Siena junior goalie Brent Herbst was unceremoniously deposited on his backside three times while roaming outside the cage to prevent Syracuse scoring opportunities.
But those three football-like hits didn’t hurt as much as the five goals he gave up in the final quarter, when defending national champion Syracuse finally pulled away to record an 11-4 victory in the opening round of the NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament Sunday before a crowd of 3,122 at the Carrier Dome.
It was the first NCAA tournament appearance for the upstart Saints, who finished 12-6. Syracuse, a 10-time national champion ranked No. 1 in the nation by the two top polls and seeded second overall, improved to 13-2.
Herbst was brilliant for the first three quarters, when he allowed the powerful Orange only six goals. But eventually, the offensive pressure Syracuse mounted paid off, and the Orange cruised to victory.
Cody Jamieson, making his first start after coming back from an injury, scored three goals, and Stephen Keogh also scored three for the Orange. Kenny Mazzone, Jordan Loftus, Bryan Neufeld and Chris Zarins scored for the Saints.
“I’m certainly excited about the way our guys came out of the locker room, said Siena head coach Brian Brecht. “It was 4-0 at the half, and we played excellent defensively. Our goalie was excellent all day. It was still 6-2 in the fourth quarter, but you’ve got to give Syracuse a lot of credit. They are a heckuva of a team. I thought we would have some success if we executed all the opportunities we had, but we didn’t.”
Herbst said the Saints followed their game plan on the defensive end.
“Our kind of thinking was to stay alive and hang close until the fourth quarter, and then maybe we would have a chance,” he said. “But they kind of pulled away in the fourth quarter. They took advantage of any mess-ups we made.”
Herbst likes to move out of the crease to help clear the ball, but he suffered for it, especially when Kenny Nims hit him hard, and was penalized midway through the game.
“They were pressing us hard on the ride, and Nims came up and cross-checked me in the throat. It took me by surprise, but we got a man-up situation out of it,” Herbst said.
Syracuse head coach John Desko had words of praise for the Saints.
“I really felt the game was a lot closer than the score,” he said. “Siena certainly did a good job on the faceoffs and controlling the tempo. Their goalie came up big for them. We came out in the second half and played some good defense. We had too many turnovers, but we made some adjustments.”
Syracuse goalie John Galloway said he was charged up, playing against one of the top goalies in the nation in Herbst.
“I was fired up a little bit,” Galloway said. “He’s a great goalie and he played well for them, but you always get up when you play another great goalie, because you want to help your team.
“Siena is a good team. Everyone says they’re not that good because they come from the MAAC, but they moved the ball well, and they have excellent defense.”
Jamieson scored on a wrap-around goal midway through the first quarter, and Keough added a short-handed goal a minute later to give Syracuse a 2-0 lead after the first quarter.
Joel White and Keough added goals in the second period to give the Orange a 4-0 halftime lead.
Syracuse went ahead, 5-0, with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter before the Saints finally got on the board with a man-up goal from Mazzone.
Jamieson scored on a spinning shot just outside of the crease with 2:05 left in the period, and then Loftus got Siena’s second goal to pull the Saints within 6-2.
But the fourth quarter belonged to Syracuse, especially after a brief altercation with 13:11 left in the period. The Orange scored three straight goals and five of the next six to pull away.
“This experience will help not only the players in our locker room now, but also the players we recruit,” said Brecht.
Siena 0 0 2 2 — 4
Syracuse 2 2 2 5 — 11
Siena scoring: Kenny Mazzone 1-2, Jordan Loftus 1-1, Bryan Neufeld 1-0, Chris Zarins 1-0, Bryan Hale 0-1. Syracuse scoring: Cody Jamieson 3-1, Stephen Keough 3-0, Kenny Nims 1-4, Josh Amidson 1-1, Dan Hardy 1-0, Greg Nieroski 1-0, Joel White 1-0, Tim Desko 0-1, Jeff Gilbdert 0-1, Jovan Miller 0-1.
Goalies: Siena, Brent Herbst, 11 saves; Syracuse, John Galloway, 13 saves.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports