PHILADELPHIA — A quick take on Syracuse’s thrilling come-from-behind 9-8 win over Denver in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament on a sunny, but blustery and cool May day, in front of lighter-than-hoped-for turnout of 28,444 at Lincoln Financial Field:
WHAT HAPPENED: Junior attack Derek Maltz’s rebound goal of a Luke Cometti shot with 0:19 left gave the Orange (16-3) their first lead of the game, and it was the team’s second-straight, last-second win in as many weeks in the NCAA tournament to survive. Denver (14-5) led 5-2 at halftime before SU began to claw back, something the ‘Cuse did successfully time and again in winning six of nine single-goal games during the regular season and last week against Yale.
WHAT IT MEANS: A date in the school’s 17th national championship game on Monday against seventh-seed Duke, a 16-14 semifinal winner over Cornell in Saturday’s first game. The two teams last met in the NCAA Tournament first-round a year ago in Durham, the Blue Devils ending Syracuse’s season 12-9, but both teams sport different identities this time around in a title game to boot.
STAR GAZING: Seniors took over with the game on the line. Midfielder JoJo Marasco simply finds his open teammates for clutch goals, or scores them himself, finishing with five points. Fellow senior middie Cometti rifled home three goals of his own and was the early offense. Let’s not forget three juniors; attack Maltz with the game winner, goalie Dom Lamolinara, who’s blueprint for success in all the one-goal victories this year has been settling down in each game’s second half, and long-stick middie Matt Harris, a groundball machine.
WHAT’S NEXT: A shot at the school’s 12th national championship against Duke on Monday, and if SU is victorious, John Desko will have matched his mentor Roy Simmons Jr., and the just-vanquished Denver coach Bill Tierney with six titles on his office mantle. Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPNBrad Bierman (Follow on Twitter @BradBierman)