BALTIMORE, MDSophomore midfielder Brian Carroll’s second goal of the game with 1:29 remaining in overtime lifted No. 3 Virginia to a 14-13 win over Syracuse in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic Saturday afternoon at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
The Cavaliers improve to 4-0 overall this season, while the eighth-ranked Orange falls to 2-1.
The win Virginia’s fifth in a row over the Orange in a series that has been remarkably even in virtually all respects throughout the years. It stood to reason today’s game would be so close. In the previous 19 meetings dating back to the 1994 national semifinals the teams averaged 14 goals apiece, so perhaps overtime should not have been surprising.
The game featured nine ties and five leads changes, including four ties and a pair of lead changes in the fourth quarter alone as the teams traded goals throughout.
“It was a very exciting lacrosse game with a lot of the characteristics that seemed to distinguish this game over the years,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “I thought at times we many too many mistakes to win this game, so I wasn’t completely happy with how we played. But I thought both teams played really hard the whole time and we are really happy to get the win.”
The Orange opened the scoring with goals from Kenny Nims and Greg Niewieroski in the first 10 minutes, the Cavaliers responded. Max Pomper notched his first goal of the season late in the first quarter and Carroll tallied his fifth extra-man goal of the year for the game’s first tie at two early in the second quarter.
Mike Leveille, Syracuse’s leading scorer, broke the tie with an unassisted goal a short time later before the Cavaliers strung together goals by Rhamel Bratton and Danny Glading to take their first lead midway through the second quarter.
When Brendan Loftus scored 32 seconds before halftime to knot the game at 4-all, it did not look like the contest was going to play like many of the high-scoring affairs of years past.
“I thought Adam (Ghitelman) bailed us out a little bit in the first half on a couple of opportunities,” Starsia said.
As they had to open the game, the Orange jumped ahead early in the second half behind unassisted goals by Matt Abbott and Steven Brooks 13 second apart.
Five minutes passed with no scoring before things picked up with a flurry of scoring reminiscent of past match-ups. Jack Riley scored on a nice rip from 10 yards out to pull Virginia within one at 6-5 at the 7:10 mark. Leveille scored his second of the day a minute later as Syracuse’s lead grew to two once more.
Virginia junior Danny Glading scored consecutive goals 22 seconds apart for the game’s fourth tie; this time at seven.
Niewieroski capitalized on an errant pass by putting a shot past a surprised Ghitelman as Syracuse recaptured the lead at 8-7.
Once again Virginia responded behind goals from Garrett Billings and Ben Rubeor to close the quarter as the Cavaliers took a 9-8 lead into the final 15 minutes. Rubeor missed the first three games of the season and finished with a goal and two assists in his first appearance of the year.
“I felt like we were making too many mistakes in the second half,” said Starsia. “I felt the game was getting away from us in the second half and I wasn’t happy about that. But that’s when I thought we showed a little gumptionwhen we were down a couple times.”
Virginia’s lead was short-lived as Kenny Nims’ extra-man goal 21 seconds into the fourth quarter tied the score at nine and started a three-goal run by his team. Brooks notched his second of the game and Nims got another to give Syracuse its fourth two-goal lead of the game; Virginia never lead by more than one.
Shamel Bratton trimmed the Cavaliers’ deficit to one with his only goal of the game at the 8:39 mark. Defenseman Ken Clausen tied the score eight seconds later by scooping up the ensuing face-off on the dead run and beating goalie John Galloway for the second score of his career.
Loftus scored his second goal of the game on a fastbreak with fewer than seven minutes to play as Syracuse reclaimed the lead again.
For the fourth time in the second half Virginia bunched goals together as Garrett Billings and Will Barrow scored to give the Cavaliers their third lead of the game. Barrow’s goal with 2:58 to play came after he fielded a ground ball and raced three-quarters the length of the field to beat Galloway.
Following several fruitless possessions by each team, Brooks forced overtime with a tremendous overhand shot with 28 seconds remaining.
In the overtime, Syracuse got possession first but was unable to score after taking three shots. Rubeor turned the ball over on UVa’s first opportunity, but the Cavaliers got it back a short time later following a Syracuse turnover.
Barrow had a spectacular clear off the turnover to get the ball into UVa’s offensive zone. The Cavaliers patiently worked the ball around the perimeter of the box looking for a good shot. Midfielder Shamel Bratton, who had just subbed into the game, found Carroll alone in front. Carroll made a clean catch and beat Galloway from 10 yards out for the winner.
“This is what you hope to have from a sophomore that played a lot as a freshman,” Starsia said. “(I) feel like when the ball ends up in Brian’s hands from 15 yards out on the backside, (I) like our chances there. He’s been stroking the ball well for a month.”
“Shamel dodged down the left side,” said Carroll in describing the play. “The backside had been open all day and he made a great look across (to me) and luckily (my shot) went in.”
Making just the fourth start of his career, Ghitelman recorded a career-high 14 saves. Glading paced the offense with three goals and two assists, including two-and-two in the third quarter.
“We fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win,” Starsia said. “That’s the thing that we can probably be most pleased about.”
The Cavaliers return to action against VMI Tuesday (March 4) at 7 p.m. at Klckner Stadium.
Syracuse 2-2-4-5-013 record: 2-1
Virginia 1-3-5-4-114 record: 4-0
Scoring (G-A) SU: Steven Brooks 3-2, Kenny Nims 3-1, Mike Leveille 2-1, Brendan Loftus 2-0, Greg Niewieroski 2-0, Matt Abbott 1-0, Dan Hardy 0-1. VA: Danny Glading 3-2, Garrett Billings 2-2, Brian Carroll 2-0, Ben Rubeor 1-2, Shamel Bratton 1-2, Rhamel Bratton 1-0, Ken Clausen 1-0, Max Pomper 1-0, Will Barrow 1-0, Jack Riley 1-0.
Goalie SummarySU: John Galloway 61:35 mins., 15 saves, 14 goals allowed; Peter Coluccini 0:56 mins., 0 saves, 0 goals allowed. VA: Adam Ghitelman 62:31 mins., 14 saves, 13 goals allowed.
Shots: SU47, VA44
Ground Balls: SU 40, VA41
Clearing: SU 16x20, VA22x29
Faceoffs: SU 19, VA11
Penalties: SU 7-6:00, VA4-3:30
EMO: SU 4x4, VA2x5