Goal in last :05 extends Orange streak

Lindsay's late score edges Hoyas, 8-7, puts Syracuse in 22nd straight final four

College Lacrosse

May 24, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

ITHACA, N.Y. - Syracuse barely led throughout the entire contest. Its best player was held in check for three quarters. Its amazing postseason streak seemed to be in serious jeopardy.

But the Orange acted like itself when it counted in yesterday's NCAA tournament quarterfinals at Cornell's Schoellkopf Field.

With five seconds left, Syracuse senior midfielder Sean Lindsay took a perfect feed from senior midfielder Steve Vallone and scored on a point-blank shot to lift the Orange to a come-from-behind, 8-7 victory over Georgetown before 11,480.

The thrilling finish put Syracuse back on extremely familiar ground. The fourth-seeded Orange (13-2) is in its 22nd consecutive final four, in pursuit of its ninth national title. Syracuse will face top-seeded Johns Hopkins in Saturday's national semifinals at M&T Bank Stadium. Hopkins routed the Orange, 17-5, on March 20 at Homewood Field.

Other than having the luxury of playing once again in its back yard in the quarterfinal round, Syracuse had to overcome an obstacle course to continue its season, starting with a blown fuse that knocked out the scoreboard and left both squads without a visible game clock for the whole second half.

The fifth-seeded Hoyas (11-4) got a game-high four goals from sophomore attackman Sean Denihan and played outstanding defense. Junior goalkeeper Rich D'Andrea made 18 saves and frustrated the Orange with numerous exceptional stops. Junior defenseman Brodie Merrill, a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, showed his stuff by hounding Syracuse senior attackman Michael Powell - the odds-on favorite to win the award - and shutting out the school's all-time leading scorer in the first half.

But the Orange, which scored the game's first goal, led for only 2:25 all day and trailed at the half 5-3, found a way to reach the sport's big stage once again. Powell got it rolling by awakening to score three third-quarter goals to tie the game at 6. But, with the game tied at 7 and 40 seconds left, Georgetown was called for an offside infraction on a clearing attempt, opening the door for Syracuse.

"It was kind of difficult [with an inoperative scoreboard]. I heard the ref yell 15 seconds when Steve had the ball. He was dodging real hard, we made eye contact," Lindsay said. "I kept my eye on him, and I made a hard cut to the goal. He put [the pass] in a perfect spot, right on the money."

Lindsay's shot completed a game-ending, 2-0 run that featured numerous momentum swings. After Denihan scored on a running 12-yarder to give the Hoyas a 7-6 lead with 11:09 left, Syracuse midfielder Kevin Dougherty burned D'Andrea by turning and firing a 6-yard shot into the upper right corner to tie the game with 8:19 left.

D'Andrea made several great saves after that. After a Syracuse turnover with a little less than three minutes left, Orange defensemen Scott Ditzell then took the ball from Georgetown midfielder Walid Hajj, who fell down about 25 yards from the Syracuse cage. D'Andrea stuffed a low shot by Syracuse attackman Brian Nee, who took a nasty hit and was helped off the field after play was stopped.

The Hoyas then went offside, although coach Dave Urick questioned the call.

"My assistants swore we weren't offside, and I hope we weren't. Syracuse is a great lacrosse team, and it's a tough mountain to climb [in this setting]," Urick said. "Our guys got as close to the top of the mountain as they could."

Syracuse 2 1 3 2 - 8

Georgetown 4 1 1 1 - 7

Goals: S-Powell 3, Lindsay 2, Crockett, Dougherty, Zink; G-Denihan 4, Hajj, Casey, Merrill. Assists: S-Crockett 2, Dougherty 2, Vallone 2; G-Denihan, Goldman, Young. Saves: S- Pfeifer 19; G- D'Andrea 18.

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