Syracuse's first loss comes to another powerhouse

Syracuse suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of rival Virginia today in a match-up of the past three national champions and lacrosse powerhouses.

Everyone knew No. 2 ranked Syracuse had a strong, experienced defense. Everyone knew No. 6 ranked Virginia had a potent offense and a solid face-off man.

Form held. The one thing not many people expected and what led to be a difference-maker was Virginia's goalkeeping.

Virginia (3-0) beat Syracuse (1-1) in a thrilling 12-11 game behind solid goalkeeping by sophomore Kip Turner, who came up with 18 saves in his first full 60 minutes of his career.

With Syracuse trailing by two goals in the final two minutes of the game, Brian Crockett cut the lead to one with one minute and 17 seconds remaining with a turnaround shot fired above Turner's shoulder.

Danny Brennan won Syracuse the ensuing face-off and Syracuse called timeout with 1:01 left. A Jarett Park shot ricocheted out-of-bounds off a Virginia defender with 36 seconds remaining. Virginia won the ball back, sealing the victory.

"We were trying to set up a middie dodge and tried to find an open man, but they played it pretty good," said Crockett, who was beat to the sideline after Park's shot. "I thought I got there. When the ball went out I thought I was ahead of my man."

Virginia used a combined seven goals from junior midfielder Matt Poskay (four) and senior attackman John Christmas (three) to hand Syracuse its first loss in the Carrier Dome since a 12-11 loss to Rutgers April 12, 2003. Syracuse was riding a 10-game home winning streak.

After Syracuse used a four-goal run to end the third and start the fourth quarter, the Orange held a 10-9 lead with 11:55 remaining. It was only their second lead of the game. Virginia then countered with their own three-goal run.

While Syracuse went 2-for-3 on man-up opportunities, it was the one that got away that eventually cost the game. A 30 second Virginia holding penalty on Drew Thompson with 3:43 remaining led to a Bucktooth shot and Turner save.

Christmas scored with 3:03 remaining to take a 12-10 lead, completing a two-goal swing after the failed man-up opportunity.

"They have a lot of answers. They have a few guys who get their motors running," said coach John Desko. "To play a team like this, we learn a lot about ourselves. We played with some heart and this will make us a better team in the future."

Crockett and junior attackman Brett Bucktooth combined for three goals apiece for Syracuse. Greg Rommel added two.

After a slow start to the game, Syracuse used a combined effort of Brennan and senior Geoff Keough to slow down Virginia face-off specialist Jack deVilliers. Virginia won 14-of-27 face-offs in the game.

Virginia took a 5-4 lead at halftime and held an eight to three edge in face-offs at the time. Often sloppy in the first half, both teams committed several offensive turnovers and failed to clear the ball from their defensive end.

The Cavaliers took an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter after seven shots by the Virginia offense. Nearly five minutes passed before the Syracuse offense touched the ball at the start of the game. Park and Bucktooth scored goals one minute apart from each other to tie the game with 8:41 left in the first quarter.

Syracuse took their first lead of the game to start the second quarter with a Rommel goal. Virginia responded to tie the game at three apiece just 30 seconds later.

"I think they felt a sense of urgency not to get down by anymore and stop our run," Desko said.

Syracuse senior Jay Pfeifer, came up with nine stops.

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