Leveille, Orange prevail

The Baltimore Sun

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Mike Leveille was desperate to make amends.

The senior attackman opened overtime between his Syracuse men's lacrosse team and Virginia with a turnover, and he hungered for another opportunity.

Leveille got his wish and made the most of his second chance when he fired a shot past Cavaliers senior goalkeeper Bud Petit with 1:43 left in the second overtime to power the Orange to a 12-11 victory in an NCAA tournament semifinal before an announced 48,224 at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

With the win, No. 3 seed Syracuse (15-2) advanced to its 15th championship game and will meet No. 5 seed Johns Hopkins (11-5) tomorrow at 1 p.m. The Blue Jays upended top seed Duke (18-2), 10-9, in the other semifinal.

The Orange can thank Leveille, the Tewaaraton Trophy finalist who led all scorers with seven points on five goals and two assists.

Isolated against Cavaliers 6-foot-2, 192-pound sophomore defenseman Ken Clausen, the 6-3, 204-pound Leveille backed his way into the high slot like a center edging his way into the post on a basketball court.

After faking to his left, Leveille spun to his right and fired an ankle-high shot that eluded Petit (16 saves).

"I had a bad turnover early in the first quarter, and I wanted to just get another chance," Leveille said. "I just wanted to get one on net, and I tried to fire one low. Fortunately, it went in."

Syracuse coach John Desko, who has guided the program to three of its nine national championships, said Leveille was actually a second option in the team's strategy.

"In both overtimes, our [discussions in the] timeouts were to run a play and test one of their middies to see if they were going to slide or not," Desko said. "And then the second option was to go to Mike. ... We kind of called his number to dodge on that."

Leveille was instrumental throughout the Orange's game-ending 8-2 run - during which he scored four times and helped wipe out two five-goal advantages that Virginia had built in the third quarter.

After fifth-year senior midfielder Peter Lamade had scored to give the No. 2 Cavaliers (14-4) a 9-4 lead with 6:16 left in the period, Syracuse went on a 4-1 run to narrow the gap to 10-8 with 11:05 left in regulation.

Virginia regained a three-goal lead on junior attackman Danny Glading's third goal of the game from a pass by senior attackman Ben Rubeor with 7:52 left. But goals by junior attackman Greg Niewieroski, senior midfielder Brendan Loftus and Leveille in a span of 3 minutes, 15 seconds sent the game into overtime.

After a scoreless first overtime, Rubeor (Loyola), who went without a goal for the first time since the Cavaliers' 14-8 loss to Delaware in a first-round tournament game last spring, nearly scored the game-winner. But his shot from the right wing appeared to hit the outside part of the apex where the right post and crossbar meet.

"It's tough that a win and a loss is a difference of inches," said Rubeor, a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist. "We had some shots that just hit [freshman goalie John Galloway] and just missed and hit the pipe. It's tough to go out that way, but so it goes. That's sports."

Notes -- Yesterday's announced attendance of 48,224 is the fourth largest to watch a lacrosse game in NCAA history. The record was set last spring when 51,719 watched the NCAA semifinals at M&T; Bank Stadium in Baltimore. ... Syracuse junior attackman Kenny Nims' goal with 50.9 seconds left in the second quarter ended a goalless drought of 22:32 for the Orange.


Virginia 3 3 3 2 0 0 - 11

Syracuse 2 1 3 5 0 1 - 12

Goals: V-Glading 3, Billings 2, Carroll, Lamade, R. Bratton, Barrow, S. Bratton, Pomper; S-Leveille 5, Abbott 3, Loftus 2, Nims, Niewieroski. Assists: V-Carroll, Glading, Rubeor, Thompson; S-Hardy 2, Leveille, Keough. Saves: V-Petit 16; S-Galloway 9.

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