Orange Men Down Yale by What Else? One.
Published on May 14, 2017
Photos by Dontae Harris
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Bulldogs came out barking Sunday night at the Carrier Dome and almost managed to take a big bite out of the No.2 Syracuse Orange men. But with a strong second half and a stalwart stint by Evan Molloy in the goal, Syracuse came back to hold off Yale 11-10 and advance in the NCAA men’s Lacrosse Tournament.
Syracuse won its ninth one-goal game of the year and will face Towson in Newark, Del. in the quarter finals next weekend.
“I guess it’s practice,” SU head coach John Desko said when asked how his team wins so many tight games.” Practice makes perfect, right?”
Showing they were not about to be intimidated, the unranked Ivy League champions, also known as the Eli, bounded onto the field with a brashness that irked some of the Orange players and led to some up close and personal conversations, although nothing physical. That would wait for the game.
The Orange scored first on a Brendan Bomberry shot just 1:17 in. The Eli tied it on a Matt Gaudet goal with 9:36 left in the quarter and then went up 2-1 on Joseph Sessa’s score.
Freshman Jamie Trimboli answered for the Orange but Lucas Cotler got Yale the lead back and it looked as if it would hold it to the end of the quarter. But Sergio Salcido fired in a buzzer beater from distance to tie it at 3.
What was remarkable about the tie was that Yale outshot Syracuse 20-5 in the quarter and took all but one faceoff. The Eli wound up taking 42 shots in the game to the Orange’s 29.
Syracuse took its first lead on a Nick Mariano shot that left him sprawling from a defensive hit. Mariano got in the defender’s face and instead of grabbing momentum, the Orange found itself a man down with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“I let my emotions get out of hand a little bit and Coach Desko let me hear about it,” Mariano said. “I learned my lesson and that’s it.”
Yale’s Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Ben Reeves then asserted himself as the Eli went on a 3-0 run. Reeves sandwiched two goals around Cotler’s second, including a point-blanker with eight seconds left in the half. Reeves had two goals and two assists in the half.
“He’s their motor and he’s a great one,” Desko said.
Molloy was stellar in goal with nine saves for the Orange but couldn’t completely stop the Yale barrage and Yale had a 6-4 lead at the half.
Syracuse struggled for possessions as faceoff man Ben Williams managed just one out of 11 in the half against Yale’s Conor Mackie.
Orange comes alive
Yale extended the lead to 7-4 barely a minute into the third quarter with a Jackson Morrill goal, but the Orange then came to life, going on a 5-1 run for the rest of the quarter to take a 9-8 lead with 15 minutes left.
First Nate Solomon closed the lead to two and then Brad Voigt put one in with the Orange a man up. Gaudet got his second for Yale, but Mariano, Jordan Evans and Trimboli scores gave the Orange the lead.
Desko substituted Dan Varello for Williams at the X but without a lot more success, as he took 3 of 10 faceoffs. Mackie wound up with 18 of 22.
Molloy is the man
After Molloy stopped Morrill’s would-be tying shot with his 13th save, Ryan Simmons gave SU a two-goal lead at 10-8 and the Orange seemed to have momentum with under ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Yale came up with the ball after a lengthy scrum off the faceoff and the 6’ 3” Reeves took over with a snipe from up top, over the head of Scott Firman and past Molloy, cutting the Syracuse lead back to one at 7:12.
Barely a minute later, Reeves did it again with his 42nd goal of the season, bulling past Firman and blasting it home for the tie. There was 6:01 left in regulation.
His fourth goal of the night made it 10-10.
“Scotty played great on Ben Reeves and he’s just a great shooter,” Molloy said. “Honestly, I’ll take the blame for probably all those.”
And again Yale controlled the faceoff.
But a Molloy save on a shot by Mackie gave Syracuse the ball back.
After a timeout by Syracuse at 3:12, Yale’s Phil Huffard saved a Trimboli shot to maintain the tie. But the Orange got it back and Stephen Rephus scored on a perfect feed from Evans behind the cage with 2:09 and the Orange led 11-10.
“I think there was a miscommunication on defense and they kind of both went to him just one step, and then Jordan found me,” Rephus said.
Mackie took the draw for Yale. Again.
The Bulldogs attacked but Firman at last got the best of Reeves, knocking the ball out of his stick. As Yale tried to shovel it home, the ball came loose in a pileup in front of the cage and Molloy dug it out.
Desko took a timeout with :25.5 to go.
The Orange moved it around, running out the clock and with three seconds left, Mariano fired it up in the air. It came down in Yale goalie Huffard’s stick in time for him to heave it the length of the field.
Molloy stopped it again.
OK, it was off-target to the left of the goal, but Molloy made sure there’d be no crazy bounce to keep the Eli alive.
“Defensively, we were giving up shots I could see,” Molloy said. “I think the difference was I was seeing the ball well inside. Really it was just a great team defensive effort.”
The redshirt senior from Long Island made 15 saves on the night.
“He played great,” Desko understated in a postgame interview with ESPN. “Evan came up big for us.”