FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - - The NCAA tournament semifinal between Syracuse and Duke was billed as a meeting between offensive juggernauts. The Orange held up its end of the deal - convincingly.
Seniors Kenny Nims and Pat Perritt each had four goals and one assist to spark No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Syracuse to a 17-7 rout of the No. 3 seed Blue Devils in a NCAA tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
The Orange improved to 15-2 and earned its seventh trip to the championship final since John Desko succeeded Roy Simmons Jr. as coach before the 1999 season.
Overall, Syracuse is 16-10 in the semifinals and will take aim at extending its NCAA record of 10 national titles. (The NCAA vacated the 1990 crown because of eligibility violations.) The Orange also could become the first repeat champion since Princeton won three consecutive titles between 1996 and 1998.
Syracuse had entered the contest ranked second in the country in offense, but even the players expressed mild surprise that they were able to score almost five goals above their season average of 12.9.
"I think we did a good job of capitalizing off the turnovers they had," said Perritt, who was one of nine players to score a goal and one of 11 to record a point. "That was [crucial] to get us the separation we got."
The 10-goal margin was Syracuse's most lopsided victory over a semifinal opponent since walloping North Carolina, 21-10, in 1990. It was also Duke's worst loss in 29 tournament games after having never lost by more than three goals before Saturday.
"They punched us in the mouth early," said junior attackman Max Quinzani, who paced the Blue Devils (15-4) with three goals and one assist. "We just didn't perform when the chips were on the table."
The Orange did not look particularly sharp in the first quarter, but it benefited from a pair of soft goals from Perritt and Joel White in that period. Perritt's tally, a shot from a seemingly impossible angle left of the cage that somehow squeezed between Duke goalie Rob Schroeder and the left post, broke a 2-2 tie with 35.3 seconds left in the quarter, and the Blue Devils never tied the score after that.
After Quinzani scored off a feed from senior midfielder Sam Payton to narrow the gap to 4-3 just 11 seconds into the second quarter, Syracuse scored four of the next five goals for an 8-4 halftime lead.
The Orange needed just seven seconds into the second half to pad its lead, courtesy of a goal off the faceoff from senior Jake Moulton, and the outcome was never in doubt.
Junior attackman Cody Jamieson posted two goals and one assist, and senior defenseman Sid Smith limited Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty, who led the nation in points with 76, to two assists.
The 17 goals were the most surrendered by the Blue Devils since a 17-12 loss to Maryland on March 6, 2004.
Sophomore attackman Zach Howell scored three times for Duke (15-4), which lost in the semifinals for the second straight year.