Rematch of last year's final ends in tie

The defending national champion Syracuse Orange saw their first action in a preseason scrimmage in the Carrier Dome today against Navy, a rematch of the national championship game just eight months ago.

Syracuse won its last meeting in a thrilling 14-13 game, to capture the 2004 championship. The rematch proved to be just as good, ending in a 13-13 tie.

With Syracuse trailing 13-12 in the final 6 minutes and 41 seconds, coach John Desko wasn't about to let the scrimmage end in an Orange loss. Desko called two timeouts in the final two minutes to draw plays up for his offense and get in the personnel he wanted.

"We're going to be in those types of situations. We have to figure those out and it helps us to be better prepared for that," said Desko.

They seemed ready to respond. Brian Crockett received a feed from Jarett Park and ripped a shot past Navy substitute goalie Matt Hage with five seconds remaining, cementing the tie.

In the first game since losing star attackman Michael Powell and six of their seven top scorers to graduation, Syracuse came out with two new starting attackmen, freshman Mike Leveille and junior Brett Bucktooth.

Both proved they belonged. Leveille scored four goals, tied for the game-high and converted midfielder Bucktooth scored one goal and dished out four assists. Crockett, the only returning top scorer added two goals.

"He (Leveille) really had a presence today, with or without the ball. He did a terrific job for a freshman," Desko said.

The two teams battled back and forth throughout the game. The largest lead for either team was two goals.

After a pushing foul on sophomore defender Steve Panarelli with 7:13 remaining, Navy's Billy Looney broke a 12-12 tie with a man-up goal. Looney tallied four goals and one assist for the Midshipmen.

The Navy offense then played a possession game, slowing the tempo down and working the clock. With 3:35 remaining in the game, Navy coach Richie Meade pulled veteran goaltender Matt Russell, replacing him with Hage. Russell had seven saves on the game.

"I thought we showed some composure. We played against a team that was very patient when they had the ball offensively," said Desko. "When we got it at our end, we knew we had to hold it and rest the defense for that time."

Syracuse's defense is largely considered the strength of the team, with returning senior goaltender Jay Pfeifer. Senior Scott Ditzell, junior John Wright and sophomore Steve Panarelli also bring back experience to the defense.

Desko said there are areas he wants to see his team improve. He wanted to do a better job with groundballs though Navy (32) only had one more than the Orange. He also wants to limit turnovers and win more face-offs. Navy won 17 out of 29 face-offs.

Freshmen and sophomores scored the Orange's first six goals. Sophomore midfielder Stephen Brooks scored two goals.

Syracuse has a scrimmage February 19 at Maryland before returning home for their first regular season game against Army.

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