Syracuse Upsets No. 17 Villanova in the Big East Semifinals

Sophomore Derek Maltz (Ashburn, Va.) extended the Syracuse lead to three at 5-2 when converted on a behind-the-back shot off a dish from Desko with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, forcing the Wildcats to call timeout.

Villanova quickly narrowed the deficit to one with two goals following the timeout. Nick Doherty sprinted around the net to lose his defender and snuck a shot past Wardwell. Eric Garner did the same less than one minute later and found Will Casertano for the score to make it 5-4 SU.

With Syracuse on the man-up and 10 seconds left in the second quarter, senior Tommy Palasek (Rocky Point, N.Y.) hit freshman Matt Walters (Villanova, Pa.) with a pass, who then beat Gutierrez for his third goal of the season to bring the Orange lead back up to two, 6-4, at halftime.

Syracuse made it a three-goal game again as Eilers completed the hat trick in the opening minute of the second half with a bullet from 10 yards out after taking a feed from Desko. After Hakeem Lecky (Nantucket, Mass.) gave SU an 8-4 lead, Cunningham trimmed the SU lead to three with a fast-break goal 51 seconds later.

The teams continued to trade goals during the third as Walters and sophomore Scott Loy (Toledo, Ohio) sandwiched goals around a Jake Rice tally to give the Orange a 10-6 advantage through 45 minutes of play.

Two quick fourth-quarter goals from Eilers and Loy gave the Orange a commanding 12-6 lead with 10:39 remaining in regulation, and Syracuse tacked on three more goals in the last quarter to secure a spot in the conference championship.

Palasek tied Eilers for game-high scoring honors, netting four points (1g, 3a). Maltz and Desko finished with one goal and two assists each.

Rice and Cunningham led the Wildcats with two points apiece. Rice notched two goals, while Cunningham contributed one goal and one assist. Villanova goalie Dan Gutierrez finished with eight saves.

Game Notes: Eilers' four-goal game marked the fifth time in the past six games he's scored at least two goals ... Desko and Ward each tied their career bests with two assists ... Lecky, Walters and Loy all set new career highs with two goals apiece ... Junior JoJo Marasco's (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) fourth-quarter assist extended his point scoring streak to 23 games ... Syracuse improved to 3-0 all-time in road games against the Wildcats ... St. John's, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, upset top-seeded Notre Dame in the first semifinal, 8-7.

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