With fans finally back in the Dome, SU men’s lacrosse defeats Vermont 17-13
With fans on hand, SU men's LAX beats Vermont
Coming out to a cheering crowd for the first time in a calendar year, Syracuse men’s lacrosse improved its record to 2-1 with a 17-13 victory over the Vermont Catamounts. Stephen Rehfuss scored twice and led the team with six assists. Owen Hiltz scored a game-high four goals for the Orange.
Postgame, head coach John Desko credited Rehfuss for his leadership throughout the game.
“He’s been seeing the field really well,” Desko said. “He’s a pretty complete player. When you have a player with really good vision, other guys work harder off the ball to get open.”
Vermont took the opening faceoff and controlled play for most of the first three minutes, but Syracuse’s defense stonewalled the Catamounts into a shot clock violation. One minute later, Tucker Dordevic scored his eighth goal of the season when he found himself alone on the right side.
For the first time all season, the Dome erupted with applause. A few hundred socially distanced spectators, mostly students clad in their SU finest, came out to support the No. 7 men’s lacrosse team.
Just 40 seconds later, fans were back on their feet as the Orange struck again, this time from Hiltz. He meandered toward the net slowly, picking his moment to cut as Rehfuss waited behind the goal for the perfect passing lane. Hiltz shook his defender and found the back of the net.
Despite jumping ahead to a 2-0 lead, Syracuse surrendered the next two goals of the game to the Catamounts, one immediately following an unnecessary roughness penalty and another as the defense allowed a free runner on net. Jamie Trimboli broke the tie 40 seconds later from 10 yards out of the goal.
Both teams scored in succession toward the end of the first as Rehfuss made the play of the game on an assist to Trimboli. Rehfuss circled from behind the net and saw Trimboli cutting past his defender. Rehfuss flipped the ball behind his back in stride with Trimbloi who promptly fired it low for his second of the game.
After the game, Rehfuss spoke about his performance against Vermont, which moved him into top-10 all-time for assists in program history.
“It’s definitely cool,” Rehfuss said. “Assists are also attributed to the guys who catch it and finish it. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with great guys.”
Vermont would score 33 seconds later, but Rehfuss would add a goal of his own on the next possession. The late flurry left Cuse up 5-3 after the first. Drake Porter’s four saves helped the Orange maintain their lead, and he picked up a fifth to start the second as Vermont got a free look from 15 yards out.
The two teams once again scored in quick succession as Brendan Curry tickled the twine as he cut through the Catamount defense. Just 13 seconds later, Vermont cut the lead back to two, but less than a minute later, Chase Scanlan took an assist from Hiltz and put the Orange up 7-4. Vermont would respond with a goal of their own, but without allowing a minute to pass, Lucas Quinn fired a 15-yard one-hopper past the keeper off another Rehfuss assist.
Just before a media timeout, Owen Seebold scored his first of the game, and 13 seconds after the timeout, Rehfuss scored on a Scanlan assist to widen the lead to 10-5 with just four minutes remaining in the half.
Not to be outdone, the Catamounts surged late in the half with two goals, bringing the score to 10-7 heading into the locker room. Liam Limoges secured a hat trick during the Vermont run.
After one half, Vermont outshot Cuse 25-19 and both teams had 17 shots on goal. Porter had 10 saves through two quarters, and his play was the difference for the Orange early.
The Orange won just seven of 19 faceoffs in the first half, but Danny Varello started the second half with a win at the X. Not long after, Scanlan added another goal as he flew past the left side of the cage.
Cuse came out firing in the third, quickly widening the margin to 14-8. Quinn and Hiltz added goals off Rehfuss assists, including a give-and-go between Hiltz and Rehfuss that found the former alone in front of the net. Hiltz added another to record a hat trick midway through the quarter.
Thomas McConvey completed a hat trick soon after when three SU defenders whiffed on a ground ball rolling to the net. McConvey scooped up the ball and fired it past Porter. In under two minutes, the lead would dwindle to 14-11 after two more goals.
With just two minutes remaining in the third, both sidelines had to be separated after Curry pushed a pair of Catamount players. SU went down two men for 30 seconds, but didn’t allow a score during the penalties.
To the delight of the crowd in the Dome, the game got chippy again after Curry fired a ball at the netminder well after the third quarter horn sounded. He was subsequently knocked off his cleats by a Vermont defender, and when Scanlan intervened, Scanlan and the defender were charged with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to start the fourth quarter.
Syracuse turned defense into offense to start the final quarter after a five-hole save by Porter to rob the Catamounts. On the other end, Rehfuss collected his sixth assist of the game on Dordevic’s ninth goal of the season to extend the lead 15-11.
Vermont would beat Porter from 15 yards on a shot that rang off the crossbar and in, but Scanlan scored a hat trick on an assist from Brett Kennedy to retake a four-goal lead with just over seven minutes remaining.
Vermont kept the game close late with another tally, but with a little over 90 seconds remaining, Hiltz powered his way through two defenders 20 yards from the goal and ran near the crease to beat the goaltender for his fourth of the game.
The Orange would bleed out the remainder of the clock to win 17-13 in front of the Syracuse faithful. Porter finished the game with 20 saves and a .606 save percentage. Rehfuss led all scorers with eight points. Despite a career-high in saves on Saturday, Porter credited the team around him for his performance.
“We were playing to give up the shots I wanted,” Porter said. “All the credit goes to them. Twenty saves is just as much them as it is me.”
The Orange won just 10 of 34 faceoffs, but their bad luck at the X didn’t slow their victory. After the game, Desko commended Vermont faceoff specialist Tommy Burke.
“It was a very competitive game today,” Desko said. “The faceoffs gave them an advantage, but fortunately we were pretty efficient with 17 goals on 32 shots. I credit their faceoff man. He did a really great job today. I told coach Feifs (Burke) could have a steak on me this afternoon.”
With the win, the Orange improved to 2-1 on the season and will look to continue their winning ways against No. 17 Stony Brook on Friday, March 12, in the Dome.