Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/25/13
From Press Releases
Syracuse (15-3) vs. Denver (14-4)
Today, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Philadelphia, Pa. – Lincoln Financial Field
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Top-seeded Syracuse and No. 4 Denver meet today at Lincoln Financial Field in the national semifinals at 5 p.m. The game marks the first NCAA postseason meeting between the two schools.
Syracuse advanced to the semifinal round for the 27th time in school history with a 7-6 come-from-behind victory versus Yale in the quarterfinals. Denver marched on with a 12-11 triumph over No. 5 seed North Carolina. The other national semifinal features Duke versus Cornell at 2:30 p.m.
This is just the fourth meeting between the Orange and Pioneers. The Orange prevailed in the first matchup, 13-10, at the 2002 Pioneer Face-Off Classic in Denver, and beat the Pioneers, 15-9 and 13-7, respectively, in the 2010 and 2011 season openers for both teams.
THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS
The matchup between Syracuse and Denver features the two winningest active coaches in Division I lacrosse by percentage. Orange mentor John Desko is first on that list with a .765 winning percentage (186-57). Denver’s Bill Tierney is second at .742 (322-112).
In addition to regular-season success, both men have excelled in the postseason. Desko owns the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage (min. 10 games) at .789 (30-8). Tierney is fifth (.700, 35-15). Tierney ranks second in career NCAA postseason wins (35) and Desko is fourth with 30. The pair has combined to win 11 national championships with Tierney tying SU legend Roy Simmons Jr. atop the list with six. Desko is third with five NCAA titles. All of Tierney’s championships came while he was the head coach at Princeton.
In 18 head-to-head matchups, Desko owns a 13-5 advantage against Tierney, including a 4-1 record in NCAA postseason meetings. The last time the two legends matched wits was in the 2011 season opener. Desko’s Orange defeated Tierney’s Pioneers in that one, 13-7.
SU and Denver have combined to play 17 one-goal games this season. Half of the Orange’s 18 contests have been decided by a single tally, including its 7-6 NCAA quarterfinal win versus Yale. The Pioneers have been involved in eight one-goal contests. Denver also advanced to the national semifinals by a single goal, beating North Carolina, 12-11, in the quarterfinal round.
DENVER IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Denver is in the middle of its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, and its fourth-consecutive trip to the postseason during Bill Tierney’s tenure. The Crimson and Gold are 5-3 in the NCAA Tournament under Tierney, and 5-5 overall. After going winless in its first three appearances, the Pioneers reached the Final Four in 2011 and the Quarterfinals a year ago.
The Crimson and Gold are 0-3 all-time against Syracuse, a series that dates back to 2002. This will be the first meeting between the two teams on a neutral site. In each of the last two meetings, both under Tierney, Syracuse was ranked in the top-two in the country. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse was No. 2 in both polls, and received the top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange enters this Saturday’s game ranked No. 2/2 in the nation and has won 10 of its last 11 games. Syracuse erased a 4-0 deficit to defeat Bryant by a count of 12-7 in the NCAA First Round, before ending its Quarterfinal game on a 3-0 run in the final 3:04 to top Yale 7-6 on Saturday. The Orange boasts the 13th-ranked scoring offense in the country, averaging 11.72 goals per game, and the 12th-ranked scoring defense in the game, allowing only 8.61 goals per game. JoJo Marasco leads the Orange with 58 points on 20 goals and 38 assists. Luke Cometti and Derek Maltz found the back of the net 30 times apiece to lead the team in 2013.
Senior Eric Law leads the Pioneers with 75 points off 40 goals and 35 assists, while sophomore Wesley Berg leads the squad with 56 goals to sit in second with 72 points (16 assists). Senior Cameron Flint is third on the team with 50 points off 36 goals and 14 assists. Face-off specialist Chase Carraro leads the Pioneers with a 57.8 winning percentage, having won 155-of-268 face-offs. Carraro also leads the Pioneers with 71 ground balls. Junior Jamie Faus leads the Pioneers between the pipes with a .567 save percentage and a 9.07 goals-against average; however, sophomore Ryan LaPlante is close behind with a .557 save percentage and a team best 10.14 goals-against average. As a team, Denver is averaging 9.57 goals per game off 36.9 shots per game.
HOT AT THE RIGHT TIME
Sophomore Wesley Berg has scored 12 goals in Denver’s two NCAA Tournament games, the most this year and the 13th-most in a single NCAA Tournament in history. With potentially two games still left to play, Berg is just five goals shy of Loyola’s Eric Lusby (2012) for the NCAA record. Berg has 17 NCAA Tournament goals in his two-year career.
SU CAN TIE SEASON WINS RECORD
With one more victory, the 2013 Orange will tie the school record for wins (16). Syracuse is currently 15-3 heading into its NCAA semifinal matchup with Denver. The Orange has won 16 games three times previously, including the 2008 and 2009 national championship seasons. SU also recorded 16 wins in 1922.
The Denver Pioneers erased a six-goal deficit against North Carolina in the NCAA quarterfinals to advance to the NCAA Final Four for the second time in three seasons. Just like the Orange, the Pioneers’ game-winning goal came with 13 seconds left in regulation. This is Denver’s sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament and its fourth straight under head coach Bill Tierney.
Eric Law notched the game-winner against UNC, which was his 40th goal of the season. Law ranks 11th in the NCAA in points per game (4.17) and 19th in assists per game (1.94). Law leads the Denver attack with 75 points (40 goals, 35 assists). His linemate, Wes Berg, is fourth in the nation in goals per game (3.11), while his 56 goals are second nationally to Steve Mock’s (Cornell) 59. Midfielder Cameron Flint is Denver’s third 50-point scorer. Flint has produced 36 goals and 14 assists this season.
On defense, Kyler Hercher has caused a team-high 14 caused turnovers. Chase Carraro is the top faceoff specialist for the Pioneers, winning 57 percent of his draws, which is good for 14th in the country.
Goaltenders Ryan LaPlante and Jamie Faus have shared time in the cage. LaPlante has started in 17 contests for the Pioneers and has a save percentage of .557 and a goals-against average of 10.14 in nearly 604 minutes played. Faus has appeared in 14 games with one start. Faus has a .567 save percentage and a 9.07 goals-against average. LaPlante got the starting nod versus UNC in the quarterfinals, but let in six goals in less than 10 minutes. Faus replaced him and gave up five goals the rest of the way.
MARASCO TRYING FOR RARE FEAT
Since 1980 only two true midfielders have led the Orange in scoring – Gary Gait (1988, 1990) and Roy Colsey (1994). Senior JoJo Marasco is bidding to become the third. Marasco sits atop the SU scoring chart with 58 points (20 goals, 38 assists).
NOTE: Greg Tarbell led SU in points in 1981 playing both midfield and attack. Brian Crockett was the team’s scoring champ in 2005. Crockett spent most the year on attack before shifting to the midfield late in the season.
UP NEXT …
The winner of the Syracuse-Denver matchup will face either Cornell or Duke for the national championship at 1 p.m. on Memorial Day.