he wasn't calling anything, interference or something, and he looked at me and threw the flag. I just asked him: `Are you kidding me?' " said Mulligan, who finished with 19 saves and allowed three goals in the nearly final 20 minutes upon returning.

"It was almost a blessing in disguise. We were losing our cool, not following the game plan and running around like chickens without their heads. I think once I cooled off during my personal timeout and I went back in and settled the defense back down."

Coffman ended a Syracuse drought of 22 1/2 minutes with an unassisted goal two minutes into the fourth to tie the game at 10. After trading goals, the Orangemen went back ahead 12-11 with 8: 57 remaining in regulation as Powell set up Liam Banks. Virginia responded two minutes later to pull even at 12 on a David Bruce goal.

In overtime, the Cavaliers feared Powell's passing more than his finishing skills. Starsia emphasized to his defensemen to keep an eye on their assignments rather rather than double Powell.

As a result, the Virginia defense was too slow to help out Curtis and Powell slammed in his narrow opportunity.

"He didn't even give us a chance to slide to him because he came so quick," Starsia said. "In an individual matchup like that, they're looking for one little edge that they can use at a critical time when the game is being decided."

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