February 16, 2014

Staats Helps Syracuse Edge Albany in Overtime Classic

by Tyler Piccotti | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Live Blog Replay

Randy Staats had five goals and two assists in Syracuse's 17-16 overtime win over Albany on Sunday at the Carrier Dome. (Greg Wall)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Sunday's anticipated rematch between No. 2 Syracuse and No. 10 Albany often shifted instantaneously in terms of score and momentum.

But the one constant that emerged throughout 60 grinding minutes was the effective play of the Oragne's Randy Staats.

The junior attackman/midfielder netted five goals and added two assists to lead Syracuse to a thrilling 17-16 overtime victory over the Great Danes and continue his torrid start to 2014. He even delivered in the extra session, setting up Henry Schoonmaker for the game-winning tally.

"I just went out there and tried to win the game," Staats said. "My teammates have embraced me really well. They're supportive of me, and it's all good."

Through his first two games with the Orange, since transferring from JuCo power Onondaga Community College, Staats has scored six goals and notched four helpers.

After sustaining two separate ACL tears in 2010, Staats was a two-time junior college offensive player of the year at Onondaga. He led the Lazers to consecutive national championships in 2012 and 2013.

Luckily for John Desko's squad, he appears to have brought his scoring touch along to Syracuse.

In his Orange debut against Siena, Staats quickly made his presence known with three points. More importantly, he was introduced to the level of competition he now faces at the next level.

"It was real good, just gave me a feel for the Division I level," Staats said. "And I just had to get used to it and get the jitters out the first game... Today, I felt way more comfortable."

His first goal of the game with only seven seconds left in the first quarter gave the Orange a 7-3 lead and apparent control of the game.

But after the Great Danes stormed back to tie the game before halftime, he really began to put on a show.

He added three goals in the second half, but it still wasn't enough to seal the victory in regulation. It wasn't until he saw his teammate Schoonmaker wide open in the initial moments of overtime that he could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"I just kinda realized I was so open that I let it go," Schoonmaker said. "When I have nothing else, I kinda let it bounce, let the goalie dip so it goes low."

It was too low for Albany goalie Blaze Riorden, and the Orange had its revenge following last year's instant classic between the two teams.

Staats didn't really know how to describe his feeling at that moment, but he was more than happy to reenact the double fist pump he did when the ball found the back of the net.

And if he continues playing at a high level, he'll have plenty of occasions to celebrate throughout the 2014 season. That's one constant the Orange can benefit from in its quest to return to the national title game.

"It's good to have this win and to be 2-0," Desko said. "Coming off of Siena, we built on that, and we knew we'd be in a tough game, so it's great to come out on top."

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