Syracuse rallies to beat Virginia in top-ranked matchup

Syracuse recovered from its first deficit of the season and held Virginia to two second half goals on its way to a 12-10 victory on Friday at the Carrier Dome.

Junior Tim Desko scored a career-high five goals, including three in the second half, to lead the Orange (3-0) to its first regular-season victory over the Cavaliers (4-1) since 2004. But Syracuse can thank senior goalie John Galloway and its defense for shutting down a potent Cavaliers offense that came into the game scoring 16.8 goals per contest.

More than 14,000 people were on hand to witness the clash between the two teams tied atop the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches Poll.

“I like playing in front of big crowds and it was a big game today,” Tim Desko said to reporters after the game. “I take whatever I can get (from the defense) and it worked out well today. We did a great job overall as a team.”

Galloway recorded nine saves in the game and helped the team weather a 15-minute scoring drought from the second quarter to the start of the third.

Syracuse trailed 8-7 at the half, but senior Steven Keogh and Desko scored goals 19 seconds apart early in the third to retake the lead. Virginia’s Shamel Bratton scored with 5:46 remaining in the quarter to tie the game at nine, but Syracuse notched the next three goals and held the Cavaliers scoreless for more than 17 minutes.

Bratton scored again with 2:55 left in the game, but Syracuse salted away the clock from there.

“We didn’t really expect anything else—a run and gun, up and down game against the Cavaliers,” head coach John Desko said after the game. “I thought both groups came out tonight very excited to play in the game and we got off to a very good start like we have been in the last couple of weeks.”

The teams combined for 16 penalties, including 11 on Virginia. Syracuse failed to capitalize on all of the infractions, going 0-for-8 on man-up opportunities. Virginia went 1-for-3 on extra-man opportunities and even scored a man-down goal in the third quarter.

Desko’s emergence

Tim Desko entered the season as the team’s third option on attack behind Keogh and sophomore JoJo Marasco—new wearer of the fabled No. 22 jersey. Desko has eight goals in his last two games and leads the team with 10 overall.

Desko even had a beautiful behind-the-back score on a feed from senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson in the first quarter. Thompson (1 goal, 2 assists) fed Desko again with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter. The goal put the Orange ahead for good at 10-9.

Desko’s emergence will help spread defense’s thin and open up opportunities for the rest of the Syracuse offense.

Hoyas next

Syracuse returns to action on Saturday, March 12 against Georgetown (2-1) in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. It’s the BIG EAST Conference opener for the Orange. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU at 11 a.m. Cornell (2-1) takes on Virginia in the second game; Johns Hopkins (3-1) faces the University of Maryland Baltimore County (1-2) in the nightcap.

Notes

Syracuse last beat Virginia in the national semifinals in 2008, 14-13 in double overtime. … Virginia now holds a 14-13 advantage all time against the Orange. Syracuse has scored 356 goals to the Cavaliers’ 355 in the 27 series meetings. …It was the fourth-largest crowd to see a regular-season game at the Dome.

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Dan Brannigan

About Dan Brannigan

Dan is currently the editor of Common Ground magazine for Community Associations Institute (CAI) where he has won an Association Media & Publishing award for newswriting. Dan has also won a New England Press Association award while working for the The Inquirer and Mirror in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he grew up. Dan is a 2005 Syracuse University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @djbranni.
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