Joe Varello Scores Game-Winning Goal as Navy Defeats Syracuse
By Christian De Guzman
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Joe and Danny Varello crouched for a second in the middle of the Carrier Dome, just as the two had done throughout the afternoon. After the whistle blew, both dropped their sticks and hugged at the faceoff X.
Joe had just scored with 0.2 seconds left to give Navy (9-4, 7-1 Patriot League) a 13-12 win over Syracuse (7-5, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) in the Carrier Dome. The Midshipmen scored two goals within the final 10 seconds to secure the victory over the Orange.
“He’ll probably remember that for a long time,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said.
Syracuse had seemingly won the game after Tucker Dordevic gave the Orange a 12-11 lift with 58.9 seconds left. Danny won the ensuing faceoff and Syracuse called a timeout, with a plan to run out the clock, Desko said. When play resumed Navy triple-teamed Dordevic and forced a turnover with 25 seconds left leading to a game-tying Navy goal with 9.5 seconds remaining.
“There’s just no quit in this team,” said Navy Coach Rick Sowell. “We’re going to fight to the end – win, lose, or draw.”
Joe won the faceoff after Ray’s goal, passing the ball to long-stick midfielder Jeff Durden, who couldn’t handle the pass. Joe s ooped the ground ball and slipped a shot to the right of Dom Madonna to score.
“Our decision on that faceoff was to set our guys back and if I could push the ball forward to try and make a play,” said Joe. “[Durden] dropped it and it just landed right there for me.”
In the end, Joe got the better of his little brother in terms of faceoffs and the final score. Joe won 16 faceoffs to Danny’s 11.
Syracuse had its chances to win, as precise passing from Stephen Rehfuss carved up the Midshipmen zone defense throughout the afternoon. Rehfuss finished the game with a career-high six assists.
“Other guys were cutting, finding open seams, being in the right spots, and finishing their shots,” said Rehfuss.
Syracuse turnovers helped Navy stay within reach. In his weekly press conference this Thursday Desko said that the youth of Syracuse’s team was no longer an excuse. Today, the two freshmen on SU’s first midfield line in Dordevic and Brendan Curry combined for three turnovers.
“We still don’t want to have that many turnovers at this time of year,” said Desko.
When Syracuse did turn the ball over, Navy capitalized. Multiple Midshipmen goals were scored in unsettled situations.
“We’re always looking to score non six-on-six goals,” said Sowell.
Syracuse next game is against Virginia in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The Orange travels down to Charlottesville as the number one seed in the tournament in search of its third ACC title.