For one quarter, Syracuse looked like its old self, notching seven goals in the opening frame against Army on Sunday at the Carrier Dome. It appeared the Orange — resembling the Mike Powell-led offensive powerhouse teams of the early 2000s — would cruise to a 2-0 record ahead of its showdown with No. 1 Virginia (3-0) on Friday at the Dome.
Then reality set in and the defensive-centered Orange outlasted an intense rally to beat the Black Knights 11-9 and exact a bit of revenge for last season’s early postseason dismissal.
No. 2 Syracuse (2-0) jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter and 9-3 at halftime before No. 19 Army (1-2) closed the gap to 10-9 with 2:15 remaining in the game. A goal by senior Jeremy Thompson with 1:06 remaining sealed the win.
Syracuse outshot the Black Knights nine to one in the first quarter and won six of the quarter’s nine faceoffs. Then Army switched to a zone defense, slowing down the Syracuse offense. The Orange only tallied two goals in the second quarter, none in the third and two in the fourth.
“Army kept playing like they always do and their goalie (Tom Palesky) came alive for three quarters,” SU head coach John Desko said to reporters after the game. “He played a superb game. Fortunately, we came alive at the end of the fourth quarter, made some things happen and forced them to come out and play us and we were able to put a couple more goals in to seal the deal.”
Syracuse sophomore JoJo Marasco saw a familiar face on the field on Sunday — his brother Matt, a senior defenseman for Army. JoJo tied his career high with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) and killed critical time on the clock at the end of the game by evading the Army defense — and his brother — for more than a minute.
When JoJo got trapped and knocked to the ground, he rolled the ball to Thompson, who scooped up the ball and scored the final goal the game.
“We worked on (evading) in practice and I tried to stay up top so they couldn’t come up and double me and the goalie couldn’t come out of the net,” JoJo said to reporters after the game. “I was able to move the ball pretty well and protect my stick, but then they came up and doubled me. I tried to stay on my feet as best as I could and Jeremy was there to help me get the ball in the net.”
The two best teams in men’s lacrosse — Syracuse and Virginia — meet on Friday at 6 p.m. inside the Dome.
Syracuse is ranked No. 1 in the latest NIKE/Inside Lacrosse Poll. The Orange earned all 13 first-place votes and 260 points in the rankings released Monday. Virginia ranks No. 2 with 246 points after beating Stony Brook in overtime Saturday.
In the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches Poll, the Orange and Cavaliers are tied for the top spot with 175 points apiece. Virginia garnered five first-place votes to Syracuse’s four.
The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU.
The only time two teams were tied atop the USILA rankings was on May 6, 1985, when Syracuse and Johns Hopkins tied for the top spot in the final regular-season poll.
The Orange held its 13th consecutive opponent to single-digit goals… Syracuse dominated the faceoff X again, winning 14 of 23, including six of eight in the final quarter.