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Syracuse scores in overtime to spoil Cavaliers' opener

The rematch of last season's NCAA men's lacrosse championship Saturday seemed for 62 minutes to be a fight between two immovable objects. Virginia, the champion, and Syracuse, the top contender, exchanged goals for four quarters, and only when the winner had to be decided did officials step in and declare a new king.

No. 2 Syracuse (1-0) scored two minutes into the sudden-death overtime period, downing No. 1 Virginia (0-1), 13-12, after a controversial illegal procedure call in the final seconds that perplexed the crowd of 4,643 at Klöckner Stadium Saturday.

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  • After regulation ended with the game tied at 12, Cav Coach Dom Starsia called timeout to prepare a potentially game-winning play as Virginia moved up the field following a missed Orange shot. But referees charged the Cavaliers with an illegal procedure call and handed possession to Syracuse, claiming that Starsia had called time while the ball was on his defensive end. Teams may not call timeout unless they have crossed over the midfield line to their offensive half.

    Syracuse capitalized on the infraction with the deciding goal by All-American attackman Ryan Powell.

    "The game could have gone either way, and we were fortunate that Ryan Powell just wanted to win this one for the team," Syracuse Coach John Desko said.

    Starsia said the call that led to the final Syracuse possession was a result of a misunderstanding by the official.

    "I was telling the official, 'I want a timeout,'" Starsia said. "I didn't really ask. I was preparing him because I wanted the timeout [later]. I'm sure it was an honest mistake."

    The divisive finish followed an hour of championship-level lacrosse between the two top competitors for the 2000 title. The game featured a number of intriguing matchups of pre-season All-Americans, including the contest between Powell and Virginia's Ryan Curtis, last season's Schmeisser Cup winner as the nation's best defenseman. Powell seemed to get the best of the pairing as the senior tallied four goals and two assists while being checked primarily by the Cavs' top defender.

    "He did a great job on me, but I managed to make a couple on him as well," Powell said. "It was a typical matchup when a good defenseman goes up against a good attackman."

    Virginia fell behind early, 4-0, but rallied in the third quarter with four straight goals, three of them on extra-man opportunities, to enter the final period with a 10-9 advantage. The Cavs received four points from senior attackman Drew McKnight (two goals and two assists) and three goals from linemate David Bruce. Freshmen A.J. Shannon and Chris Rotelli also combined for three goals.

    In the fourth quarter, the Orange took a 12-11 lead after attackman Liam Banks quicksticked a Powell feed with 8:57 left in regulation. A minute later, however, Bruce answered for Virginia with a goal from near the crease off a McKnight assist to tie the game. The Cavs had an opportunity to win in regulation after taking a timeout with 41 seconds to go but couldn't manage to get a shot from the front.

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