Syracuse men’s lacrosse drops early lead, home opener to Army

SU lacrosse drops lead, home opener to Army

Fourth-ranked Orange fall flat in opening test, allow Cadets to go on a 17-5 run.
Published: February 21, 2021
#23 Tucker Dordevic of Syracuse during game between Syracuse and Army at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse N.Y. Feb 21, 2021. Dennis Nett |
#23 Tucker Dordevic of Syracuse during game between Syracuse and Army at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse N.Y. Feb 21, 2021. Dennis Nett |

Syracuse men’s lacrosse entered the season ranked fourth in the nation after a first place ranking last season, but the Orange struggled in the opener and fell to No. 12 Army 18-11. Four Cadets scored hat tricks against SU in the contest, but Tucker Dordevic added four goals and an assist to lead Cuse.

Just 26 seconds into the season, Syracuse struck first on a rising shot from Chase Scanlan. FOGO redshirt junior Jakob Phaup won the opening faceoff, advanced the ball downfield and the play quickly found Scanlan in front of the net. Phaup finished the game with 18 wins on 29 faceoffs. Scanlan, SU’s leading goal scorer from a season ago started the barrage on Army goalie Wyatt Schupler.

The Cadets soon responded, and Aidan Byrnes scored his fourth goal of the season for Army on a 15-yard shot past SU goalie Drake Porter. Early in the game, both sidelines carried enough energy to fill the empty Dome. Chants and cheers echoed as teammates became fans, and the SU sideline helped spur an avalanche by the midfield.

After surrendering the equalizer, Dordevic scored a natural hat trick to propel the Orange ahead. His strong play started with a strike with eight minutes remaining from 15 yards out. He blasted a rocket past the goalie as he was slashed across the face by a Cadet stick.

With under five remaining in the first, Dordevic found his second of the game as he shook his defenseman and blew a shot over the left shoulder of the goalie. Less than 90 seconds later, he capped off the hat trick with a low shot ripped into the twine.

In addition to Dordevic’s dominance, fellow midfielders Jacob Buttermore and Jamie Trimboli found the back of the net all within 1:06 of the hat trick. With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Orange completed a 5-0 run to take a 6-1 lead.

Following Trimboli’s goal, SU’s Griffin Cook took a one-minute illegal cross penalty, and despite not scoring a man-up, the Army goal was a direct result of the penalty as the SU defender was released but out of the play for the goal. Brendan Nichtern scored from just outside the crease on a high fake and then shuffled the ball low past Porter with less than a minute remaining in the frame.

Army seized momentum following the Nichtern goal and dominated possession in the second quarter. SU’s five goal run was answered by a 4-0 run by the Cadets. Schupler was dominant for Army after a shaky start and turned aside multiple good looks by the Orange. He finished the first half with four saves that were crucial in the Army comeback.

Three Cadets midfielders scored in quick succession for Army as they surged back in the game. The Army spacing and passing started to break down the SU defense.

Dordevic finally ended the Army run with his fourth tally of the game 12 seconds into a Cadet penalty. Stephen Rehfuss assisted on the play as Dordevic sniped a shot high from the right side. With less than four minutes left in the period, Syracuse appeared to be back in control 7-5, but Army would not be denied. In the postgame press conference, Dordevic spoke about squandering an early lead.

“We need to keep our foot on their throat – keep attacking,” Dordevic said.

The first half ended on another run by the Cadets as they ran easily past the SU defense. SSDM Peter Dearth took a one-minute unnecessary roughness penalty, and with 3:01 remaining, Army started their onslaught. Nichtern scored 16 seconds into the penalty and two goals followed, including one with just 14 seconds remaining in the half.

A game that felt firmly at hand for the Orange was quickly slipping away. Coming into the second half, Army scored once more before Dordevic assisted on Rehfuss’s first goal of the season as he cut past the defensemen and nearly stepped into the crease as he found the back of the net.

As the clock wound under 10 minutes in the third, Army regained its two-goal lead 10-8 on another open look by a Cadet midfielder. The Cuse defense failed to adjust and could no longer match the intensity of the Cadets on the sideline or on the field. Less than 90 seconds later, Army widened the lead again with the momentum further in their favor.

Syracuse was as flat in the third quarter as they were in the second, and Army pummeled the defense with five goals. The Orange did no favors for Porter as wide open looks and point-blank shots rained past him. Army stormed ahead 13-8 on a beautiful behind-the-back flip from the right side of the crease found the top left corner. After the game, head coach John Desko commented his goalie’s performance.

“Those are the kinds of shots a goalie can’t save,” Desko said. “He’s a goalie that doesn’t really dwell on the past. He’ll adjust. … It doesn’t help our goalie at all when they’re shooting from three or four yards.”

With less than a second remaining in the third, Army collided with Porter on a save and gave Cuse a man-advantage heading into the fourth. Owen Hiltz capitalized on an assist from Scanlan as he cut to the left side of the crease and took a feed from behind the net.

Army went back up five on Nichtern’s third goal of the game, but Brendan Curry added his first of the season to cut the lead to 14-10. From 15 yards out on the left hash, he fired a shot into the twine that gave the offense some life, but with the defense still flat, a third Cadet secured a hat trick to widen the lead with just under 10 minutes to play.

Rehfuss found himself and Scanlan alone with a single defender protecting the Cadet net and bounced home a shot after faking a pass. Syracuse was once again down five, 16-11, but with seven minutes remaining, the Cadets were able to suppress a comeback.

In acrobatic fashion, Bobby Abshire scored his fourth highlight-reel goal of the game as he soared parallel to the field for a diving sidearm shot. The ball movement and pace overwhelmed an SU defense that looked lost for most of the game, and the Orange fell 18-11 to open the season.

Aside from the flurry of goals at the end of the first quarter, the Syracuse offense was stymied time and time again by strong play from the Cadet’s defense and Schupler in net. He finished with 12 saves to Porter’s 13 but only surrendered five in the final three quarters.

Syracuse secured 33 ground balls to Army’s 26, but the Orange were outshot 31-23. Army found open teammates in scoring positions all afternoon and racked up 11 assists to five by SU.

Syracuse will be back in action on Sunday, Feb. 27, to face No. 3 Virginia, the team that defeated Army 14-9 in their first game. The two teams will face-off at 6 p.m. in the Dome as the Orange continue a five-game home stretch to open the season.