STONY BROOK, N.Y. - No. 4 Syracuse came back from a seven-goal deficit to defeat No. 1 Florida 14-13 in double overtime in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championship on May 25 in Stony Brook, N.Y. The Orange advances to the NCAA championship game for the first time in program history.
The victory marked the first time the Orange (19-3) has defeated a team ranked No. 1 in the nation in 16 tries. Syracuse also set a single-season record with its 19th win of the year.
Syracuse senior Sarah Holden scored an unassisted goal 58 seconds into the second overtime period to complete the second-largest comeback in the tournament's history. Holden tied her career with four goals.
Brittany Dashiell scored her fourth goal of the game as the Gators (20-3) equaled its largest lead of the day at 12-5 with 17:15 to play in regulation. Freshman Devon Collins started Syracuse's comeback when she scored on an assist from junior Linley Block off a clearing attempt. Junior Michelle Tumolo and sophomore Alyssa Murray followed with unassisted goals to cut the deficit to 13-8 at the 7:49 mark. Shannon Gilroy briefly halted Syracuse's scoring run with her fifth goal of the night with 7:19 on the clock, which put the Gators back up by five, but that would be Florida's final goal of the game.
Holden and Murray accounted for the final five goals of regulation, and Holden's free position goal with 30 seconds remaining tied the score at 13-13. The Orange had a chance to win the game with 11 second remaining, but Gators' goalkeeper Mikey Meagher stopped Tumolo's free position shot to force overtime.
After neither team scored in the first three-minute session of overtime, Florida appeared to have recorded the go-ahead goal with nine seconds remaining in the first extra session, but it was disallowed due to an illegal stick. The Orange regained possession and ran out the clock to force a sudden-death second overtime period.
Freshman Kailah Kempney won the draw to give the Orange possession. Syracuse took the ball into its offensive zone and Holden worked the ball around the right side and put a low bounce shot past Meagher for the game-winner.
"It (overtime) was all in slow motion," Holden said. "I remember we were in our first set offense and the goalie went down and made a save (on my shot) and I was certain that it would not happen to me again. So I did a split/dodge and buried it low and it went in. It was an amazing feeling."
Syracuse never led in the game until Holden's game winner. Florida jumped out to an early lead and three consecutive goals by Gilroy, including one with 15 seconds remaining, gave the Gators a 7-3 lead at intermission.
"At halftime, the players came together and they didn't give up," said Syracuse head coach Gary Gait. "We talked about believing and we did it last week so we believed we could do it again. With a little bit of luck, drive and heart we were able to come out on top. It is an amazing feeling to come out on top. This kind of heart never gives up. I'm very proud of them."
Tumolo led the Orange with five points (three goals, two assists), while Holden and Murray finished with four goals apiece.
The Orange outshot the Gators, 43-24, and picked up 19 ground balls compared to six for Florida. Both teams won 16 draw controls. Sophomore Alyssa Costantino made two saves in the first half, while freshman Kelsey Richardson had four saves, including one on a shot by Gilroy with 3:52 remaining to keep the Orange within striking distance.
The Orange goes for its first national championship on Sunday, May 27 when it takes on No. 2 Northwestern at 8 p.m. The game will be telecast on ESPNU.
Courtesy Syracuse Athletics