Top-seeded Syracuse trailed by four goals after 26 minutes of its NCAA tournament quarterfinal. The artificial turf at Hofstra Stadium was steaming and the defending champs were stumbling in front of 10,510, but all that deficit did was rile the Orangemen.
They reeled off four straight goals to gain a tie in the opening minute of the second half, and followed with a six-goal run that added up to an 18-13 victory.
"We want that pressure," said John Glatzel, Syracuse's junior defenseman out of Boys' Latin. "We want to win championships, and we expect to get to the final four. We look forward to this every year, and we know that people are going to come after us."
The Orangemen (12-2) advanced to next Saturday's semifinals at Rutgers, where they will meet Johns Hopkins, which beat them in the Carrier Dome two months ago, or Notre Dame, which would give Glatzel a reunion with his brother, Tom, the top point-getter for the Fighting Irish.
It will be Syracuse's 19th straight appearance in the semifinals. How long has it been since that round didn't include the Orangemen? The 1982 semis were played five months before the birth of Michael Powell, the slick freshman attackman who is the third member of his family to star for the program.
A three-goal deficit to Hopkins on St. Patrick's Day was the biggest hole Syracuse had faced this season before Hofstra got that four-goal bulge on a series of lucky bounces and unlikely goals.
Virginia had a five-goal lead on the Pride (10-7) with eight minutes left in the first round, and when Scott Dooley contributed a marvelous assist to Tom Kessler for an 8-4 lead with 4:34 left in the first half, coach John Danowski and company dreamed of an even bigger shocker.
Syracuse's arsenal includes Chris Cercy, who led the nation in faceoff percentage for the second straight season. His work allowed the Orangemen to score twice within four seconds in the final minute of the first half and twice again in seven seconds in the third, when they went ahead to stay on one of Josh Coffman's four goals and Liam Banks added steam to the six-goal spurt.
By the time Michael Springer finished it, Syracuse led 16-10 with 7:29 left.
"A big part of it was scoring those goals at the end of the second period," Orange coach John Desko said. "In the second half, our shots were starting to fall."
Cercy thought that Syracuse was rusty after a bye week. Goalie Rob Mulligan, another of Syracuse's five starters who enjoyed a Long Island homecoming, saw no parallel to 1998, the last time the Orangemen played here. He came off the bench as a freshman, when Syracuse scored the last nine goals and came from six down against Virginia in the first round.
"That was different," Mulligan said. "I had to give us a spark then. This time, I had to settle us down. Hofstra was scoring a lot of weird goals, what we refer to as garbage goals. They weren't going to score on us 6-on-6. Once we made them get in their set offense, they had a hard time scoring."
Kessler got four goals and finished with a school-record 51 for the season, but his production against Glatzel in the first 53 minutes minutes was limited to a transition goal.
"Syracuse is No. 1, and there's no way they're just going to roll over and let us score," Hofstra midfielder Steve McTigue said. "We had a chance to bury them and didn't get it done."
Hofstra 5 3 2 3 - 13 Syracuse 2 5 5 6 - 18
Goals: H-Kessler 4, Dooley 3, Dougherty 2, McTigue 2, Femminella, Shanahan; S-Coffman 4, Powell 3, Banks 3, Springer 3, Solliday 2, Wright, Januszkiewicz, Lindsay. Assists: H-Dooley 3, Hananel 2, McTigue; S-Banks 2, Springer 2, Coffman 2, Perritt, Wright, Powell, Cercy. Saves: H-Alaimo 16; S-Mulligan 10.