October 17, 2013

Best of Lacrosse: Best Upset Finalists

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

There's a reason they play the games, as the saying goes. Sometimes even long odds aren't enough to keep a hungry team from achieving the seemingly impossible. These five squads made it happen, but which gets your vote for #bestoflax?

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Best Upset Finalists

Albany over Syracuse

Scott Marr's Albany teams have had some great success over the years, but it wasn't until February 17th that they could call the boehemouth program to their west a victim, topping the Orange 16-15 in double overtime to start the 2013 season. In fitting form that held true to the rest of the Danes' season, it was a Thompson-Thompson connection that sealed the win, as Lyle found brother Miles for the game-winner with 3:03 to play in the second overtime, sending Syracuse to its first season-opening loss since 1996 and launching Albany on a big year.

Charlotte Hounds over Denver Outlaws

Denver had been perfect in the MLL regular season, the first team to accomplish that feat in the 13-year history of the league. They were 14-0 heading into a playoff semifinal matchup with the Charlotte Hounds. In just their second year as a franchise, the Hounds made the postseason as the fourth seed, at 7-7. But MLL playoff history has not been on Denver's side and they exited their eighth straight playoffs without winning a championship. A nightmare first quarter put the Outlaws in an 8-2 hole, and although they cut the deficit to 14-12 with 7:24 left on back-to-back goals by Eric Law and Justin Pennington to open the fourth quarter, Denver couldn't climb all the way back. It looked like Denver might get closer when Chris Bocklet threw a long pass to a streaking Brendan Mundorf just a minute later, but Mundorf stepped in the crease trying to handle the pass and turned it over. Moments later, the Hounds' Mike Sawyer scored for Charlotte to end what was a Denver five-goal run and the Hounds held on for the win. Charlotte faceoff man Geoff Snider ruled the day, winning 17 of 25 draws. Sawyer finished with four goals, including a 2-pointer.

-Corey McLaughlin

UC Davis over Stanford

Going into senior night on April 25th, the Aggies had never topped a team in the IWLCA Top 20 and hadn't earned a win over MPSF foe Stanford in 13 years. But a crease roll with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime ended all that, as senior Elizabeth Datino found paydirt to give UC Davis a 15-14 win and stop a 19-game losing streak to the Cardinal. Datino had five goals in the contest, helping the Aggies out to an 11-6 lead in the second half. Stanford stormed back and took a 13-12 lead as the second half ticked away, but Hannah Mirza netted the equalizer with under two minutes remaining to set up the overtime heroics.

Washington & Lee over Salisbury

It's not that Washington and Lee wasn't a good team or Salisbury had a bad day. At the time, Salisbury was 1-1 and hadn't been under .500 since the dawn of the first Bush administration and hadn't lost two games in a row since 2009. So when senior midfielder Luke Heinsohn scored off a feed from fellow senior midfielder Jack Switala with under ten seconds remaining in the second overtime in Salisbury, the Generals had a unique win in the Division III landscape, particularly since the Sea Gulls hadn't lost at home since April of 2011. The game nearly didn't go to overtime, as the Generals had a 6-3 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Gulls rallied, giving Heinsohn the opportunity for the big moment.

3d Select over LI Express (USL U15 Final)

There's nothing all that surprising about a defending champion going down in the next year's tournament finale nor a two-seed beating a one-seed, but the gold medal game of the 2013 US Lacrosse Boys' U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, stands out for who, exactly, made those things happen. With 12 of 23 players from Colorado and another three from California, 3d Select served notice that talent in the West isn't rising in the form of occasional players matriculating to the NCAA's top rosters; coaches are building whole teams that can knock off counterparts from the sport's traditional areas. And this one wasn't close. Alec Barnes, a rising sophomore at Regis Jesuit (Colo.) High School, won 14 of 18 faceoffs and added a goal and two assists to help make 3d Select the first Western-based team to win the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship in the event's five-year history. The top-seeded Long Islanders were averaging 13 goals per game through six tournament games, but Lacrosse Magazine All-Tournament defensemen Will Weitzel and goalie Otto Bohan held them scoreless for a stretch of 30:31.

-Paul Krome

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