Nothing like waiting for the last minute, someone once said.
After trailing by as many as five goals in the second half, Syracuse stormed back to surprise Virginia, 14-13, when Sergio Salcido netted the game-winner with 15 ticks left in regulation.
It was the Orange’s only lead of the contest under the Dome but it gave John Desko’s squad a leg up in the ultra-competitive ACC.
“This is certainly a very big win for us,” Desko said afterwards. “I’m proud of our guys.”
SU, at 3-1 (1-0 ACC), now hits the road for two games starting with a game Saturday at St. John’s. The Orange, wearing throw-back uniforms from the Powell era, moved up to no. 6 in the latest Inside Lacrosse poll.
It didn’t look good for the Orange after a sloppy second quarter allowed the Cavaliers to create a four-goal cushion with a quick attack directed by first-year coach Lars Tiffany, who played scholastically at Lafayette High School. Tiffany, who most recently coached at Brown, took over the storied Virginia program when Hall of Famer Dom Starsia was relieved of his duties at the end of last year.
After the disappointing one-goal loss to Army last week, it looked like the Orange would come up short again until the flurry of second half goals stunned the Cavaliers.
Virginia had a 10-5 advantage just two minutes into the second half before the Orange scored the game’s next four goals. Salcido eventually tied the game at 11-11 with an unassisted tally at the 11:56 mark of the fourth quarter.
Nate Solomon, Ryan Simmons and Matt Lane also tallied goals in the fourth quarter. Evan Malloy made 12 saves in the net for the Orange, including several key stops in the game’s final minutes.
After Virginia’s Dox Aitken put the Cavs up 13-12 with seven minutes left, Lane knotted the game up for the final time with an unassisted goal at 5:45. After gaining possession with 33 seconds remaining in the game, Desko called his final timeout to draw up the play to free Salcido for the winning shot.
“We would rather not be in these nail-biters,” Salcido reasoned. “But (today) we were able to adapt and overcome.”
His coach agreed.
“He made a nice dodge and a nice shot,” Desko said. “It paid off for us.”
Surprisingly, SU won the game despite losing the ground ball battle. Virginia collected 43 ground balls to SU’s 27. The Orange, however, had face-off specialist Ben Williams back in the lineup. That helped. Williams missed the Army game with an injury.
Williams, who finished with seven ground balls, moved past Joel White as the program’s all-time leader in ground balls with 287. White finished his career with 283.
SU was lead in scoring by Lane and Solomon, with three goals each; Salcido had his two fourth quarter tallies while Nick Mariano, Jamie Trimboli, Jordan Evans, Peter Dearth, Brendan Bomberry and Simmons had one each.
Salcido (3), Lane (2), Solomon (2), Tyson Bomberry, Mariano and Stephen Rehfuss were credited with assists.
For the record, the Orange now holds a 17-16 advantage in the series with the Cavaliers. In the 33 games, SU has scored 430 goals and the Cavs 429 goals. Last year’s game went to SU, 14-13, in Charlottesville.