first_imgJoe Alberici kept looking down at his play sheet, looking for the answer. Army’s head coach had seen his team run almost everything he could draw up. The Black Knights had maintained possession for most of two overtimes. Still, he could not crack the Syracuse defense.But as the clock dipped below 10 seconds, his offense finally broke through. Junior attack Jeremy Boltus managed to gain some rare separation from Syracuse defender John Lade. Boltus found Army midfielder Devin Lynch open at the top of the crease for the game-winning goal. With that, No. 2 Syracuse’s quest for a third-straight national championship came to a screeching halt.The goal gave Army (11-5) a 9-8 double overtime win at the Carrier Dome in front of 5,479 fans Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.Despite the Black Knights’ command of possession, Junior midfielder Jovan Miller said after the game that SU had only itself to blame. ‘I’d have to say it was just a meltdown on our part,’ he said. ‘I don’t think it had anything to do with what they were doing. I think that whenever we got possession of the ball … we were in a hurry all the time. I think we put that pressure on ourselves.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe loss marks the first defeat for SU (13-2) in a tournament game at the Dome since a 1991 loss to North Carolina in the national semifinals. Bad turnovers and unproductive offense cost Syracuse against the Black Knights. Army advances to play No. 7 Cornell in Stony Brook, N.Y. next Sunday.The first three quarters of the game looked like an instant replay of the teams’ meeting earlier this season. The Orange had enough firepower to overcome some uncharacteristically sloppy play on offense (19 turnovers on the day, 10 of them unforced) as junior goalie John Galloway and the defense turned away the Army attack.But after an Army shot rolled out of bounds with 2.6 seconds left in the first half, momentum swung the Black Knights way thanks to one possession. Army junior midfielder Rob McCallion held the ball near the back end line, waiting for the referees whistle to restart play. As he waited, the rest of the Black Knights organized themselves for the inbounds play.When the whistle blew, Lynch weaved his way through the cluster of players and cut to the top of the crease. McCallion hit him with the pass and the sophomore buried the easy shot with one second left for what Alberici called ‘the most important goal of the game’. It pulled Army within two — down 6-4 — just before the break and foreshadowed the game’s stunning conclusion.In the second half, the typical Syracuse run that buried the Orange’s lesser opponents all year never materialized. Army goalie Tom Palesky made multiple saves on Syracuse possessions. SU’s passes went high, low and wide of each other’s sticks. SU’s faceoff men didn’t win a faceoff in the third quarter but even when the defense made stops, the Orange attack simply sputtered.‘We didn’t really stay composed and run our offense the way we know we can,’ said senior attack Cody Jamieson, who led Syracuse with three goals. ‘… They just did what they had to do.’Without the offensive production, Army evened the game at eight when Boltus broke free in transition for his second goal of the night with 6:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.After the score, neither team could capitalize on their opportunities before the end of regulation. SU sophomore Tim Desko bounced a shot off the post followed by Army midfielder Jeremy Butler clanging the ball off the iron on the other end.SU was turned away multiple times in the last three minutes before an Army turnover on the last possession sent the game into overtime.As the game went into extras, Alberci could sense it. In his mind, the longer the game went — and the more he exhausted his play sheet — the better the Black Knights’ chances.‘I think we probably had a little advantage at that point,’ Alberici said. ‘… When it went into overtime, I think the pressure turned to Syracuse a little bit there because everybody would be patting us on the back if we lost to Syracuse in overtime.’Once the game was in overtime, the Black Knights took over. Galloway and the defense did all they could, though. The goalie made 10 of his 16 saves after halftime and the defense kept Army in check for nearly the full two overtimes.But the offense couldn’t put anything together. On its best chance in the first overtime, junior attack Stephen Keogh dropped a pass near the crease. The only time the Orange had possession in the offensive zone in the second overtime, junior midfielder Josh Amidon sent a shot wide and Army defender Bill Henderson beat SU attack Chris Daniello to the ball.On that ensuing possession, the Orange defense finally gave in. Lynch’s shot connected with the back of the net. SU’s title defense was over.The entire Orange defensive unit dropped to the Dome turf. Jamieson jogged into the locker room and hurled a ball into the wall out of frustration. Junior midfielder Joel White sat down on the crease.White, Miller and the Syracuse juniors had never lost a tournament game before. Thanks to Lynch, they finally know what it feels like.‘It’s one of those things where you feel like crying,’ Miller said. ‘But you just don’t have it in you.‘You just can’t believe it.’ [email protected] Comments Published on May 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more