Top-Seeded Syracuse Survives Early Scare from Bryant

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. Sophomore phenom and Northeast Conference Player of the Year Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) went 22 for 23 at the faceoff X and set two more NCAA single-season records while a pair of Bulldogs netted hat tricks in the program's first-ever NCAA Division I tournament appearance, but despite an early lead, Bryant University dropped a 12-7 decision to top-seeded Syracuse University in Sunday's opening round at the Carrier Dome.

Senior captain Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) scored three times for the fourth-straight contest while junior midfielder Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) netted his ninth hat trick of the season as the Bulldogs (8-11) dominated the Orange (14-3) in the ground ball game, 35-23. But the second-ranked and top-seeded hosts outshot their visitors, 30-28, and turned the ball over just seven times to Bryant's 18 giveaways, a stat that proved to be the downfall for the underdog Black and Gold.

"There are so many things to say about this week and this experience," said head coach Mike Pressler. "To see busloads of our students come all the way from Rhode Island and to watch our crowd go crazy for us when we came out of the tunnel was just incredible.

"What this day meant, not only for Bryant lacrosse but Bryant University, just can't be put into words," he continued. "But at the end of the day, we came here to win, and there is no moral victory here. It was about winning and advancing, and with the score 9-7 going into the fourth quarter, we were right where we wanted to be, and we just didn't make the plays to close out the game."

But the plays the Bulldogs made to start the game had top-seeded Syracuse on its heels for much of the opening quarter. Just 39 seconds into Sunday's outing, Bryant owned a 2-0 edge over the Orange, thanks to the powerful shot of Dunster, as the All-NEC and All-New England First Teamer hammered the ball into the back of the net just 10 seconds into the game.

Dunster doubled the visitors' lead 29 seconds later, ripping a shot from 15 yards out past Syracuse netminder Dominic Lamolinara for the 2-0 advantage with 14:21 still to go in the first frame.

McMahon would make it 3-0 in the Bulldogs' favor nearly five minutes later, gathering a feed from Brian Schlansker (Glenville, N.Y.) behind the cage and unleashing a one timer that found net, forcing the Orange to call an early timeout. But the Black and Gold run wasn't over, as NEC Rookie of the Year Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) put the Black and Gold up by four when he found open space from the edge of the crease off a pass from junior middie Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.).

"We were ready to play, and it all started with Kevin Massa at the faceoff X," said Pressler. "Colin Dunster hits a couple big shots, and the next thing you know, we are up 4-0. But you know that Syracuse, especially in their own building, is going to come back."

And the Orange did fight back, with a little help from a pair of Bulldog penalties. The hosts would close out the frame on three-straight tallies. The first one, an unassisted goal from Luke Cometti, came even strength at the 7:29 mark, but the next two would come as a direct result of Bryant miscues.

With rookie Collins Gantz (Denver, Colo.) in the box for an offside call and Syracuse on the man advantage, redshirt-rookie Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) made a big save on an initial Syracuse shot. But when Bryant couldn't clear, Kevin Rice picked up the rebound and deposited it in the net to cut Bryant's lead in half, 4-2.

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