Syracuse Upsets No. 17 Villanova in the Big East Semifinals

VILLANOVA, PA No. 3 seed Syracuse used a 6-0 run to defeat No. 2 seed Villanova, 15-6, in a Big East semifinal in front of a crowd of 3,415 at Villanova Stadium on Thursday evening. SU was led by seniors Bobby Eilers and Tommy Palasek, as the Orange ended the game on a 10-2 run over the final 30 minutes.

Syracuse, which improves to 8-7 this season, will play No. 4 seed St. John's, which upset No. 1 seed Notre Dame earlier in the evening, in the championship final on May 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.

Eilers led the Orange with four goals, while Palasek had four points on a goal and three assists. SU had nine players record a goal.

Syracuse held a 2-1 lead after the first quarter after Eilers scored the first two goals of the game- his fifth two-goal game in the last six games.

Senior Kevin Cunningham put the Wildcats on the board after taking an assist from junior Nick Doherty.

In the second quarter, junior Luke Cometti from Syracuse found the back of the net, but Villanova's Kevin O'Neil answered with a score of his own.

Syracuse took a 5-2 lead, with goals coming from redshirt-senior Tim Desko and sophomore Derek Maltz. But Villanova responded with a pair of goals of its own, as juniors Nick Doherty and Will Casertano made it a one-goal game.

Freshman Matt Walters scored with 10 seconds remaining in the first half to give SU a 6-4 lead heading into the break. The Orange held a 20-11 advantage in shots and 21-12 edge in ground balls.

Less than a minute into the second half, Desko dished it out to Eilers, who scored his third goal of the game. Redshirt-freshman Hakeem Lecky's goal gave the Orange an 8-4 lead, but junior Jack Rice netted one to cut the Orange lead. Walters' goal gave Syracuse a 9-5 advantage.

Rice scored his second goal of the game for Villanova off an assist from junior Max Hart with just under two minutes left in the third quarter to make it a three-goal game.

But SU quickly responded with a 6-0 run to close out the game. The two teams met earlier this season, with the Wildcats posting an 11-10 win on March 25.

Syracuse held a 41-22 advantage in ground balls and won 13 of the 25 faceoffs. Freshman goalie Bobby Wardwell made 12 saves for the Orange, while Villanova's Dan Gutierrez had eight saves in the cage.

"We've been stressing playing 60 minutes of lacrosse and this year we have kind of played a good first half or a good second half," said Syracuse Head Coach John Desko. " I thought we got 60 minutes of (good) lacrosse, which was our goal. It's a big win for us obviously, at Villanova. Now we have a chance to go on to play St. John's for the Big East championship."

* * * *

VILLANOVA, Pa. No. 17 Villanova (8-7, 4-2) closed the gap to 5-4 with over 45 minutes left to play, but it wouldn't be enough to hold off Syracuse (8-7, 3-3), as the Wildcats fell 15-6 in their Big East semifinal in front of 3,415 at Villanova Stadium.

Syracuse will go on to face fourth-seeded St. John's in the Big East Championship at Noon on Saturday, May 5th. With the loss, the Wildcats now await their postseason fate for the NCAA Tournament. The field of 16 will be decided on Sunday, May 6th as the picks are announced live on ESPNU at 9:00 p.m.

Head coach Mike Corrado stated, I thought Syracuse came out in the second half and did a great job on face-offs. They really controlled the faceoffs. That was tough, then you start pressing out and you give them high percentage scoring chances ... I wish Syracuse and St. John's the best of luck on Saturday in the Championship game.

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