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BIG EAST tourney: Walters (Haverford School), Syracuse rout Villanova, 15-6, to reach finals vs. St. John’s

Thursday, 3rd May 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Michael Sorenson, Posted 5/3/12

Freshman Matt Walters (Haverford School) made a triumphant homecoming tonight by doubling his season’s scoring with two goals to help Syracuse whip host Villanova, 15-6, in the semifinals of the inaugural BIG EAST men’s lacrosse championships.

Haverford School grad Matt Walters had two goals for Syracuse in Thursday night's rout of Villanova in the BIG EAST semifinals

The third-seeded Orange (8-7) will meet fourth-seeded St. John’s – an 8-7 upset winner over No. 1 seed Notre Dame at noon on Saturday. Villanova falls to 8-7 and probably is done for the season.

Bobby Eilers had a career-high four goals to pace Syracuse. Tommy Palasek also contributed four points with a goal and three assists.

“We talked about yesterday (Wednesday) not being our last practice,” said Eilers. “I really took that to heart, and the whole team took that to heart.”

Walters, who helped lead Haverford School to an undefeated season last year, had two man-up goals in the contest.

“We were having some problems with our man-up, so we just changed things up a bit, and Matt’s reaping the rewards,” said Syracuse coach John Desko. “Matt’s got one of the hardest shots on this team as a freshman. He’s got a lot of velocity.”

For Villanova, Jack Rice scored twice while Kevin Cunningham and Nick Doherty each had a goal and an assist. Villanova, however, was held scoreless by the Syracuse defense, anchored by freshman goaltender Bobby Wardwell (12 saves), for the last 16 minutes of the contest.

“They did a great job tonight, they outplayed us in every facet of the game,” said Wildcats coach Mike Corrado. “That was the best 60 minutes of lacrosse they played all year.”

This year’s Syracuse team struggled throughout the season in the second half. The Orange responded this time when they needed it most, outscoring Villanova 8-2 in the final two quarters.

Syracuse took charge in a number of key areas. Orange face-off man Ricky Buhr was able to outdraw Thomas Croonquist, one of the top FOGOs in the country, by a margin of 13 to 12. Syracuse also almost carried a 2-to-1 advantage in ground balls in the game, picking up 41 to Villanova’s 22.

“We’ve been reminded all week and all year that we’ve been losing the ground ball battle, and that’s not something Syracuse lacrosse likes to do,” said Eilers. “That’s something we wanted to win, so we’re happy to go out there and double them up.”

Syracuse led, 6-4, at halftime, as Walters scored off a Tommy Palasek feed with 10 seconds left in the second period. The Orange then totally dominated the second half. Walters tallied his second goal midway through the third period off another assist by Palasek.

Syracuse – 2-4-4-5 – 15
Villanova – 1-3-2-0 – 6

Bobby Eilers – 4g
Tommy Palasek – 1g, 3a
Tim Desko – 1g, 2a
Derek Maltz – 1g, 2a
Matt Walters – 2g
Scott Loy – 2g
Hakeem Lecky – 2g
Billy Ward – 2a
Luke Cometti – 1g
Matt Pratt – 1g
Matt Harris – 1a
JoJo Marasco – 1a

Bobby Wardwell – 12 sv

Kevin Cunningham – 1g, 1a
Nick Doherty – 1g, 1a
Jack Rice – 2g
Will Casertano – 1g
Kevin O’Neil – 1g
C.J. Small – 1a
Max Hart – 1a
Eric Gartner – 1a

Dan Gutierrez – 8 sv

Syracuse – 36
Villanova – 30

Ground Balls
Syracuse – 41
Villanova – 22
Syracuse – 13
Villanova – 12

Syracuse – 19-20
Villanova – 12-12

Syracuse – 2-4
Villanova – 1-5

Syracuse – 11
Villanova – 11

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