Men's Lacrosse

Wilson: Seniors Marasco, Megill leave behind polished legacy despite loss in championship game

PHILADELPHIA — JoJo Marasco could only stand and watch from the sideline as the final seconds ticked away and Duke hoisted the 2013 national championship trophy.

He was rendered helpless — like he was for most of Monday’s 16-10 national championship loss to the Blue Devils — as his team’s desperate comeback officially fell short.

Seven years ago he sat feet away from where he stood as Monday’s game ended, in the section of bleachers directly behind the penalty area for Virginia’s 2006 national championship. When he took a penalty with 15.8 seconds remaining, it ensured he’d stand in that area as his season and career ended, just as helpless as he was on that Memorial Day in 2006.

“There was only 15 seconds left, and I wasn’t trying to do anything dirty or anything,” Marasco said, “just trying to make a play.”

In an act of desperation, Marasco committed a rare penalty fighting to force one last turnover.

As the careers of Marasco and fellow senior Brian Megill come to an end there will be detractors. They were part of 2012’s 9-8 campaign, a rare stain on the Orange’s proud lacrosse tradition, and of course the big one: They never won a national championship.

In decades that may be their legacy – one of the rare four-year stretches without a ring — but the 2013 season was an accomplishment. Ranked No. 18 after a week-one loss to Albany, this wasn’t a team to end a three-year title drought. But as the weeks went on it seemed it would at least have a chance with Marasco and Megill carrying it.

The Megill-led defense held opponents to single digits in seven of top-seeded SU’s last eight games while Marasco became a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist as he sparked comeback after furious comeback. The two somehow lifted the Orange into the championship game.

“This team has overcome tremendous adversity,” Megill said. “One of our coaches told us in the beginning of the game we were ranked preseason 19th. … I’m very proud of these guys.”

But it was the way Marasco and Megill finished their careers, even with the game essentially out of doubt, that cemented what the two meant to the program. Not the final numbers on the scoreboard at a national championship game.

As the Duke lead grew to 13-7 and Syracuse’s desperate grip on a comeback slipped, Marasco put the team on his back.

First came a spectacular goal — “a highlight shot,” as DU head coach John Danowski described it. Marasco popped up from behind the net to the left doorstep and flipped a cross-handed shot over his shoulder and into the back of the net.

Thirty-five seconds later he again scored unassisted, absorbing contact in the crease before firing another goal. The Blue Devils’ lead shrunk to four.

Syracuse would never get closer.

Between Marasco’s two goals, Megill, who won 5-of-7 faceoffs in the game, fell to the ground. The defender who battled a nagging knee injury throughout the entire season wasn’t on for the next faceoff. And by the time he was ready to take another faceoff, the Blue Devils had gotten both goals back.

“We had success,” Megill said. “I just wish I would have went out there two quarters earlier.”

What people will remember is that the two got to the final and couldn’t get it done. That for the first time since 1999, a senior class leaves SU without a ring. What they won’t remember is the incredible fourth quarter the two turned in.

People won’t remember the 11 turnovers and the three in the fourth quarter. People won’t remember that the second-line midfield was virtually invisible for the final three quarters until All-American Henry Schoonmaker’s off-balance shot with a minute left fell feet both short and wide.

For the immediate future Megill and Marasco probably won’t remember that either, but when the two are long gone and look back at the 2013 season, there will always be reason to smile on the season that proved the doubters wrong.

“To be here and kind of work your way through the season and up in the biggest game there is in college lacrosse has been a great reward,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said, “and like I said, I think these guys will look back at it and enjoy it.”

David Wilson is an assistant sports editor for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at dbwilson@syr.edu or on Twitter at @DBWilson2.

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