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Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Syracuse Stumbles in NCAA Quarterfinals to Towson

NEWARK, D.E. — Another season, another NCAA Quarterfinal defeat for John Desko and No. 2 Syracuse (13-3). This year, they fell victim to unseeded Towson (12-4) by a final score of 10-7.

The Tigers started fast, scoring six goals, including a hat trick from Joe Seider, in the first quarter.

“We haven’t done what we did in the first quarter today much throughout the season,” said Towson Head Coach Sean Nadelen. “It’s something that we continue to try to emphasize, just being much sharper especially offensively…”

The Orange also went man-down four times in that opening frame, with the Tigers converting on three of those instances. For Coach Desko, it was the unbridled excitement and adrenaline that was to blame.

“Our team was really fired up. They were really emotional and I think when you’re that emotional, you’re going to come out, you’re going to play physical, you’re going to play hard … I think it had a lot to do with how emotional we were, almost to a fault.”

After the explosive first quarter the Towson defense locked down the potent Orange midfield, allowing the top line of Salcido, Mariano and Trimboli to combine for only two points on the day. Goalkeeper Matt Hoy preformed spectacularly, stopping 12 shots and allowing just seven goals. And just like Evan Molloy last week, Hoy’s first quarter success allowed him to find a groove that lasted for a full sixty minutes.

“Early in the game, like that first quarter, I think it was Mariano [that] had that first man-up shot from the wing that I saved,”  Hoy recalled. “And that kind of put me in the zone for the rest of the game. It was really nice getting that first one. It gave me confidence on what I see is their best shooter right from the get-go.”

It was not only the quantity, but the timing of Hoy’s saves that led the Tigers to a victory. With Syracuse down just four goals in the fourth quarter, the senior stuffed Orange attackmen Nate Solomon and Jordan Evans from inside of five yards, both with under seven minutes to play.

“I thought we had a great run in the fourth quarter,” Desko said. “[We] got some really good shots off and I think both goalies played really well, especially their goalie in the fourth quarter. I thought he did a terrific job keeping the ball from the back of the Towson net.”

On offense, Joe Seider and Ryan Drenner each posted four points. However, the whole Towson offense had great success using a skip pass from behind to find an open shooter up top. It put the Tigers in a rhythm that proved to be enough to punch their ticket to Foxborough.

“I feel like everything was clicking for us in that first quarter,” Drenner said after the game. “And going into the second quarter, as a group, we said that we needed to take a level-headed approach to these next three quarters, that we hadn’t won anything yet and that a six-goal first quarter is not going to win you a game, it’s the play for the next three.”

“I couldn’t be more excited and more proud of our team and what they have been able to accomplish today and throughout the season,” coach Nadelen said.

Towson will go on to play No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday in the National Semifinals. That game will be a rematch from the regular season, in which the Buckeyes won a low-scoring affair 6-3.

For the Orange, six starters from this season will absent from the lineup next spring, including the team’s top three point scorers in Salcido, Mariano and Evans. SU will also miss Ben Williams at the face-off X in 2018, as the Holy Cross transfer won 61 percent of his draws in an Orange uniform in addition to becoming the all-time face-off wins leader in program history (669).

However, younger members of the team, such as Nate Solomon, are already feeling optimistic about the 2018 campaign.

“I feel pretty confident about next year, about becoming more of a leader, you know, with Jordan [Evans] graduating,” the sophomore said. “He really ran the offense, great offensive guy. Stephen Rehfuss has stepped up all year. We goal scorers, people who assist the ball every game, so I feel pretty confident about next year.”