- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. | Amid a posse of stars, Pat Perritt doesn’t always stand out for the Syracuse lacrosse team.

Just don’t tell Duke that.

Perritt, a senior midfielder, scored a career-high four goals, and defenseman Sid Smith smothered Duke All-America attackman Ned Crotty as the second-seeded Orange blistered the third-seeded Blue Devils 17-7 on Saturday to reach the NCAA tournament title game.

Kenny Nims added four goals for Syracuse (15-2), which dealt Duke its largest margin of defeat since 2003.

“We were certainly on our heels,” said coach John Danowski, whose team lost in the final four for the fourth time in five years. “There’s no doubt about it. I think it was a group effort. I think everybody has a hand in this, and we probably won’t know that until we watch the film, which probably won’t be until the year 2012 or 2013.”

They won’t see Perritt again, which is probably for the best for the Blue Devils (15-4). While a solid player throughout his career, he is rarely required to provide a scoring punch.

Why should he? Nims and Stephen Keogh compose a redoubtable feed-and-fire pair, bulky midfielder Dan Hardy is a magnet for attention and Matt Abbott is the do-everything engine for the defending national champs.

“I play with two All-Americans at midfield,” Perritt said. “Dan’s getting the long pole, and Matt’s getting a great defender. I’m getting the third guy and a short stick. They put so much focus on those two guys that it sets up for me. They’re hesitant to slide to me because they know Dan or Matt will be open.”

So Perritt floated through his final season quietly. Until Saturday.

He scored twice in the first quarter, including one of two Syracuse goals in the final minute to turn a tie into a 4-2 lead. He added two more before halftime as the Orange piled up a four-goal edge.

Perritt’s damage was bad enough, but Duke fumbled its few opportunities, shooting quickly on goalie John Galloway (11 saves) and minimizing its six-on-six possession time. The Blue Devils botched their few transition chances and allowed the athletic Orange to gallop the field and pick apart a defense that yielded 17 goals for the first time since a 2004 loss to Maryland.

Syracuse effectively out-Duked Duke, playing a game that coach John Desko said was the Orange’s preferred style from start to finish.

“We always come here the same way - very confident,” said junior attackman Max Quinzani, who scored three goals. “They punched us in the mouth, and you have to give them credit for that. I felt at first we had composure, but whether it was the keeper making saves or we were hitting his stick, it didn’t allow us to have long possessions, and then we started running around like chickens with our heads cut off.”

Smith’s work only exacerbated matters for the Blue Devils. The senior limited Crotty to a pair of assists, both in the first quarter, and his quiet day sapped Duke’s offense of its most vital cog.

Still, that was just one piece of the headache. Duke, still reeling from the first half, gave up a goal to Syracuse’s Jake Moulton off the opening faceoff of the third quarter.

“When we got behind, it’s been a long time since we’ve been behind in a game, and I believe we started pressing a little bit and started trying to force the ball and trying to make plays,” Danowski said.

Even when Duke offered a glimmer of its usually potent offense, Syracuse soon stifled it. The Blue Devils didn’t score consecutive goals in the final three quarters, the Orange’s offensive variety inevitably offering a reply.

“We probably have 10 guys who are capable of putting up big numbers,” said Nims, one of nine players to score for Syracuse. “Any given day, any of them could have a huge day. That’s been the theme of our season all year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new stepped up and had a big game on Monday.”

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