VILLANOVA, Pa. – No. 4 Syracuse (5-2, 2-1 BIG EAST) had its five-game winning streak stopped, losing 11-10 to Villanova (2-5, 1-0 BIG EAST) Saturday, March 23 at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats scored twice in the span of seven seconds with less than three minutes to play to pick up their first conference win of the season.
Faceoffs were the difference as Villanova’s Thomas Croonquist won 22 of the game’s 24 draws (.916), including all 13 in the second half. Croonquist’s success led to a 44-21 Villanova advantage in shots and a 32-19 margin in ground balls.
Despite the statistical disparity, the Orange didn’t trail until the end and led by as many as three twice (5-2 and 8-5). However, down the stretch Syracuse couldn’t overcome the extra possessions Croonquist generated.
Senior Luke Cometti (Syracuse, N.Y.), junior Derek Maltz (Ashburn, Va.), sophomore Kevin Rice (Skaneateles, N.Y.) and junior Billy Ward (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) led the Orange with two goals each. Rice added an assist to tie senior JoJo Marasco (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) for team-high scoring honors. Marasco finished with one goal and two assists.
Max Hart had four points (one goal, three assists) to pace the Wildcats. John Kluh contributed three goals and Nick Doherty (two goals, one assist), Kevin O’Neil (one goal, two assists) and Tim Mulrenan (two goals, one assist) all finished with three points for Villanova.
Croonquist added 11 ground balls to go with his career-high 22 faceoff wins.
The Orange led 2-1 in the first quarter on goals by Cometti and Maltz in tight before Villanova tied the score on a goal by O’Neil with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
In second period, the Orange netted three straight goals to go up 5-2. Maltz notched his second of the game when he picked up a rebound and threw it past Villanova goalie Reed Carlson with 7:17 left in the half. Ward followed by collecting a loose ball and firing low past Carlson after senior Matt Pratt (Binghamton, N.Y.) lost possession on a fastbreak. Marasco capped the run with 2:18 left in the half when he charged down the alley found the cage unassisted.
Two late goals by the Wildcats, one by Jack Rice with 1:18 left and one by Kluh with 17 seconds remaining in the half, trimmed the Orange lead to 5-4 at the break.
Syracuse tallied three of the first four goals of the second half to push the lead back to three (8-5), but again the Wildcats rallied. Villanova closed the third quarter on a 3-1 run, including a Dougherty goal with four seconds left, to close the gap to 9-8.
Dougherty struck again early in the fourth quarter, tallying an extra-man goal to even the score at 9-all. SU redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue (Camillus, N.Y.) notched his only goal of the night to give the visitors a 10-9 advantage about five minutes later.
That’s how the scored remained until Rice took a pass from Doherty and scored with 2:51 to play to tie the game. Croonquist then won the ensuing the faceoff and passed to Mulrenan who tallied seven seconds after Rice to give the Wildcats their only lead at 11-10.
Syracuse had one final chance to tie it with less than a minute to play, but Cometti couldn’t handle a pass from Marasco and the ball went back to the Wildcats who were able to run out the clock.
Orange junior Dominic Lamolinara (Arnold, Md.) received his second straight starting nod and totaled a career-best 12 saves.
Carlson recorded five saves for the Wildcats. His only stop of the fourth quarter was a big one as he made a point-blank save on Maltz with 3:46 remaining to keep it a one-goal game.
The Orange returns home on Friday, March 29 to host Canisius in the Carrier Dome. Faceoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.
Game Notes: The loss was the Orange’s first at Villanova Stadium … The Orange is now 4-1 there (3-1 against Villanova and 1-0 versus St. John’s) … Senior defenseman Brian Megill (Clark, N.J.) picked up five ground balls, the 10th time in his career he’s achieved that feat … Syracuse tied its season high with 10 caused turnovers.