A quick take on No. 1 seed Syracuse’s hard fought 12-7 win against NEC champion Bryant in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday night at the Carrier Dome, where the university’s annual commencement ceremony took place several hours earlier:
WHAT HAPPENED: So much for five-year old Div. 1 program Bryant (8-11) being intimidated coming into the Dome. In front of its enthusiastic crowd behind their bench, the Bulldogs, capitalizing on the nation’s top faceoff specialist Kevin Massa (won 22 of 23 in the game), led 1-0 after 18 seconds, 2-0 after 39 seconds, and 4-0 seven minutes in forcing John Desko to call a timeout to settle his team down and SU responded. Dylan Donahue’s goal with four seconds left in the first half made it 5-5, and the Orange (14-3) went ahead for good in the 3rd quarter behind Donahue, Luke Cometti and Kevin Rice each scoring his second goal of the game in the period.
WHAT IT MEANS:The 63rd NCAA win in school history continues the Orange’s quest for making the Final Four weekend in Philadelphia, as this year’s senior class looks to avoid becoming the first class since 1979, the year of the ‘Cuse’s first NCAA appearance, to miss making the semi-finals in a four-year career.
STAR GAZING: Redshirt freshman attack Donahue, son of SU assistant coach Kevin, muscled his way in for three goals at most opportune times, while sophomore attack Rice had two goals and two assists. On defense, senior Brian Megill hustled all night to symbolically lead a D unit that broke up numerous Bulldog second half scoring opportunities in their set offense, Bryant finished with 20 turnovers. Goalie Dom Lamolinara held the Bulldogs to just two second-half goals.
WHAT’S NEXT: A quarterfinal round matchup against Yale on Sat. May 18 at Maryland’s Bryd Stadium in College Park, Md. Yale came from behind to win its first-round game at Penn State this past Sat. 10-7, the program’s first NCAA win since 1992. The rising Bulldogs, under 10th year head coach Andy Shay, joined Ivy League mate Cornell as the only two teams to win on the road in the tournament’s first round. Game Time: 3:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPN2Brad Bierman