2015 ACC MLAX: Syracuse holds off Duke for 1st ACC title

Todd Bauders, TSN via theACC.com
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Todd Bauders, TSN via theACC.com
Todd Bauders, TSN via theACC.com

CHESTER, PA. – The sixth-ranked Duke Blue Devils fell short and suffered a 15-14 defeat to the fourth-ranked Syracuse Orange in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Tournament final game at PPL Park on Sunday.

The Orange claimed their first ACC title after completing their second year of league play.

“We want to congratulate Coach Desko, his staff, and his students on winning the ACC championship,” Duke head coach John Danowski said.

“It’s a great honor and they have a great time and great tradition.”

Jack Bruckner (5 goals) and Myles Jones (3 goals, 2 assists) led the Blue Devils offense, while Justin Guterding and Case Matheis supported with two goals apiece.

Kevin Rice, Randy Staats, and Nicky Galasso led the way for Syracuse with three goals each.

Both goalkeepers came up with impressive stops throughout as the Orange’s Bobby Wardwell finished with eight saves while Danny Fowler came up with six for the Blue Devils.

Duke outshot Syracuse 43-35 and executed the fundamentals effectively, picking up 34 ground balls, while Kyle Rowe dominated at the faceoff-X, winning 21-of-32 draws.

However, it was the Orange who took advantage of critical man-up sequences to eventually keep the Blue Devils at a distance long enough to earn a second win against them this season.

The Orange converted on 3-of-4 EMO’s, while the Blue Devils went scoreless on the four they had, including two during the final quarter of play.

Highlights – ACC Digital Network

The Orange fell behind early, trailing 5-1 before putting together their own 5-1 run as both teams were tied 6-6 with 9:03 to play in the second quarter.

With Syracuse leading 9-7 at halftime, both teams battled throughout the final two quarters, with Duke pulling within a goal on four different occasions.

Thomas Zenker and Jones scored for Duke within 24 seconds to make it a one-goal game, 15-14, with 2:32 remaining.

However, Wardwell and the Syracuse defense maintained its shape and discipline, and kept the Blue Devils from scoring for the remainder of the game.

“I think we understood who they were,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said.

“I give Bobby Wardwell a lot of credit for the saves that he made today. I was surprised with the numbers, the amount of situations and all over play. He saved us today.”

Notes: Rice was named the Most Valuable Player after tallying seven points on three goals and four assists on Sunday and two goals and two assists in the semifinals on Friday…The 29 goals scored equaled the championship game record, set in each of the last two years. It marked the sixth time in league history that the title game was decided by one goal…Following Syracuse, who had five players selected to the All-Tournament Team, Duke had four players – Bruckner, Matheis, Jones, and Rowe – who received the honor.

2015 ACC Men’s Lacrosse All-Tournament Team

Kevin Rice, Syracuse (MVP)

Bobby Wardwell, Syracuse

Brandon Mullins, Syracuse

Nicky Galasso, Syracuse

Randy Staats, Syracuse

Jack Bruckner, Duke

Case Matheis, Duke

Kyle Rowe, Duke

Myles Jones, Duke

Chad Tutton, North Carolina

Nick Ossello, Notre Dame