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Syracuse rolls past St. John’s for Big East tourney title

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VILLANOVA, Pa. — Led by a career high-tying six points from Tommy Palasek, the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team built a seven-goal lead in the first half and never looked back en route to a 12-4 victory over St. John’s to capture the inaugural Big East Conference men’s lacrosse championship Saturday at Villanova Stadium.

The Orange (9-7) earned the conference’s automatic bid in the NCAA Division I Championship. Syracuse will learn its first-round NCAA opponent tonight at 9 when the 16-team tournament field is revealed on ESPNU.

Syracuse will make its fifth consecutive appearance in the national tournament, and its 32nd overall. St. John’s finished 8-7.

Palasek, who had 10 points with four goals and six assists against Villanova and St. John’s in the tournament, was named the Most Outstanding Player. He was joined by Bobby Eilers, Brian Megill and Bobby Wardwell on the all-tournament team.

“I thought we came out and really understood in such a short period of time of who they were and what they liked to do, especially defensively,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “Guys really rose to the occasion. Our goal was to play 60 minutes of lacrosse again today and I thought we did that. It’s great to win the Big East championship and it’s great to be in the NCAA’s again.”

Against St. John’s, the Orange used a season-high five man-up goals to help gain control of the game, and finished the contest 5-for-6 with the man advantage. The Orange outshot the Red Storm, 40-30, and held a slight 30-29 edge in ground balls.

Following a strong defensive stand to start the contest, Syracuse got on the board first as Palasek fired a pass from behind the cage up top to Eilers, who scored with a defender draped all over him for an early 1-0 lead.

Palasek and Eilers connected again midway through the first quarter to put SU up two, and Derek Maltz gave the Orange a 3-0 lead with another man-up goal at the 4:34 left in the period. Palasek notched his first goal of the game three minutes later when he lost a defender behind the cage and beat St. John’s goalie Jeff Lowman with a low shot.

SU extended its lead to 5-0 with 10:29 remaining in the second quarter as Tim Desko converted from five yards out. Palasek and Hakeem Lecky tacked on two more second-quarter goals to put SU up 7-0 heading into intermission.

The Orange continued to pour it on at the start of the second half as Luke Cometti scored a man-up goal just seven seconds into the third off a feed from Eilers.

Palasek finished with three goals and three assists. Eilers had another big game, contributing four points, and Wardwell finished with seven saves.

McArdle had two goals and two assists.

SU WOMEN FALL

The Syracuse women’s lacrosse team lost 13-7 to Loyola in the Big East championship game at the Carrier Dome.

SU (16-3), which had its school-record 15-game winning streak snapped, will still go to the NCAA Tournament, learning its postseason opponent later tonight.

Loyola improved to 13-5.

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