If only Syracuse had another minute Thursday, the outcome may have been different. The stage was set. After storming back from a seven-goal deficit, the fourth-ranked Orange were primed for another comeback story.
Trailing by one and with the second-ranked Blue Devils short-handed, SU could not score the equalizer as Duke escaped with a 15-14 victory.
The loss dropped the Orange’s record to 4-2 and 1-1 in the ultra-competitive ACC. It also snapped SU’s four-game winning streak in the series between the two lacrosse powerhouses.
It is Early
So what can John Desko’s no. 4-ranked Orange take away from the disheartening defeat? First of all, it’s still only March, as Stephen Rehfuss pointed out. There’s a lot of lacrosse still to be played.
While disappointing, it is key to remember it early in the brutal stretch of conference games where all six teams are in the USILA’s Top 10.
“We always believe we can win every game,” the redshirt senior said, after leading SU with three goals and three assists. “We fought back and now have to move forward.”
After a tight first quarter, the Blue Devils took advantage of success at the X to jump out to 12-7 halftime lead. SU struggled to find its groove after missed opportunities on its own offensive end.
“Obviously we’re not happy with the loss,” Desko said. “It was a tale of two halves for both teams.”
After halftime, SU went on a streak of its own while limiting Duke to three second-half goals.
Rehfuss, Chase Scanlan (4 g, 1-a), Brendan Curry, Owen Seebold and Tucker Dordevic all played pivotal roles in the rally. The fact that frosh phenom Owen Hiltz was limited to one goal and two assists shows the overall strength of SU’s roster.
Defense is key
If you forget about the second quarter, the SU defense impressively held down the potent Duke offense, led by first-year stud, Brennan O’Neill, and transfer Michael Sowers. It was a necessity in order to get back in the contest. As usual, Drake Porter was stellar between the pipes, making 13 saves, many close-range shots.
In the game’s closing minutes, the Orange’s difficulty clearing resulted in an untimely turnover and missed chance to tie the contest.
Desko knows his defense will be tested again this season and, if any indication, will be up for the challenge.
“We came out and competed,” Desko said. “We weren’t going home without a fight.”
The road doesn’t get much easier. SU will host Notre Dame April 3. The Irish, currently undefeated and ranked sixth in the national polls, is on the Orange’s schedule twice this spring. SU will travel to South Bend May 1.