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Orange win ACC tournament debut, 16-15
CHESTER, Pa. – In a rematch of the 2013 NCAA Championship, third-seeded Syracuse scored twice in the final 15 seconds to defeat No. 2-seed Duke, 16-15, in the first semifinal of the 2014 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship on Friday night at PPL Park.
Trailing 14-10 with 13:38 remaining in the game, the Orange scored six of the last seven goals to advance to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship against the winner of top-seeded Maryland and Notre Dame.
Dylan Donahue, who scored the game winner with less than a second left, led the way for Syracuse with four goals on four shots. Kevin Rice tied the tournament single-game record with eight points for the Orange, including setting up Donahue on the final goal.
“It’s a great feeling; they’re a really good team,” said Donahue. “It was a hard-fought effort from both teams and we’re just happy to come away with the win.”
After battling back and forth during the first quarter and into the second, Duke’s defense held Syracuse scoreless for 11:14 as the Blue Devils went on a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 lead early in the second half.
The Orange pulled to within two, 12-10, before Kyle Keenan and Josh Dionne scored 25 seconds apart to start the fourth quarter and push the lead to 14-10.
Rice’s third goal on the night with 9:06 left started the late run for Syracuse, which saw five different players find the back of the net.
With time running out, Syracuse’s Randy Staats went with a behind-the-head pass to set up Billy Ward for the equalizer with 15 seconds remaining. After a faceoff win by Chris Daddio, Donahue scored the winning goal with less than a second on the clock to send the Orange to the title game.
“We were playing pretty good offense all day, so we just talked in the huddle about our offense. Just stay patient – there’s 10 minutes left in the game,” said Rice. “Chris [Daddio] started heating up in the faceoff X again and Bobby [Wardwell] made a few huge saves down the stretch and we were able to capitalize.”
Duke was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra-man opportunities while Syracuse was 0-for-4.
Three Blue Devils – Josh Dionne, Case Matheis, and Deemer Class – notched hat tricks for the Duke. Jordan Wolf’s five points on one goal and four assists moved him into fourth on the all-time ACC scoring list with 273 career points.
Syracuse, which lost to Duke 21-7 on March 23, ended a four-game losing streak to the Blue Devils with the win and is now 11-3 in one-goal games over the last two years, including a 4-0 mark this season.
“They won the individual battles,” said Duke coach John Danowski. “They got inside a lot, and when they got inside, they made plays. We knew as coaches that it wasn’t going to be 21-7 again. Those Syracuse players have so much pride and it was tough to convince our guys because they only know that one game. We’ve been doing this a long time and we’ve seen this before.”
Duke’s Brendan Fowler, who started the game 2-for-8 with three violations on faceoffs in the first quarter, won 19-of-24 the rest of the game.
Syracuse goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell picked up the win with eight saves while allowing five goals in the final 30 minutes of action. Wardwell came in at halftime in relief of starter Dominic Lamolinara.
For more on the 2014 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship, please visit: http://theacc.co/MLAXchamp.
Head Coach John Desko
“We’re very excited about the win today. I thought Duke came out, and they’re a terrific team. They once again took advantage of all our mistakes that we made. We had some opportunities early, we made some mistakes and they took advantage of every single one of them. I thought their goalie played terrific today. Fortunately we got some faceoffs at the end. These guys made a great play to get the winner for us. It’s our first time in the ACC [Championship], so it was an exciting game for us and we’re very happy with the win.”
On junior goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell:
“Bobby’s been playing very strong in the last four or five games now. We’re very confident in him going out there. … He made some big saves out there in the fourth quarter. The game could have gotten out of reach. Even the ones that did get in, we made some defensive errors, left guys open on the crease for their last couple of goals. He took everything and more – he made a couple saves he probably shouldn’t have made today. He played great.”
On the team’s improvement:
“I think we’ve come a long way. If you look at our stats, besides today, the special teams have been doing well, man up and man down, faceoffs have been better. The man up/man down has been better besides today. The bad defense was some of our mental errors, but I think we fought through that. The opportunities were there when we needed them.”
Redshirt Sophomore Attack Dylan Donahue
On the game-winner:
“We’ve been playing together for a while, and when [Chris] Daddio got that faceoff, it was a huge win. He gave it to Randy [Staats] and I was looking to cut, I think Kevin [Rice] was looking to cut too. He passed it to Kevin, which was probably an easier pass and I just backdoored the shot.”
On beating Duke:
“It’s a great feeling. They’re a really good team. It was a hard-fought effort from both teams and we’re just happy to come away with the win.”
Junior Goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell
On coming back to get the win:
“We kind of figured out what they were doing. They were making a lot of goal line picks so we started working through that. The offense started playing awesome in the second half. Daddio was winning faceoffs and the less they have the ball, the less they can score.”
Junior Attack Kevin Rice
On coming back from down four in the fourth quarter:
“We were playing pretty good offense all day, so we just talked in the huddle about our offense. Just stay patient – there’s 10 minutes left in the game. Duke’s not a team to hold the ball, so we knew we could get enough opportunities to work our way back in. Chris [Daddio] started heating up in the faceoff X again and Bobby [Wardwell] made a few huge saves down the stretch and we were able to capitalize.”
On beating Duke:
“We’ve talked a lot as a team since that game against Duke when we lost by 14. We’re a different team, and we talked about it pregame. This was our true first chance to show that we are a different team. We go down 6-2 in the first quarter and we were playing better, we were outshooting them. I think it showed that we weren’t that same team that got beat down earlier this season. We fought back and we’re just really proud of everyone.”
Head Coach John Danowski
“I certainly want to congratulate Syracuse University, Coach Desko, his staff and the players. They were terrific, played for 60 minutes and never gave up. We thought they played with a lot of skill and were very poised in crunch time. We applaud how well they played.”
On the difference between the teams:
“You look statistically, we took more shots, we out-ground balled them by 15. We won 10 more faceoffs, 3-for-3 on extra man, 0-for-4 for them on man down. But I just thought their players, it’s kind of strange, they played better than our players. They won the individual battles. When there were opportunities to make plays around the goal – I don’t think Syracuse scored too many goals outside 5 yards. They got inside a lot, and when they got inside, they made plays. … We knew as coaches that it wasn’t going to be 21-7 again. Those Syracuse players have so much pride and it was tough to convince our guys because they only know that one game. We’ve been doing this a long time and we’ve seen this before.”
On senior midfielder Brendan Fowler:
“You have to win every faceoff – he won 6 out of 9 in the fourth quarter. He won 4 out of 4 in the third, 9 out of 11 in the second. That’s pretty good. Brendan has a way of figuring it out. He won 19 out of 24 for three quarters. If a kid gives you that kind of effort, you can certainly work with it. Credit to Syracuse’s young man for hanging in there and fighting.”
Senior attack Josh Dionne
On scoring to give Duke a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter:
“I was just thinking that was the next one and I was ready to get another one. Each player that scored today doesn’t really think much of when they score; they’re just trying to do the best for their team.”
On Syracuse switching goalies at the half:
“They did it to us in the first game. Coach Danowski and the staff made it well aware to the played every day of the week. We knew it was coming and we thought we knew what to do.”
On what changed for the team in the second half:
“Obviously I was to reiterate what Coach said – congratulations to Syracuse on playing so well. But I think the biggest thing that slowed us down was ourselves. Me myself, I know I didn’t run down a ground ball there in the fourth quarter. That’s a possession that we lost. It was little things – I wasn’t catching the ball the greatest at times. The little things like that, we weren’t putting it on people’s sticks enough.”