Syracuse Upsets No. 17 Villanova in the Big East Semifinals

The Orange got off to a quick start as Bobby Eilers notched the first two scores of the game at the 11:48 and 4:07 marks, but the Wildcats netted a last-minute goal from senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) to close the gap 2-to-1 going into the second quarter.

The Orange and Wildcats traded goals in the second stanza and the Wildcats found their stride when sophomore Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) capitalized on an extra-man opportunity at the 12:05 mark from a C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) assist. Syracuse's Tim Desko and Derek Maltz responded with two scores to open the lead at 5-2 before VU's Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) and Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) got the Wildcats to within one at 5-to-4 with 6:49 remaining in the half. Going into the locker rooms, Syracuse held a 6-4 lead.

The second half favored the Orange who outscored the Wildcats 10-2 in the final 30 minutes, including a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter. Syracuse's Eilers netted two scores while the Orange saw points from 10 different athletes in the second half. Villanova junior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) captured both tallies for the Wildcats in the third quarter with assists credited to Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) and Cunningham.

Defensively, Villanova senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) made eight saves in the defeat while sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Farifield, N.J.) picked up a team-high five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Syracuse's Bobby Wardwell captured 12 saves for the victory and while Brian Megill collected seven ground balls.

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Senior Bobby Eilers (Simsbury, Conn.) a career-high four goals and the third-seeded Syracuse men's lacrosse team (8-7) outscored No. 2 seed Villanova, 9-2, in the second half to run away with a 15-6 win against the Wildcats (8-7) in the Big East semifinals on Thursday, May 3 at Villanova Stadium. SU advances to the championship game of the inaugural conference tournament, and will face off with St. John's on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

“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. Now we have a chance to go on to play St. John's for the Big East Championship.”

Leading 6-4 at halftime, Syracuse and Villanova went back and forth throughout the third quarter before the Orange exploded for the game's final six goals. SU goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell (Clifton Park, N.Y.) kept the Wildcats quiet in the final 30 minutes, and tied a career-high with 12 saves in the contest.

Syracuse held a dominating 41-22 edge in ground balls for the game, led by a career-high eight by Ricky Buhr (Manhasset, N.Y.) also led the Orange at the faceoff X, going 11 for 20 as SU won 13 of the game's 25 draws overall.

The Orange jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with two goals from Eilers, the first coming four minutes into the contest on a shot that beat VU goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez five-hole, and the second when he buried a shot with 4:07 left in the quarter. Villanova answered late in the first as Kevin Cunningham beat Wardwell with 38 seconds remaining.

Syracuse extended its lead back to two just 1:26 into the second quarter as sophomore Billy Ward (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) found junior Luke Cometti (Syracuse, N.Y.), who cut to the cage for the score. After Kevin O'Neil made it 3-2 with a man-up tally, redshirt senior Tim Desko (Syracuse, N.Y.) took a feed from sophomore Matt Harris (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and quickly spun around to beat Gutierrez for a 4-2 Orange advantage with 11:43 left in the first half.

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