CHESTER, Pa. -- In a rematch of the 2013 NCAA championship, third-seeded Syracuse scored twice in the final 15 seconds to defeat No. 2 seed Duke 16-15 in the first semifinal of the 2014 ACC championship on Friday night at PPL Park.
Trailing 14-10 with 13:38 remaining in the game, the Orange scored six of the last seven goals to advance to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship against the winner of top-seeded Maryland and Notre Dame.
Dylan Donahue, who scored the game winner with less than a second left, led the way for Syracuse with four goals on four shots. Kevin Rice tied the tournament single-game record with eight points for the Orange, including setting up Donahue on the final goal.
“It’s a great feeling; they’re a really good team,” Donahue said. “It was a hard-fought effort from both teams and we’re just happy to come away with the win.”
After battling back and forth during the first quarter and into the second, Duke’s defense held Syracuse scoreless for 11:14 as the Blue Devils went on a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 lead early in the second half.
The Orange pulled to within two, 12-10, before Kyle Keenan and Josh Dionne scored 25 seconds apart to start the fourth quarter and push the lead to 14-10.
Rice’s third goal on the night with 9:06 left started the late run for Syracuse, which saw five different players find the back of the net.
With time running out, Syracuse’s Kevin Staats went with a behind-the-head pass to set up Billy Ward for the equalizer with 15 seconds remaining. After a faceoff win by Chris Daddio, Donahue scored the winning goal with less than a second on the clock to send the Orange to the title game.
“We were playing pretty good offense all day, so we just talked in the huddle about our offense. Just stay patient -- there’s 10 minutes left in the game,” Rice said. “Chris [Daddio] started heating up in the faceoff X again and Bobby [Wardwell] made a few huge saves down the stretch and we were able to capitalize.”
Duke was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra-man opportunities while Syracuse was 0-for-4.
Three Blue Devils – Josh Dionne, Case Matheis, and Deemer Class – notched hat tricks for the Duke. Jordan Wolf’s five points on one goal and four assists moved him into fourth on the all-time ACC scoring list with 273 career points.
Syracuse, which lost to Duke 21-7 on March 23, ended a four-game losing streak to the Blue Devils with the win and is now 11-3 in one-goal games in the past two years, including a 4-0 mark this season.
“They won the individual battles,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “They got inside a lot, and when they got inside, they made plays. We knew as coaches that it wasn’t going to be 21-7 again. Those Syracuse players have so much pride and it was tough to convince our guys because they only know that one game. We’ve been doing this a long time and we’ve seen this before.”
Duke’s Brendan Fowler, who started the game 2-for-8 with three violations on faceoffs in the first quarter, won 19-of-24 the rest of the game.
Syracuse goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell picked up the win with eight saves while allowing five goals in the final 30 minutes of action. Wardwell came in at halftime in relief of starter Dominic Lamolinara.