By Matt Noonan
FOXBOROUGH, MA – During the months of March and April, Gillette Stadium is usually the home to the New England Revolution (MLS), but on an overcast Saturday afternoon in April, it was instead the backyard to the New England Lacrosse Classic.
Four schools from the northeast, which included Syracuse, Providence, Dartmouth and Princeton all gathered to showcase their skills, but also play lacrosse in front of 5,316 fans and game one featured a Big East clash that resulted in another win for the best team in the nation, the Orangemen, as they defeated the Friars, 13-3.
“We knew were going to get that [win],” said Syracuse University head coach John Desko.
“In a low scoring game, I don’t think people expected that, but I thought the environment was great,” said Providence College head coach Chris Burdick.
“I thought our kids responded to the environment very well because you’ve got to look at it from our point of view, teaching and growing the program. Our freshmen just got exposed to a Final Four environment, so that’s the goal for us to end up at that level eventually.”
The Friars scored first when Sean Wright set up Steve Lydon, which resulted in a 1-0 lead for Providence, but the excitement didn’t last long, as Syracuse responded nearly three minutes later when Bobby Eilers recorded his first of three goals.
Providence recorded two more goals during the first quarter, thanks to Evan Helda and Wright, but those would be the only scores the Friars would register for the day. Syracuse eventually tied the score after the first quarter and then added one goal in the second and another in the third, before tallying eight in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t want to come out in the second half and do stupid things and let them get a goal or two,” said Dasko. “We changed our offense in the fourth quarter and fortunately broke free in the fourth quarter for a bunch of goals.”
Syracuse literally scored on every offensive possession in the fourth quarter, as Jeremy Thompson, Stephen Keogh, Joel White, Derek Maltz, Pete Coleman, Steve Ianzito and Eilers all recorded goals. Also, the Orange completely outshot the Friars, 40-12.
“It’s exciting playing at a NFL stadium with that kind of crowd. I love getting up for
the big crowd,” Syracuse attack Stephen Keogh said after his team’s win.
“I just want to do anything I can for the team. If it’s scoring big goals like that I’m fine with that, but we have so many other players that can step up with that. Fortunately it’s been me so far, but it’s not always going to be me, other people stepping up and just as long as we get the win that’s all that matters to me.”
Obviously, the Friars coaches and players were rattled during the electrifying fourth quarter, but this game was certainly a confident booster, especially for an up and coming college lacrosse program.
“We can play with them,” said Providence midfielder Steve Lydon. “We showed that we could stay with them for three quarters. Unfortunately we couldn’t finish them off, [but] we were confident going in, we weren’t going to back down from it also that’s what we had and we just couldn’t fall through.”
The Orangemen maybe indeed the best lacrosse school in the country, but after a game like today, they certainly know they are indeed vulnerable and can be beaten. Whether Providence’s three quarters scared Syracuse is unknown, but again, after a game like this one, Providence should certainly hold their heads high because theire efforts did not go unnoticed.
“Right now, I think the guys responded and played up to the level and up to the environment and I’m proud of them for [their effort],” said Burdick.