Syracuse's vaunted lacrosse offense, averaging 15 goals per game this season, scored eight straight goals in less than nine minutes late in today's NCAA championship game against Johns Hopkins and the Orange won, 17-16, before 17,000 at Rutgers Stadium.
With 17:40 left, Hopkins led, 13-7, and seemed well on its way to its fifth title since the tournament's inception in 1971. Hopkins goalie Brian Holman had dominated the first half with 16 saves. But Tim Nelson, Syracuse's sophomore attackman, and teammate Brad Kotz owned the second, Nelson with a goal and five assists and Kotz with four goals (five for the game) in leading the Orangemen to their first national championship. Hopkins, in its seventh straight final, lost its third in a row.
"The worst thing that could happen to a team happened to Hopkins," Syracuse Coach Roy Simmons Jr. said. "They got a 12-5 lead, their intensity diluted and they began to relax. They couldn't see our fire was still there."
From 13-7, Kotz and Art Lux scored unassisted goals, making the score 13-9 after three quarters. Just 21 seconds into the final quarter, Nelson fed Kotz for a goal in front; 34 seconds later, Dave Desko beat Holman and Hopkins Coach Henry Ciccarone Sr. called time.
Syracuse (14-1) kept the pressure on, however, and Kotz scored from in front and Tom Korrie on a pass from Nelson to tie the game at 13 with 11:44 left.
Syracuse's seventh straight score, on a feed from Lux to Kotz, gave the Orange its first lead, 14-13, with 10:42 remaining. Barely a minute later, Nelson scored.
Henry Ciccarone Jr. brought the Blue Jays within 15-14 with 9:04 to play, but then both Peter Scott and Rich Glancy hit the post. Finally, after Syracuse was penalized for offside, Ciccarone Jr. found Bill Cantelli open for the tying goal with 2:55 to go.
Nineteen seconds later, Kotz drove his fourth goal of the half past Holman. And, with 1:09 remaining, Nelson made his sixth assist of the day on Randy Lundblad's goal that increased Syracuse's lead to 17-15.
Hopkins' Del Dressel scored with 50 seconds left, but the Blue Jays (12-2) didn't get off another shot.
"We relaxed a little on defense when it was 12-5," said Coach Ciccarone. "We didn't get back in the hole as much as we should have. We allowed unsettled situations and they took advantage of every one. I don't remember ever giving up a seven-goal lead before. We won (all season) with defense."
Simmons' father Roy Sr., 83, a coach at Syracuse for 35 years, and his son, Roy III, an Orange assistant, were on the sidelines today. Simmons got a measure of satisfaction for 1957, when he played for a 10-0 Syracuse team that saw Hopkins named champion.