Syracuse wins inaugural Big East title
Orange score first eight goals, down St. John's in final
VILLANOVA, Pa. -- No. 3 seed Syracuse defeated No. 4 seed St. John’s 12-4 in the Big East Championship on Saturday at Villanova Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,586 to earn the first Big East Championship title. Syracuse (9-7) jumped out to an early 8-0 lead to earn the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
After seniors Bobby Eilers and Tommy Palasek each scored four points in the semifinal win against Villanova on Thursday, they picked up where they left off in the final, connecting to score the first two goals of the game. The first goal came four minutes into the first quarter as Palasek fed Eilers, while the second was a repeat performance five minutes later on a two-man-up goal. Sophomore Derek Maltz scored before Palasek scored one of his own to make it 4-0.
SU started the second half with two more tallies as senior Tim Desko found the back of the net and Palasek netted his second goal of the game for his fifth point of the contest. Palasek had a hand in five of Syracuse’s first six goals.
Seven seconds into the second half, junior Luke Cometti scored off an assist from Eilers to keep the momentum going for Syracuse.
Sophomore Kieran McArdle, the league’s leading scorer during the regular season, ended the scoring drought for the Red Storm (8-7) as he scored an unassisted goal a minute into the second half. Four minutes later, McArdle scored his second goal of the game off an assist from senior Harry Kutner.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, McArdle dished the ball out to Kutner, who cut the Orange lead to six, making it a 9-3 game.
Syracuse again responded with the connection of Palasek and Eilers, as Palasek netted his third goal of the game.
Freshman Matt Walters scored his first goal of the game as Palasek racked up his sixth point of the game on an assist and his 11th point of the tournament. SU added another goal, but St. John’s responded with a score from sophomore Kevin Cernuto off an assist from McArdle to make the final 12-4.
Syracuse advanced to the final after defeating No. 2 seed Villanova. The Orange ended the game on a 10-2 run to record a 15-6 victory against the Wildcats. St. John’s upset No. 1 seed Notre Dame 8-7 in the first semifinal of the evening. The Red Storm jumped out to a big lead, taking an 8-3 advantage into the fourth quarter, but the Irish mounted a comeback, scoring four goals in the fourth quarter. The Red Storm were able to hold off the comeback and advance to the inaugural championship title game.
Syracuse has 11 NCAA titles and has made 31 NCAA tournament appearances.
St. John’s achieved the highest win total since program reinstatement in 2005 with eight. The victory against No. 2 Notre Dame was also the highest ranked opponent St. John’s has beaten.
Freshman goalie Bobby Wardwell made seven saves for the Orange while junior Jeff Lowman made 13 saves for St. John’s. SU outshot the Red Storm 40-30, but the two were almost evenly matched in ground balls, with Syracuse holding a 30-29 edge.
“I thought we came out and really understood in such a short period of time of who they were and what they liked to do, especially defensively,” said Syracuse head coach John Desko. “Guys really rose to the occasion. Our goal was to play 60 minutes of lacrosse again today and I thought we did that. It’s great to win the Big East championship and it’s great to be in the NCAA’s again.”