Rhamel Bratton scored a career-high four goals to pace the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (4-0) to a narrow triumph over the No. 1 Syracuse Orange (2-1), 11-10, on Sunday in front of 7,501 raucous fans at Klöckner Stadium.
The last four meetings between Syracuse and Virginia in the series each have been determined by one goal, with UVa holding the 3-1 advantage during the span. The victory is also UVa's second consecutive over Syracuse when the Orange are ranked No. 1 in the nation and the Cavaliers are No. 2. UVa topped Syracuse on Feb. 27, 2009 in the Carrier Dome 13-12 in the last meeting between the two teams.
"I thought once we got over the silliness of the first quarter we did a really nice job defensively almost the entire rest of the game," said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. "Coming into the game I was a little concerned about where we were going to get our offense. Rhamel [Bratton] and Brian Carroll really got us going."
Bratton (Huntington Station, N.Y.) scored the game's first goal at 13:54 on a transition pass from Chris LaPierre (Medford, N.J.).
Syracuse then took a 3-1 lead via three man-up goals. The first two scores came on an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on Ryan Nizolek (Madison, Conn.) at 9:17. Tim Desko scored at 9:04 on a pass from Chris Daniello on the man-up chance. The Nizolek foul was non-releaseable, allowing the Daniello to Desko tandem to score another man-up score at 8:13.
LaPierre was tagged for pushing at 5:37, allowing Stephen Keogh to take a Daniello pass for a third straight man-up score, capping the 3-0 run.
Virginia cut into its deficit via a Steele Stanwick (Baltimore, Md.) unassisted goal at 4:44. Stanwick wrapped around from the X position and scored going to his left, cutting into the Orange's lead, 3-2.
Daniello would tally the final goal of the first quarter via a Josh Amidon pass at 2:58. The man-up score came after a Max Pomper (Huntington, N.Y.) pushing penalty, giving Syracuse the 4-2 lead after one quarter of play.
Jeremy Thompson extended the Syracuse lead to three goals, 5-2, after Jeremy Thompson scored a man-up goal on an Amidon pass. The Orange had the man-up opportunity after Bray Malphrus (Chevy Chase, Md.) was penalized for slashing.
Syracuse would not score for the next 28:23 of play as UVa rallied off seven straight goals to take a 9-5 lead.
Matt White (Ridgefield, Conn.) scored at 10:54 on a LaPierre helper. Chris Bocklet (South Salem, N.Y.) scored two straight man-up goals, the first on an assist from Brian Carroll (Towson, Md.) at 7:09 after the Orange's Tim Harder was penalized for an illegal body check. Bocklet scored again at 6:05 on a pass from White after the Orange's Jovan Miller was also penalized for an illegal body check.
Bratton scored unassisted at 5:46, followed by a Carroll score on a Stanwick pass at 2:31. Bratton capped the first half scoring when he scored unassisted at 2:01, sending UVa into the intermission with the three-goal lead, 8-5.
Carroll scored in transition from Nizolek at 12:49, capping UVa's scoring streak and giving the Cavaliers the 9-5 advantage.
After a tremendous save on a John Haldy (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) shot in a one-on-one situation, Syracuse goalie John Galloway started a successful clear that led to the Orange breaking their scoreless drought with eight seconds remaining in the third quarter. Miller came over the middle and drilled the goal, cutting UVa's lead to three goals, 9-6.
Bratton started the fourth quarter off with his final goal, unassisted at 13:46, pushing the UVa lead back to four goals, 10-6.
Syracuse scored two consecutive unassisted goals, the first by Keogh at 9:22, quickly followed after the following faceoff by Cody Jamieson at 8:58.
Stanwick gave UVa the insurance goal it needed at 7:27 when he scored unassisted, pushing the UVa advantage to three goals, 11-8.
Syracuse made one final push by scoring the game's final two goals. Daniello scored his second goal at 5:26 on a Jamieson pass. After winning the ensuing faceoff, the Orange scored five seconds later on a Thompson score.
The Orange possessed the ball for the final minute of play, but an Amidon turnover secured the triumph for UVa. Amidon was looking for one of his attackmen, but sailed the pass way over his head and out of bounds with 14 seconds left. UVa ran out the clock, securing the 11-10 victory.
Virginia won a few team categories over Syracuse, including shots (43-34), ground balls (37-36) and turnovers (14-15). The Cavaliers cleared on 17-of-19 opportunities.
Bratton led the way for UVa with four goals.
"Rhamel has been our most improved player since September," said Starsia. "He has been much more consistent. With his brother not playing much today, a lot of responsibility fell on Rhamel's shoulders. He made plays despite the fact that they have one of the best long stick midfielders."
After Bratton, UVa received Stanwick's two scores and three points, while Carroll chipped in two goals and three points. White and Bocklet added two points apiece. Adam Ghitelman finished with seven saves between the pipes.
Daniello paced Syracuse with two goals and five points, while Keogh and Thompson each added a couple goals in the losing effort. Galloway was under attack most of the day, saving 18 shots while allowing the 11 goals.
Virginia is back in action on Tuesday when the Cavaliers host VMI. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m., inside Klöckner Stadium.