Syracuse Post-Standard staff writer Donna Ditota's lead in today's edition effectively sums up Syracuse's performance yesterday afternoon against Virginia:
Syracuse ran out of miracles when it ran into a lacrosse juggernaut.From the perspective of my possession-based "victory factors," Syracuse was fairly competitive:
Top-seeded Virginia rode the tidal wave of a 9-2 start in Saturday's national semifinal to roll over the No. 5 Orange 17-10 and advance to Monday's NCAA Division I title game against Massachusetts.
SU, which lifted itself off the canvas of an early 1-4 start, gamely fought back Saturday and trimmed the deficit to 10-7 at halftime.
But the Cavaliers' brutally quick display of offense and their heady array of scoring weapons doomed the Orange on a day when SU needed to play nearly flawless against the nation's best team and did not.
"We dug ourselves too big of a hole against a good team and you can't do that against a team like this," said SU defender Steve Panarelli. "You just make it too hard on yourself."
|Victory Factors: SYR v. UVA|
Unfortunately, the "victory factors" fail to adequately illustrate why Syracuse lost on Saturday. While much of the blame for Syracuse's poor performance is attributable to the Cavaliers' relentless offense and the Orange's continued lunacy clearing the ball from its defensive end (which is depicted in the abovenoted stats), Peter Coluccini's cold start in net ultimately doomed the Orange.
The following three points buttress this conclusion:
- Virginia scored eight goals on its first eight shots;
- Coluccini, the young yet promising goaltender for Syracuse, did not record a save until the 10:22 mark of the second quarter; and
- Virginia scored 10 goals on 21 first half shots.
Had Coluccini been functional to start the game, there is a very good chance that the Orange could have pulled out the miraculous victory. Syracuse trailed by only three tallies at the half and only four goals at the close of the third quarter. With a stronger performance in net, there is no reason to believe that the Orange could not have forced a dogfight.
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Staaaaaate school . . . staaaaaate school.
It's official: lacrosse is no longer a fringe sport.
Logging its fourth consecutive year of semifinal attendance figures north of 45,000, the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships has become one of the best attended collegiate events in the country as well as a burgeoning fixture in the consciousness of a nation.
With championship weekend returning to Baltimore next year and Foxboro in 2008, the joy that is Final Four weekend should continue to blossom into a terrific event paralleling, if not surpassing, the College World Series. There is no ceiling to the popularity of America's first game, and if you have not yet exposed yourself to lacrosse, there is no better time than 1:00 Monday afternoon.