Syracuse lacrosse season ends with NCAA Tournament loss at Loyola

Syracuse attackman Stephen Rehfuss
Syracuse attackman Stephen Rehfuss looks upfield. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Baltimore, Md. – In a similar scenario to its other post-season loss this season, losing a late three goal lead to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, No. 11 seed Syracuse (9-5) saw a four goal lead evaporate in the third and fourth quarters against host No. 7 seed Loyola Saturday afternoon, and the Greyhounds scored five fourth quarter goals to send SU home with a 15-13 defeat in front of a robust crowd at Ridley Athletic Complex.

Loyola attackman Pat Spencer showed why he is the front runner for the Tewaarton Trophy as national player of the year, he scored three times, including a highlight worthy behind-the-back left-handed shot just inside the post, and continuously fed cutting teammates to finish with six assists to move into second place all-time in NCAA scoring and assists.

As has been the case most of the season, Syracuse’s offense was balanced, with four ‘Cuse players each scoring two goals, but Loyola (12-4) did a great job of shutting down SUs leading scorer Brad Voigt who was held to just two assists.

With SU holding on dearly late in the third quarter, momentum started to turn to the Greyhounds by virtue of dominating the face-offs (10 of 13) and overall possession.  The Orange was whistled for back-to-back penalties 43 seconds apart, and LU scored on both opportunities to close the gap to 12-10 entering the fourth quarter.

That’s when the faceoff battle loomed large, with Loyola’s Bailey Savio getting the better of SU’s Jakub Phaup and Danny Varello 31-18 overall.

» Related: Breaking down Syracuse lacrosse, 2019 NCAA Tournament with Eamon McAnaney

“With all of those second half possessions, we ended up playing too much defense,” head coach John Desko said after the sour end to a season that saw SU open on the road in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.  “We’re disappointed that we’re now talking about next year, instead of talking about playing next week.”

Nine Syracuse players closed out their collegiate careers Saturday, including offensive aces Voigt and Nate Solomon, and defensemen Tyson Bomberry and Marcus Cunningham.  The thought that these seniors are moving on hit home for one midfielder that will be counted on to add offense next season.

“It’s going to be a lot of hard goodbyes,” an emotional sophomore Brendan Curry said afterwards fighting back tears.  “We can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done.  They changed the culture.  Just the fact that we won’t have another day in the locker room, or to go out for food, or whatever, it just sucks.”

While the core group of Syracuse seniors will leave without making a trip to the Final Four, and with 2020 marking 10 complete seasons since the Orange went to championship weekend, Desko knows there is plenty of young talent returning and joining the program.

“I thought that we grew as the year went on, Desko said.  “We won a bunch of games going down the stretch, were disappointed in the Carolina (ACC) loss, we had to deal with a two week stretch here, played well in the first half, but again, lack of possessions in the second half killed us.”

Next season will bring change as usual, including more outdoor home games, but the one nagging question will remain, when will Syracuse lacrosse get back to competing for a national championship at the Final Four?

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 579 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.