The motto for the Syracuse Orange lacrosse team this season is "head, heart, hustle." The Orange showed none of those three H's in today's 10-8 loss to Georgetown. A spotlight was shined on the team's seniors before the game, honoring the last time they took the field in the Carrier Dome. But that spotlight went out as soon as the first quarter began.
After the game, head coach John Desko walked to the microphone to deliver his postgame address to the media alongside freshman Bobby Wardwell and no one else. Typically, three players will come talk to the press but you could tell by the expression on both Desko's and Wardwell's faces that no one wanted to deal with reporters after this loss. The freshman goalkeeper sat alone, in front of the cameras, his eyes to the floor.
"It's definitely not the time of year when you want to see the number of turnovers we had in a game," Desko said. "Especially one that's so important to us today."
The Orange turned the ball over 22 times. That's more than in the last two games combined. There were a lot of sloppy passes that flew out of bounds. Syracuse also failed to clear five times. One failed clear was a pass from an Orange defenseman to a Georgetown player right in front of the net. It resulted in an easy Hoya goal.
Desko also mentioned the importance of the game and what a win would have meant to his team. With a victory today, the Orange would have clinched a berth in the Big East tournament and would have most likely booked a trip to the NCAA tournament. Now, the future of the Orange relies on a trip to South Bend, Indiana next week to take on No. 6 Notre Dame. Syracuse has only beaten one ranked team this season and that was No. 11 Princeton.
"I think we gotta go out and win a game and play well so that we can get another good win under our belt and get into the Big East tournament to play a couple games there," Desko said about next week's game. "So we just have to take care of business ourself right now, there's no other way around it."
Wardwell finished the day with seven saves and was pulled from the game with 3:05 left. Dominic Lamolinara took over after Wardwell let in a couple goals in the fourth quarter when the Orange needed him to stand tall.
"I think that we just need to work on communication a little bit more as a team, as a team defense," Wardwell said. "I think we struggled a little bit with that today."
But the defense wasn't the only unit struggling. The Orange went down three at the end of the third and came out firing in the fourth quarter, bringing the game within two goals. But Syracuse just couldn't win a face-off. In the fourth quarter, the Orange went just 1-for-8 at the X, which was a huge factor in the loss. More possessions would have given Syracuse a chance to come back and win the game. But when you lose that many face-offs, that becomes a difficult task.
Another convincing reason for the Orange loss was the guy in the net opposite of Wardwell. Georgetown goalkeeper Matt Winter stood strong in net for the Hoyas, especially when the team needed him to. Winter has been on the Hoya squad for four years and didn't earn the starting position until this season.
"This was probably one of his finest, if not his best effort throughout the whole game, he played the best four quarters he ever has," said Georgetown head coach Dave Urick. "He's had good halves before but I think this was his best complete game."
With a couple minutes left in the game, the Orange had pulled within two. Tommy Palasek had a chance to bring Syracuse closer but was stoned cold at point-blank range by Winter, who won Georgetown the game.
Coach Desko realizes the importance of this next game, but he is confident that his players are ready for the pressure, even after a loss today.
"I think the guys will respond very well," he said. "We haven't had any let downs in practice, they've come every week."