It was a climatic finale, fitting for a dramatic regular season.
Traveling to Colgate on a damp Saturday afternoon, Syracuse looked to secure one more win before the NCAA tournament. After a season defined by close games, the Orange dug out a narrow 11-9 victory over the Raiders. However, even in the game’s closing seconds, success did not seem inevitable.
“Colgate came to play, today. It’s their last game on their home turf this year, and they played like it,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said.
The Orange got out to an early 3-0 lead with two back-to-back goals by Brendan Bomberry and one by Nate Solomon. Colgate soon answered back with a three-goal run of their own to close out the first quarter.
Jordan Evans broke the scoring drought for the Orange just as the rain started to pick up in the second quarter. Stephen Rehfuss and Jamie Trimboli followed suit, giving Syracuse a 6-3 advantage. With two minutes left in the half, though, Colgate’s Sam Cleveland cut into the Orange lead with his third goal of the game.
While the pouring rain abated after halftime, the deluge of Colgate scoring did not. Returning to the field, the Raiders scored three more unanswered goals.
The pressure of close scores late in games is something the Orange become quite familiar throughout the season.
“As the season goes on and we are in these types of situations more, you become more accustomed to them, and you’re more comfortable with them,” Bomberry said. “We just stay calm and do what we need to do and hopefully be successful. That’s what happened, today.”
Down 7-6, Brendan Bomberry helped turn the tide for Syracuse with a goal that set the Orange on another run. Sergio Salcido, Jordan Evans, and Pat Carlin each scored before the Raiders stemmed the flow of Syracuse goals midway through the fourth quarter.
With Colgate trailing 10-8, Syracuse looked to put the Raiders and the regular season to bed. However, Cleveland stepped up again for Colgate and netted another goal with 1:32 left to play.
As the clock ran down, the Raiders continued to press the Orange defense. A pair of costly turnovers by Syracuse presented Colgate with multiple opportunities to pull even with the Orange.
The Syracuse defense stood up to the pressure, though, and Evan Molloy capped off the afternoon in dramatic fashion. Launching the ball at Colgate’s open net as time expired, Molloy scored his first goal of the season.
“Everybody has to make a play when they are asked to. That’s how you win,” Molloy said of his team’s composure throughout the game. “Everyone on our team has a good sense, and they are confident in those situations. Every single guy out there knows they can make a play when they are asked to.”
“I thought we got off to a good start but then [Colgate] climbed back into it. We had a three-goal lead in the fourth, which proved to be enough.” Desko said. “We didn’t make the best of decisions going down the stretch…we’ll watch some film and learn from that but it is good to come out with a win.”
SU will return to action on Sunday as the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, hosting Ivy League champion Yale (10-5) at 7:30 p.m. in the first round.