May 12, 2013

'Cuse Overcomes Bryant's Quick Start, Faceoff Domination

from staff reports

Kevin Rice led the Orange with four points on two goals and two assists as Syracuse dug out of an early 4-0 deficit to beat Bryant at the Carrier Dome.
© Rich Barnes

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The top-seeded Orange (14-3) overcame an early 4-0 deficit and a big day by Bryant faceoff man Kevin Massa and defeated the Northeast Conference champion Bulldogs (8-11) 12-7 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night at the Carrier Dome.

Sophomore attackman Kevin Rice led the Orange with four points (two goals, two assists) and redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue scored a team-high three goals.

With the victory, the Orange improved to 10-3 in first-round NCAA games and advanced to the quarterfinal round for the 30th time in school history. Syracuse will face Ivy League champ Yale on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. Yale advanced by beating eighth-seeded Penn State on Saturday, 10-7.

Bryant's Colin Dunster scored twice in the opening minute Sunday to help the visiting Bulldogs jump out to a 4-0 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. However, the Orange defense weathered the storm and allowed just three goals over the last 52 minutes.

It was a masterful defensive performance considering Syracuse lost 22 of the game's 23 faceoffs to the Northeast Conference Player of the Year Massa, who set a new NCAA record for faceoffs in a regular season (315), surpassing the mark of 311 set by Delaware's Alex Smith in 2007. The Orange was able to minimize the damage and get some of those possessions back thanks to 18 Bryant turnovers, including 11 that were forced by the defense.

"Their faceoff guy was really special," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "We had to play a lot of defense."

After the early Bryant outburst, senior Luke Cometti got the Orange on the board with 7:29 to go in the first. Rice followed with a goal, and sophomore ripped one home from 12 yards out to slice the deficit to 4-3 after the opening 15 minutes.

In the second quarter, Peter McMahon pushed the Bryant advantage back to two, 5-3, at the 5:37 mark, but the rest of the period belonged to the Orange. Syracuse notched consecutive goals, including Donahue's finish of a pretty Billy Ward pass with four seconds left, to tie the game at halftime, 5-5.

The Orange continued its charge in the third quarter as Cometti struck three minutes into the second half to give Syracuse its first lead at 6-5. His goal sparked a 4-1 Orange rally that put the hosts firmly in control of game, 9-6.

Dunster finally stopped the Syracuse surge with an unassisted goal in the final minute of the third quarter. However, his goal was the last one for the Bulldogs as the Syracuse tacked on three in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

Dunster and McMahon combined for six of Bryant's seven goals. Both players finished with three apiece. Starting goalie Gunnar Waldt made 10 saves for the Bulldogs, including six in the first half. Waldt was replaced in the cage by Tom Carey late in the game. Carey allowed one goal and did not make a save.

Cometti finished with two goals and one assist for Syracuse. Orange goalie Dominic Lamolinara made his first NCAA Tournament start between the pipes and stopped eight shots to pick up the win.

Massa's eight ground balls Sunday pushed his first broken record of the year to even greater heights, as the second-year faceoff specialist finished 2013 with 231 ground balls after breaking the previous single-season NCAA record of 194 back on May 2. And with the Bulldogs' season official in the books, the New York native also solidified a third new NCAA mark Sunday night – this one for ground balls per game. Massa finishes his sophomore campaign averaging 12.16 per outing, smashing the previous record of 11.41, set by Geoff Snider in 2006.

"It's incredible to look at what he has accomplished in 19 games, and even more incredible when you consider what each team throws at him game in and game out," said Bryant coach Mike Pressler. "And he just continues to dominate."

Syracuse's quarterfinal matchup with Yale will be the Orange's second postseason meeting with the Bulldogs. In the 1992 quarters, Syracuse knocked off Yale 17-8 at the Carrier Dome. The Orange is 18-4 against Yale all-time.

Game Notes: Syracuse is 24-2 all-time in NCAA playoff games at the Carrier Dome ... The Orange has reached the quarterfinals in 30 of its 33 NCAA appearances ... Senior Brian Megill forced one turnover against Bryant to increase his career caused turnover total to 99 ... Redshirt sophomore Peter Macartney and junior Matt Harris each attempted the first faceoffs of their careers ... Macartney was 0-for-1 and Harris went 1-of-12

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