Syracuse rallies from four-goal deficit to defeat Bryant in NCAA first round
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Top-seeded Syracuse (14-3) overcame an early 4-0 deficit and defeated Northeast Conference champion Bryant (8-11) by the score of 12-7 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday at the Carrier Dome. Sophomore attackman Kevin Rice led the Orange with four points (two goals, two assists) and redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue scored a team-high three goals.
With the victory, the Orange improved to 10-3 in first-round NCAA games and advanced to the quarterfinal round for the 30th time in school history. Syracuse will face Ivy League champ Yale on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.
Bryant's Colin Dunster scored twice in the opening minute Sunday to help the visiting Bulldogs jump out to a 4-0 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. However, the Orange defense weathered the storm and allowed just three goals through the last 52 minutes.
It was a strong defensive performance, considering Syracuse lost 22 of 23 faceoffs to Kevin Massa. The Orange was able to minimize the damage and get some of those possessions back thanks to 18 Bryant turnovers, including 11 that were forced by the defense.
After the early Bryant outburst, senior Luke Cometti got the Orange on the board with 7:29 to go in the first. Rice followed with a goal, and sophomore Matt Walters ripped one home from 12 yards out to slice the deficit to 4-3 after the opening 15 minutes.
In the second quarter, Peter McMahon pushed the Bryant advantage back to two 5-3 at the 5:37 mark, but the rest of the period belonged to the Orange. Syracuse notched consecutive goals, including Donahue's finish of a Billy Ward pass with four seconds left, to tie the game at halftime 5-5.
The Orange continued its charge in the third quarter as Cometti struck three minutes into the second half to give Syracuse its first lead at 6-5. His goal sparked a 4-1 Orange rally that put the hosts firmly in control of game 9-6.
Dunster finally stopped the Syracuse surge with an unassisted goal in the final minute of the third quarter. However, his goal was the last one for the Bulldogs as the Syracuse tacked on three in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Dunster and McMahon combined for six of Bryant's seven goals. Both players finished with three apiece. Starting goalie Gunnar Waldt made 10 saves for the Bulldogs, including six in the first half. Waldt was replaced in the cage by Tom Carey late in the game. Carey allowed one goal and did not make a save.
Cometti finished with two goals and one assist for Syracuse. Orange goalie Dominic Lamolinara made his first NCAA tournament start between the pipes and stopped eight shots to pick up the win.