Annapolis, Md. – The No. 9 Syracuse lacrosse team continues to make a loud statement as it begins its post season quest next week with the ACC Tournament, it is jelling at both ends of the field at exactly the right time.
SU (9-3) won its fourth straight game to end the regular season by blitzing Navy 18-9 on a sunny and windy late Saturday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 2,980 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Orange struggled early defensively, then settled down and essentially put the game away with a four goal burst in the final 4:30 of the first half to take a 10-5 halftime lead.
“We’ve been trying to get better all season long, trying to put a 60 minute game together, and I think we did that today,” head coach John Desko said following a longer than usual postgame celebration with his players. “We put up a lot of points (goals) and held them down, played four quarters of lacrosse at this time of the year.”
Continuing the season-long rotation of Jakob Phaup and Dan Varello taking faceoffs, the ‘Cuse duo actually had their difficulties against Navy freshman specialist Nick Barry going just 11-for-25 on the draws up until reserves came in, but SU had too many other better lacrosse players on the field against the Middies, and those weapons were out in force.
Brad Voigt dazzled with five goals (on just six shots) from five different angles around the Navy (5-7) cage, fellow attackmen Stephen Rehfuss with seven points (2/5), and Nate Solomon with five more points (2/3) paced the relentless offensive demonstration, while the defense held an opponent to single digits in goals scored for the seventh time in 12 games this season.
“We’ve been waiting for a game like this to show our chemistry,” a smiling Voigt explained to the media. “It’s been there all season, but we’ve been waiting to go off. A great game.”
Goalie Drake Porter was solid with 16 saves before departing, along with virtually all of the starters, midway through the fourth quarter.
“I’ve said it for the last couple of weeks, we have the best defense in the country,” Porter recited afterwards. “If you look at our one-on-one defense today (against Navy’s scoring ace Greyson Torain), at times we didn’t even have to slide towards him. That’s incredibly impressive (how effective the defense moved). The communication, the one-on-one work, impressive.”
Despite the hot finish for the Orange, as a result of Notre Dame’s 12-10 win over North Carolina earlier Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Syracuse is locked into the No. 4 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament, having to face the No. 5 seed Tar Heels for the second time in 12 days on Carolina’s home field following SU’s 12-9 win April 13. If SU advances, top seed Virginia would await next.
The Syracuse-North Carolina opening round ACC game will be Thursday, April 25 (7:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network Extra).