Men's Lacrosse

DOGFIGHT: Schoonmaker’s overtime goal propels Syracuse to win over Albany after 4th-quarter letdown

Spencer Bodian / The Daily Orange

Syracuse celebrates its 17-16 overtime win over Albany on Sunday.

The thought was on Henry Schoonmaker’s mind before the question was even asked to him after the game. He had scored game-tying goals before, but he had never experienced the thrill of a game-winner in overtime.

That is, until Sunday’s game against Albany.

“I was just running for my life from my teammates,” Schoonmaker said. “I think that might have been the most tired I’ve ever been. It was a good feeling, though.”

Despite blowing a five-goal lead in the fourth quarter, No. 2 Syracuse (2-0) escaped with an exhilarating 17-16 overtime victory over the No. 11 Great Danes (0-1) before a divided audience of 6,484 in the Carrier Dome on Sunday. Syracuse leads the all-time series with Albany 11-1, but the Great Danes proved their upset from a season ago was no fluke.

Schoonmaker ended Sunday’s drama with the first shot of the extra period. He unleashed a one-hopper that found the back of the net, sent Albany defender Jon Newhouse to the ground in disappointment and set off Syracuse’s celebration of a win it nearly gave away.

The Syracuse-Albany Classic in the Carrier Dome is slowly becoming a bit of an annual tradition. Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days ago, the unranked Great Danes made their two-hour trip west and returned to Albany with the program’s first over SU in 11 tries. The thrilling double-overtime victory was a rude awakening to the Orange’s season. On Sunday, Syracuse returned the favor with an equally riveting performance.

“A rivalry, they say, is defined when both teams win a game,” Albany head coach Scott Marr said. “Here we are again. What a game.”

Syracuse jumped out to a 7-3 lead after one quarter, but relented four unanswered goals in the second frame. Albany pulled ahead in the final minute of the half for a span of 33 seconds — the only time during the entire game that the Great Danes were in front.

But in a game of runs, the Orange strung together one of its own to pull away from Albany — seemingly.

When Randy Staats scored to punctuate a 5-0 stretch that put the Orange ahead 16-11, the SU sideline and section of the bleachers erupted. Less than 11 minutes remained on the game clock.

Game over, they thought.

“When you get down, it’s easy to fold,” Marr said. “And we did not fold.”

Just as the Great Danes erased a four-goal deficit before halftime, they closed the second half the same way. Two Albany scores cut Syracuse’s lead to three with 7:15 left.

A four-penalty melee left the Syracuse defense at a two-man disadvantage with less than six minutes to go. Three Orange defenders trying to cover five Great Dane attacks.

Two shots misfired. But just as SU’s Brandon Mullins and Tom Grimm were sprinting back onto the field, Lyle Thompson’s shot was on its way toward the bottom-right corner of the net.

Forty-four seconds later, Ty Thompson’s fifth score of the game brought Albany within one, with 4:47 still to play.

“Once they get rolling, no matter how you play defense, it’s hard to stop them,” SU long-stick midfielder Matt Harris said.

Two minutes later, Syracuse goalie Bobby Wardwell got his stick on a Ryan Feuerstein shot, but the ball bounced right to John Maloney, who flicked it into the net. Syracuse had held the lead for almost the entire game, and suddenly it was gone.

And just as abruptly, the Great Danes threatened to pull ahead by winning the next faceoff. Even with SU down a man, Wardwell made a game-saving stop. Syracuse cleared, called timeout with 12.9 seconds remaining, and drew up a play for Hakeem Lecky, who couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.

Twenty-eight seconds into overtime, Staats turned over his left shoulder and passed to an open Schoonmaker, who stood 10 yards from the goal line. Schoonmaker squared his body to the cage, dropped down and side-armed a bouncer past Blaze Riorden’s left and into the net as Syracuse averted what would’ve been a disastrous collapse.

“We knew as a coaching staff this could come down to whoever had the ball last,” SU head coach John Desko said, “and fortunately we had the ball last and we were able to put it away.”

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