Youth fuel Syracuse's comeback

Men's Notebook

April 26, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Four weeks ago, Syracuse was an injury-beset lacrosse team without a rudder, a squad that looked too young and unsettled and too porous on defense.

The Orange had just committed the unfathomable sin of losing at home to upstate neighbor Hobart. That 9-8 defeat on March 28 marked the first time Syracuse had ever lost to the Statesmen at home and the first time in 20 years Hobart had beaten the Orange. It also marked the first, four-game losing streak at Syracuse in 25 years, and it dropped the Orange to 1-4 for the first time since 1975.

Suddenly, the team that last year missed its first NCAA tournament final four after 22 consecutive trips looked like it would miss its first tournament period since 1982.

FOR THE RECORD - A men's college lacrosse article yesterday indicated that Syracuse's loss to Hobart last month was the Orange's first home loss ever to the Statesmen. It actually was Syracuse's first loss to Hobart at the Carrier Dome.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Looking back, the loss to Hobart might have been a watershed moment.

Syracuse (6-4) has not lost since. It has beaten top 10 opponents Cornell and Princeton during a current five-game winning streak, the last three of which have been by a single goal, including Friday's 14-13 overtime scare against unranked Albany. The proven offensive stars, such as senior attackmen Brett Bucktooth and Joe Yevoli and senior midfielder Brian Crockett, are playing key roles.

And so are the youngsters, such as sophomore attackman Mike Leveille, freshman midfielder Patrick Perritt and second-year freshman goalie Peter Coluccini.

Coluccini made 19 saves to lift the Orange to a 7-5 upset win against visiting Princeton on April 8. Three nights later at Cornell, he made nine more while Perritt scored three fourth-quarter goals to spark a come-from-behind 12-11 stunner over the Big Red.

Leveille has followed up last year's 41-point season with 20 goals and a team-high 35 points. Freshman attackman Dan Hardy and Kenny Nims have combined to score 20 points in backup roles.

"The one-goal games do a number on your heart, but [the winning streak] has kind of given us that swagger back," Coluccini said. "I think we realized after the Hobart game that we've got to play desperate."

"We've had to change and be more patient [with the ball]. We've had to work a little harder for better shots," Syracuse coach John Desko added. "We've shored things up defensively a little bit, and we're bringing our freshman along. They've gotten a little older and a little wiser."

Once again, Syracuse is building momentum as May approaches.

Mids aim to improve

After watching the Midshipmen stage a terrible shooting display against Johns Hopkins in a 9-8 loss on Saturday, Navy coach Richie Meade braced for this weekend's Patriot League tournament.

Assuming the Mids beat Lehigh in Friday's semifinals, second-seeded Navy could see host and top seed Colgate in the title game on Sunday.

Colgate has risen to No. 17 with an 11-2 record and a weak schedule. Its biggest win by far came against Navy on March 18 - a 6-3 conquest in Hamilton, N.Y., where the Mids shot 3-for-33. Against Hopkins, Navy went 8-for-49. That included a combined 1-for-30 from junior attackman Ian Dingman and senior midfielder Billy Looney.

"Let's face it. We don't shoot great," Meade said.

Hoyas' decision

No. 4 Georgetown might have the most physical defense in Division I. The Hoyas are extremely balanced on offense. They also have an ace in the hole in fifth-year senior Rich D'Andrea, who started for three years at goalie, switched to defensive midfield, then came to the rescue after sophomore goalie Miles Kaas went down with a knee injury last month.

D'Andrea is 3-0 in three starts, including Saturday's 8-6 win over Massachusetts. All of which makes coach Dave Urick wonder if the Hoyas could be better served leaving D'Andrea in the net, once Kaas is healthy.

"It's an interesting dilemma," Urick said.

UMBC to NCAAs?

UMBC is inching toward its first NCAA tournament berth since 1999.

The Retrievers have won three straight for the first time since 2001, are on a 5-1 roll for the first time since 1999, and have held seven consecutive opponents under 10 goals for the first time in their 26-year Division I history. They are guaranteed a winning season for the first time since 2003. gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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