April 7, 2012

Orange Rides Third Quater Spurt, Beats Princeton

by Chris Iseman | LaxMagazine.com

Syracuse avoided a three-game losing streak on Saturday, beating Princeton at the Carrier Dome. Tim Desko sent a 30-yard pass to Tommy Palasek, who put home what held up as the game-winning goal with 4:11 left.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The play couldn't have worked out better for Syracuse.

With the score tied and just over four minutes remaining, Orange attackman Tim Desko picked the ball up near midfield after a failed Princeton clear and sent a pass of close to 30 yards downfield to an open Tommy Palasek in front of the cage. Palasek turned and fired a shot past Tigers goaltender Tyler Fiorito with 4:11 left for what held up as the game-winning goal.

Princeton failed to clear the ball on six separate occasions, and it cost the Tigers in a big way when Palasek scored his fourth goal of the game in Syracuse's 10-9 win over Princeton in front of 4,629 fans inside the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

"They were successful at times in clears, but a lot of times you could see there was some confusion," Palasek said. "Our guys didn't let up at the midfield, and fortunately, I was just standing 10 yards from the cage. Timmy made a great pass through the middle, through the defensemen, and I just turned and shot it."

Syracuse (5-4, 2-1 Big East) put together a five-goal third quarter, where it scored four goals in a span of 1:45, and rode the charge into the fourth.

Freshman Bobby Wardwell was the latest Orange goaltender to earn a start between the pipes, and after allowing three unanswered Princeton goals, he improved as the game progressed to preserve the Orange's lead. Wardwell finished with nine saves in his collegiate debut as Syracuse avoided a three-game losing streak.

Princeton, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped, went up 7-5 with 4:21 left in the third quarter. But in a span of a little less than two minutes, the Orange swung the momentum in its favor.

Syracuse midfielder Bobby Eilers scored with 1:45 left to pull the Orange within 7-6. Chris Daddio won the ensuing faceoff for Syracuse to earn possession. With 52 seconds left in the quarter, Palasek worked for an open look, and sent a low shot past Fiorito to tie the score at 7.

Less than 30 seconds later, Orange midfielder Ryan Barber scored. On the ensuing faceoff, Syracuse midfielder Kevin Drew scooped up the ground ball after it was knocked into open space, sprinted toward the cage and shot low to give the Orange a 9-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.

"Kevin Drew came up with that big goal in the end, where he literally just picked it up and ran, sprinted by everyone and scored," Daddio said.

Syracuse won 11-of-23 faceoffs in the game, and during that four-goal spurt, draws were especially critical.

Wardwell joined Dominic Lamolinara and Matt Lerman to start in net for the Orange this season. Syracuse head coach John Desko admitted after the game that it was a risky move considering he was charging a freshman with the task of snapping the Orange's two-game losing streak against a formidable Princeton scoring attack, but his decision ended up being a good one.

Wardwell let in three early goals, but settled in and challenged the Tigers' shooters. He made arguably his biggest save of the day with 2:32 left in the game, when Princeton midfielder Tom Schreiber shot high, but Wardwell quickly threw his stick up to make the save to preserve the Orange's one-goal lead

"They hit a couple pipes early, and some guys would maybe not get better as the game went on, and he got better as the game went on," Desko said. "He's very comfortable in tight. I think it showed his mental toughness today."

Turnovers – 19 by Princeton – and failed clear attempts are what doomed the Tigers, and Syracuse took advantage of nearly every one.

"They forced us to turn the ball over and that was the difference in the game," Princeton head coach Chris Bates said. "We didn't play with enough poise to win it, and that's what Syracuse does to you."

Right down to the final, game-winning goal.

"The last goal is a thing of beauty and it's as ugly as could be," Bates said. "They put the ball on the ground and get a transition scramble kind of goal that you can't really account for."

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