Men's Lacrosse

Brendan Bomberry delivers No. 6 Syracuse in an 8-7 overtime thriller at No. 14 Johns Hopkins

Courtesy of Larry French | SU Athletics

Brendan Bomberry scored the game-winning goal for the Orange.

BALTIMORE — After Ben Williams won the faceoff to start overtime, players huddled around the All-American specialist. He put Syracuse in position to win in sudden-death overtime against archrival Johns Hopkins. In the second-lowest scoring Syracuse-Johns Hopkins game since 1985, players welcomed any chance for a score.

Sixty-one seconds later, junior midfielder Brendan Bomberry punched the winning score in from just outside the crease. In SU head coach John Desko’s 300th game, the player who hadn’t collected a point ended No. 6 Syracuse’s (5-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) fifth straight one-goal game, 8-7, over No. 14 Johns Hopkins (4-3) on Saturday afternoon at Homewood Field. With a defender on his tail, Bomberry caught a Sergio Salcido pass and, hardly pulling back his stick, pushed the ball past JHU goalie Gerald Logan.

“Our guys drew slides and make it easy for me around the net,” Bomberry said. “If they don’t draw slides, I don’t get open.”

Through six games, three game-winners by three different players illustrates the balance by which Syracuse’s offense thrives. In the first, a month ago against then-No. 12 Albany, Nick Mariano fired the game-winner with under two seconds on the clock. Against then-No. 9 Virginia two weeks ago, Salcido rifled the final score. On Saturday, Bomberry clinched the game, extending Syracuse’s streak to 45 consecutive wins when holding opponents to fewer than 10 goals.

Midway through the season, SU hasn’t established a single go-to option. Jordan Evans has been inconsistent, Saturday included, when he had just one assist for an SU team that has scored fewer than 10 goals in back-to-back games. Yet Syracuse has resorted to a different player to bring magic to the offense late in games. Seven SU players have five goals or more, led by Bomberry’s 13 — none bigger than his last, which Nick Mariano set up with his no-look goal in the final minute of regulation.

Asked whom Hopkins keyed on in the final minutes, Blue Jays head coach Dave Pietramela shook his head. Junior midfielder Hunter Moreland snickered, then smirked as if to acknowledge SU’s diversified attack.

“All of our guys can finish and make plays,” Bomberry said. “We have that many guys who can make plays and put the ball in the net for us.”

The 56th all-time meeting between Syracuse and Johns Hopkins lacrosse started fitting enough. About 40 minutes before faceoff, a handful of players from both sides met at midfield for a pregame scuffle. Officials handed each side an unsportsmanlike penalty and both teams started a man down.

Last year, Syracuse jumped out to a 4-0 lead, outshot JHU by 10 and picked up eight more ground balls. Yet the Orange committed 14 turnovers and blew its four-score lead on a rebound goal in the overtime heart-breaker for its first loss of 2016. The JHU loss started SU’s three-game losing skid.

“Homewood,” senior attack Jordan Evans said before the season began, “that’s not a good memory going in there. We have the lead and give it up. It’s a good thing for us to go down there and make a statement.”

Bomberry penned that statement in his first college game at Homewood. It buzzed as temperatures sat around 50 degrees. The JHU pep band played during stoppages. A steady hum came from the middle of the Johns Hopkins fan base all afternoon, no louder than in the final minutes of regulation. No quieter than after Bomberry’s blow to the Hopkins faithful.

“You saw what happened when we slide too much,” Pietramala said. “The last two goals were off a slide. If you have a miscue on the interior, they find it.”

The teams first met in 1921 with a 4-4 tie. Fifty-five meetings and nearly a century later, the units remain at the top of the sport. They’ve met each year since 1980. They’ve combined for 19 NCAA titles. For decades, Syracuse and Johns Hopkins have been the landing spots for the nation’s most prized recruits.

Three of Syracuse’s 25 victories against Johns Hopkins have come with the national championship on the line. A single goal has now decided 14 of the last 29 meetings. In the most recent edition of college lacrosse’s most storied, intense rivalry, goals came at a premium. Syracuse held leads of 4-2, 5-4 and 6-4. Still, in a game during which no lead was safe, JHU inevitably fought back to pull within one. Then tie. Then take the lead, 7-6, before Mariano’s game-tying shot.

This time, the Orange came out on top with the sight of Bomberry emerging from the crease, stick held high.

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