Syracuse beats defending champ Johns Hopkins in title game


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Like so many lacrosse players before
him, Mike Leveille went to Syracuse for the chance to win a title.

And, like so many of his predecessors, he had to beat Johns
Hopkins to do it.

Syracuse beat Hopkins 13-10 in the NCAA final on Monday,
dethroning the defending national champions and becoming the first
school to win its 10th men's lacrosse title. The Orange improved to
3-2 in championship games against Johns Hopkins.

"When you get recruited at Syracuse, you're going there to win
a national championship," said Leveille, who was voted the NCAA
tournament's most outstanding player. "It's certainly been an
up-and-down road for the seniors. But we hung in there. This is the
best ending possible."

It was Syracuse's fourth championship this decade but first
since 2004. Last year, when three players were suspended for
off-field behavior, the Orange finished 3-8 and missed the NCAA
tournament for the first time since 1982.

The '83 Syracuse team, which was honored at halftime on the 25th
anniversary of its title, is the only other team to win the
lacrosse championship a year after missing the tournament entirely.

"There were a lot of people doubting us as a team," Syracuse
midfielder Dan Hardy, who scored three goals, said while wearing a
swatch cut from the net hanging from his championship hat.

Freshman John Galloway stopped seven shots for the Orange.
Brendan Loftus and Kenny Nims had two goals apiece and Leveille,
who had five goals in the semifinal win over Virginia, had a goal
and two assists.

Loftus and Leveille scored 10 seconds apart midway through the
fourth quarter as Syracuse scored four straight goals to turn a 9-8
edge into a 13-8 cushion.

Paul Rabil, who was one off the title game record with a
career-high six goals, scored twice to cut the deficit to 13-10,
but the Blue Jays could get no closer. Michael Gvozden stopped 20
shots, 14 of them in the first half to keep it a one-goal game at

"Like I told them in the locker room," Hopkins coach Dave
Pietramala said, "if this is the worst thing that happens to them,
then they are pretty fortunate. The hardest thing for me is that I
don't get to coach that team, that group of seniors again. It's the
hardest day for any coach, whether you win or lose, because
ultimately you lose those guys."

The two winningest programs in college lacrosse, Syracuse and
Hopkins entered the game with nine titles apiece (including
Syracuse's 1990 championship, which was vacated for an ineligible
player). Since 1983, only one class has graduated from Syracuse
without winning it all.

"That was the team that got Syracuse over the hump," said
coach John Desko, whose four titles put him two behind predecessor
Roy Simmons Jr. and Princeton's Bill Tierney. "Coach Simmons and I
have been able to carry that on."

The attendance of 48,970 was the largest to see an NCAA
championship outdoors in any sport, though the BCS football
championship game isn't an NCAA event. Syracuse fans dominated
crowd, with entire sections with orange filling the lower bowl of
the stadium built for the New England Patriots.

They saw their team fall behind 5-3 before scoring three
straight goals, the first by Nims while a man down due to an
offsides penalty. Patrick Perritt made it 5-5 and Hardy gave the
Orange a 6-5 lead with 1:34 left in the half.

Syracuse took a 9-7 lead that was trimmed to one goal when
Stephen Peyser drew a double-team before flipping the ball back to
Rabil, who scored with just more than four minutes left in the
third quarter.

But Hardy completed his hat trick just 28 seconds later to make
it 10-8 after three quarters. Nims made it 11-8 with 12:32 to play
and then Loftus and Leveille put it out of reach.