- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — That Syracuse will be playing in its 21st straight NCAA men’s lacrosse final four barely registers as a surprise. The way the Orangemen got there was the shocking part.

Michael Powell scored four goals and added three assists and Mike Springer also scored four times as Syracuse blasted fourth-seeded Princeton 15-5 yesterday in the tournament quarterfinals before 8,198 at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse jumped to an 11-1 lead and cruised to a semifinal date Saturday at Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium against the winner of this afternoon’s Johns Hopkins-Towson game.

“We knew what we had to do,” Powell said. “We’ve played them so many times, we really didn’t need a scouting report. We know them like we practice against them every day.”

The teams split a pair of one-goal decisions in the last two NCAA title games and Princeton escaped the Carrier Dome earlier this season with an 11-10 victory, making this the most highly anticipated game of the quarterfinal weekend. However, the Orangemen (10-5) fed off the noisy home crowd and gave the Tigers (11-4) little chance.

With the victory, Syracuse continued to put an unusually difficult regular season behind. The Orangemen dropped five regular-season games for the first time since 1977 but have won three straight and appear to be peaking in time for the final four — as many of their predecessors have in the last two decades.

Powell was nearly unstoppable in the first half and had a hand in five of the Orangemen’s first seven goals. He assisted Brian Crockett to open the scoring, then scored on his own to make it 2-0. Princeton’s Sean Hartofilis cut the lead in half with 4:20 left in the first quarter, but Powell beat Princeton goalie Julian Gould with a low shot late in the period to make it 3-1.

Syracuse then unleashed a barrage to put the game out of reach. Senior Liam Banks scored after taking Powell’s feed off the opening faceoff of the second quarter. Just more than a minute later Crockett scored his second goal. Powell’s extra-man goal with 10:44 left in the half extended the Orangemen’s lead to five and left Princeton in a daze.

“I told the kids [Friday] that we weren’t playing against Gary [Gait] and Paul [Gait] and Ryan [Powell] and Casey [Powell], but at times out there today I felt like we were,” Princeton coach Bill Tierney said.

About the only thing to halt the Syracuse offense in the first half was the team’s coaches. Up 7-1, the Orangemen had a goal taken off the board when officials determined that coach John Desko had asked for a timeout before the shot.

Syracuse didn’t relent after the break. Springer scored a pair of goals in the third quarter before Brian Nee and Banks scored seven seconds apart to extend the lead to 11-1.

Meanwhile, Pfeifer made nearly all the plays he was asked to. The sophomore collected 14 saves and helped hold the Tigers scoreless for more than 32 minutes.

Notes — The 10-goal deficit was Princeton’s worst postseason defeat. The Tigers lost to Yale 17-8 in the 1990 quarterfinals. … Springer tied Casey Powell for third on Syracuse’s career scoring list with 158 goals … Syracuse was the only team to defeat possible semifinal opponent Johns Hopkins, 15-14 on March 15. The Orangemen have not played Towson since 2000.

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