Johns Hopkins v. (2) Syracuse
Johns Hopkins pressured Syracuse in a 40-minute span that started after the halftime break and survived a late dash from the Orange to secure a huge 16-15 victory against Syracuse in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Jays had suffered a difficult regular season setback to the Orange in the Carrier Dome despite playing fairly well, getting vengeance against their rivals at the most important stage of the season. Syracuse ends its 2015 season with a 13-3 record and lost opportunities associated with a team that entered May with the strongest odds to pillage the gold medal on Memorial Day.
The first half was an impressive display of balanced competitiveness with each team's goalkeepers -- Eric Schneider for Hopkins and Bobby Wardwell for Syracuse -- playing well against highly potent opposing offenses that designed an elastic scoreboard that stretched and compressed every few possessions. Despite the Blue Jays pulling out to two two-goal leads in the first half-hour, it was the Orange that entered the intermission with a 7-6 advantage and a hint of momentum. Dylan Donahue was an animal for Syracuse over the game's first two quarters, generating four points on two goals and two assists while Wells Stanwick paced Johns Hopkins in the first two periods, registering the Jays' first three goals of the afternoon while steadying an attack that threatened Syracuse's defense in numerous ways. In terms of production splits, Syracuse was barely more efficient than Johns Hopkins in the first half -- the Jays cashed in on almost 38 percent of their 16 estimated offensive opportunities, shooting just above 26 percent while committing two turnovers; the Orange created tallies on almost 39 percent of the team's 18 estimated offensive opportunities, shooting a soft 29.17 percent while pitching the bean away four times -- but Syracuse held a small estimated possession margin of approximately two opportunities, the light edge in possession margin allowing the Orange to build the smallest degree of leverage possible.
The third quarter, however, changed the entire complexion of the game. Johns Hopkins popped for four straight goals in the first eight minutes of the period and developed five total markers in the quarter en route to an 11-8 lead at the end of 45 minutes. Wells Stanwick sparked the Blue Jays' decisive push, accounting for three points in the penultimate quarter while creating more offense than Syracuse's stable of offensive weapons. Johns Hopkins absolutely destroyed the Orange in the frame, scoring on almost two-thirds of the team's eight estimated offensive opportunities while shooting close to 40 percent and getting an exceptional three-save performance from Schneider, the output from the crease meriting an incredible 75.00 save percentage. Syracuse, contrastingly, played one of its worst periods in its 2015 campaign, shooting 20 percent and burying the pill just once in seven estimated offensive trips, the team turning a manageable one-possession deficit into a four-goal disadvantage. The Jays played with a purposeful ambition during the quarter while Syracuse seemed distracted in its approach, and the residue was Johns Hopkins creating a cushion that would sustain it through the final 15 minutes of action.
The Orange attempted to change the narrative established in the first three quarters, but Syracuse's compact blitz with fewer than four minutes remaining in regulation ultimately fell short as the Orange crashed out of the tournament. Trailing 10-15 after Shack Stanwick rammed home a bucket with 3:50 left on the clock, Syracuse started a charge: Nicky Galasso needed only 35 seconds to answer Stanwick's hammer to limit the Orange's deficit to four; Randy Staats brought Syracuse within three just 30 seconds after Galasso found twine; Ryan Brown would throw in an empty-net goal with 1:46 remaining in regulation to give the Jays a 16-12 advantage, but then the real excitement started -- Galasso, Henry Schoonmaker, and Kevin Rice each made deposits at the United Bank of Money Goals in 33 seconds -- !!!!! -- to bend the scoreboard into showing a tenuous 16-15 lead for Johns Hopkins with just under two dozen seconds remaining in regulation. The press from Syracuse, however, would be its last: Johns Hopkins won the faceoff proceeding from Rice's tally and the Orange were comically unable to corral a loose ball and clear its zone for a final rush on Schneider, accepting defeat as the Blue Jays stormed the field to celebrate the program's first Championship Weekend appearance since 2008.
|Estimated Possession Margin
|Estimated Raw Offensive Efficiency
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate
|Estimated Turnover Rate
|Team Save Percentage