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Saturday, Mar 02, 2019 at 7:40 pm

Virginia Finishes Comeback Over Syracuse in Overtime

By Nicole Weaving

CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter

Syracuse had the ball with a minute to play in the fourth quarter. Virginia had just knotted the game at 14 apiece after being down by four goals to start the frame. The Orange took four shots but none found the back of the net, sending the game to overtime.

The Cavaliers had the first possession of the extra frame and got into the same offensive scheme that got them back into the game. A minute in, Michael Kraus got a step on Andrew Helmer and tiptoed around the edge of the crease, looking ready to dive for the second time in the contest. Drake Porter made the save, but Helmer got called for a push.

Virginia Head Coach Lars Miller called a timeout to draw up a play for the man-up situation. He wanted the ball back in Kraus’ stick, who had already scored a hat trick. The penalty expired before the ‘Hoos could score, but moments later, Kraus dished the ball off to a wide-open Mikey Herring who put it past Porter on the doorstep to win the game.

The No. 12 Orange attack never got a chance in the 15-14 sudden victory as No. 13 Virginia (3-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) finished the comeback over Syracuse (2-2, 0-1).

On the final play, neither Marcus Cunningham nor Peter Dearth committed to guarding Kraus, leaving Herring wide open as both fled to stop Kraus.

“We weren’t supposed to switch but I think we had some miscommunication,” Syracuse Head Coach John Desko said. “The defenseman didn’t think the shortie could get through, so we did switch and as a result we had two guys on one offensive player and left the other one wide open on the corner.”

The final goal epitomized Syracuse’s struggles with Virginia’s two-man game all day.

“They weren’t sliding as much and they were kind of showing, so we knew we were going to beat some matchups and hit some drifts,” Kraus said. “And I think that last goal that Herring capitalized on was a perfect picture of that.”

Syracuse’s defense decided to invert the entire game, putting short sticks down low against Kraus, Ian Laviano, and Matt Moore. This strategy didn’t work though, as the three combined for seven goals.

“We have midfielders that are really good above the cage and behind the cage,” UVA’s Luke Conrad said. “We knew we were going to get a lot of those and basically a one-on-one because they were a little hesitant to slide. And we took advantage of those because we knew we had some pretty good matchups there.”

The three UVA attackers were particularly strong at using the crease to their advantage, getting SU defenders tangled up.

“They were doing a really good job of actually keeping their crease occupied. They were putting two guys in, so they were doing a lot of two-man games inside and I thought that kept us occupied a little bit,” Tyson Bomberry said. “It freed up their middies behind, their inverse to get like, we weren’t already ready for the slide because we were worried about our crease men inside.”

Virginia also exploited the legalization of the crease dive this season.

“Ian was getting some great looks on our dive cut. I think he got two or three goals just on that cut alone,” Conrad said. “They had to stay on him, so that’s what caused that hesitancy in the slide and we were able to adapt.”

Syracuse racked up extra push with possession calls as they adjusted to preventing the dive. The Orange had 11 penalties over the course of the contest.

One positive was SU’s man-down defense, limiting UVA to just two goals on nine opportunities.

The Orange will have a week to fix their mistakes before Johns Hopkins pays a visit on Saturday at 1 p.m.

nlweavin@syr.edu | @nicki_weaves