"Cardiac ‘Cuse" fought back hard but couldn't convert a last-second shot into an equalizing goal Sunday afternoon in the ACC title game against Notre Dame. The Orange fell 15-14 to the Fighting Irish in a physical battle that saw both teams gain sizeable leads on one another.
"Well, who said we're not in the entertainment business?" Desko said following the game. "My hat's off to Notre Dame. They played hard the whole game."
Both teams fought hard. The Irish, though, fought a little harder, as ann NCAA tournament berth likely rested on an ACC championship.
It was another great team effort for Syracuse; again, eight Orange scored points, with Randy Staats' five goals leading the team. Kevin Rice had six assists and now owns the ACC tournament record with 10 assists.
Notre Dame had the first goal of the match, but Syracuse climbed out to an early three-point lead in the second half. It didn't last long; the Irish fought back, taking advantage of a poor showing from goalie Bobby Wardwell, who started in place of senior Dominic Lamolinara, and some sloppy passing in the Syracuse midfield.
By halftime the score was tied up at 7-7, and a quick goal by the hero of the Duke contest, Dylan Donahue to begin the second half gave the Orange a one-point lead.
After that, Notre Dame went on a spree, scoring six in a row on Wardwell before Staats cut the deficit to 13-9 on an assist from Derek Maltz. Notre Dame would answer thirty seconds later to enter the fourth quarter with a five-goal lead.
In what's become familiar, Syracuse lit up during the fourth quarter, adding five points to the board between four players—Staats with two, Ward, Maltz, and Loy with one each—to close the gap 15-14. With thirty seconds left in regulation a huge save Notre Dame goalie Connor Kelly stopped Rice's last attempt, which Rice lamented later, "It's all on me. I've got to finish that in that situation."
A win keeps Notre Dame in contention for a bid into the NCAA tournament; Syracuse will already play for the national championship. Syracuse didn't rest on that; the team fought physically the entire way through.
"We never quit. That's a great characteristic to have," Desko said.
Orange players Kevin Rice, Brandon Mullins, Dylan Donahue and Randy Staats were named to the ACC all-tournament team following the game.
The Orange face their final opponent of the season, Colgate, this Saturday, May 3 at 4 pm at the Carrier Dome.