No. 6 Syracuse celebrates Paul Gait with a close game and win

No. 6 Syracuse celebrates Gait with a close game

The Orange topped No. 4 Virginia 18-17 as Gait’s jersey joined his brother’s in the rafters.

Alternative Text
Jack Henry
SU Lacrosse legend and three-time National Champion Paul Gait celebrates with family during his jersey retirement ceremony on Saturday, April 20.

There was a lot on the line for No. 6 Syracuse men’s lacrosse, including a battle against No. 4 Virginia and the jersey retirement of Orange legend Paul Gait.

The Orange certainly delivered, in a fashion that won’t be forgotten. 

Syracuse pulled out an 18-17 victory over the Cavaliers in a nailbiter.

“They made the plays when they had to”, head coach Gary Gait said after his team pulled out a hard-fought victory against a top-five opponent. “We’re looking forward to moving onto the ACC Tournament.”

Alternative Text
Jack Henry
Fans cheer after a goal by attacker Christian Mulé, SU’s goal leader of the night, as he celebrates with teammates at Saturday’s game.

This game was built on runs. Syracuse had 6-0, 4-0 and 4-0 runs, while Virginia had runs of 4-1, 3-0 and 7-1 throughout the contest. 

The final 7:30 minutes were capped off by one of the Syracuse 4-0 runs, including the tying and winning goals within the final two minutes. 

Redshirt junior attack Owen Hiltz tallied eight points, including a hat trick that kept Virginia on its toes all day. 

The game was high paced with tons of momentum, and stayed that way up until Virginia held a one goal lead with 1:44 remaining. 

There was a scrum for the ball in front of the net, which was picked up by Syracuse sophomore defense Billy Dwan, who fired behind his head for a highlight goal. 

“I kind of just have a feeling of where the goal is on the field”, Dwan said. “Trying to make the goalie make the save instead of me missing it.”

With the game stayed at 17-17, the Cavaliers won the draw.

“I had a chance to call timeout in a tie game,” Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany said about his late game management. “No, we’re going to let this run.”

Alternative Text
Jack Henry
Fans erupt after SU takes a late lead with seconds remaining against Virginia, going on to beat them for the first time since 2021.

The ‘Hoos were unable to score on the possession, which allowed fifth-year midfield Sam English to net the eventual game winning goal. 

“It feels good,” English said. “Being able to put the ball in the net is an unbelievable feeling.”

Following that play, Virginia had opportunities to force overtime, but their final shot was denied by graduate goalie Will Mark. 

One of the few players not involved in the scoring was phenom sophomore attack Joey Spallina, who had no points for the first time this season. 

Even though the Cavaliers were unable to pick up the victory, Connor Shellenberg got four goals and nine total points. 

Alternative Text
Jack Henry
Long Stick Midfileder Saam Olexo battles for the ball against a Virginia defender.

This game marked another chapter in the historic clashes these two programs have, and nobody knows it better than coach Tiffany, a central New York native.

“As a tremendous benefactor of the game of lacrosse, I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of the Virginia-Syracuse rivalry,” he said.

The game wasn’t the only excitement that came from today’s top-ten matchup, as Paul Gait had his jersey number retired at halftime. 

Both Gait brothers are two of the premier players in college lacrosse history, and now their numbers hang in the rafters of the JMA Wireless Dome together. 

“It was a great day for Syracuse Lacrosse honoring number 19,” coach Gait said. “(The atmosphere) reminds me of Syracuse in the old days.”

The season finale win gets the Orange to an 11-4 record on the season, and propels them into the ACC tournament. 

They will play on May 3, and if victorious, will play for the title on May 5. Opening draw and opponent are yet to be determined.