- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

ITHACA, N.Y. — Navy has thrived in hostile territory all season, so it was only appropriate the Midshipmen punched their ticket to the final four on an opponent’s home field.

The Mids held off Cornell 6-5 yesterday before 11,480 at Schoellkopf Field to reach their first final four since 1981.

Second-seeded Navy (14-2) will meet sixth-seeded Princeton (11-3) in Saturday’s semifinals.

“Words can’t explain the feeling our team has,” senior attackman Joe Bossi said. “The goal our team set at the beginning of the year is somewhat there. Our goal is not just to get to the final four but to win the whole thing. In your senior year, when it all comes together like it has right now, it’s pretty nice.”

In the second game, Sean Lindsay scored with five seconds left to lift Syracuse past Georgetown 8-7, denying the Hoyas their first final four berth since 1999.

Navy led 6-4 after Graham Gill’s mid-fourth quarter goal but couldn’t put the Big Red (9-5) away. Cornell sliced the lead in half on Andrew Collins’ goal with 1:57 left.

Navy’s Chris Pieczonka capped his 12-for-13 day at the faceoff X by winning the ensuing draw, though goalie Matt Russell threw an errant pass to turn it over seconds later. Navy rider Trevor Hoselton jumped offside to give the Big Red a 30-second man-up situation.

Cornell, though, could not capitalize. When the penalty expired, defensive middie Dan Harris sprinted downfield and broke up a pass with 52 seconds left. Navy defenseman Mike Felber snared the groundball, and the Mids never lost possession again.

Russell made 12 saves for the Mids.

Navy was the only quarterfinalist forced to play on its opponent’s home field, but the venue hardly fazed them. Cornell had been 12-1 at home in postseason games, but the Mids simply added the Big Red to an impressive list of road victims that includes Army, Georgetown, Maryland and North Carolina.

“They did what they needed to do, but I think it’s a credit to our team that they still couldn’t beat us on their field,” Navy coach Richie Meade said.

In the second game, Syracuse produced a timeless finish even without a working scoreboard clock.

The Orange (13-2) overcame a tenacious Georgetown defense and a blown fuse that caused the scoreboard to go dark late in the first half to advance to the semifinals for the 22nd straight season.

“At first I didn’t want to get too excited because I really didn’t know how much time was left,” Lindsay said. “Once I came off to the sideline and [I found out] there was five seconds left, going to the final four became a reality.”

The fourth-seeded Orange had a chance to take the lead on a fast break with 1:17 left. Brian Nee took a pass from Brian Crockett, but Georgetown goalie Rich D’Andrea (18 saves) deflected Nee’s shot. Hoyas midfielder Andy Corno grabbed the groundball and nearly cleared it, but officials stopped play when they saw Nee was injured after sustaining a check.

The call forced the Hoyas (11-4) into another clearing situation, one they fumbled away after a debatable offside call with 58 seconds left.

“I couldn’t tell you quite honestly if we went off, but the film will show,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “That’s a self-inflicted wound. You have to be able to clear the ball in that situation. … I hope we were offside because if we weren’t, then it’s a shame that this game was decided on that type of call. For the sake of the result, I hope we were off, but my instincts are telling me maybe we weren’t.”

After a Syracuse timeout, senior Steve Vallone scampered behind the cage and found Lindsay charging toward the goal. Lindsay then buried a shot to D’Andrea’s left side to clinch the game.

A Syracuse loss might have been the most shocking tournament development in years. The Orange are such regular visitors to the semifinals that fans often book hotel rooms a year in advance with the expectation the program will be among the sport’s elite. For at least one more year, they are.

“I’d be lost if we weren’t playing next weekend,” said Syracuse coach John Desko, who has been on the Orange’s staff for all 22 final four appearances. “I don’t know what I’d do.”

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