NCAA Lacrosse: Syracuse Sneaks by Yale, Punches Ticket to Final 4

D HoldingCorrespondent IIIMay 19, 2013

It was not easy for top seed Syracuse to advance to the Final Four, but in this stage of the tournament, a win is a win. 

Syracuse needed three goals in the final few minutes of the game to rally from behind to defeat a talented Yale squad on Saturday in College Park, Maryland.

Going into the game, Syracuse knew that it would have its hands full with Yale. The Bulldogs were playing great late in the season, capping it off with a huge Ivy League Tournament run to gain the automatic qualifier to the NCAA bracket.

Yale was tremendous on faceoffs Saturday against the Orange. Dylan Levings controlled the draws with ease for much of the game, proving that he's earned his reputation as one of the best men at his position in the country. His ability to win the draws to himself sparked the Bulldogs early and allowed for transition opportunities from the midfield.

In addition to stellar faceoff play, Yale goaltender Eric Natale made 11 impressive saves on his way to a 60 percent save rate. Natale made seven of his 11 saves in the first half, which certainly helped his team jump out to a lead.

For Syracuse, Dom Lamolinara recorded nine saves of his own and also reached the 60 percent plateau in between the pipes.

Although offensively challenged for much of the game, JoJo Marasco sparked the Orange offense with his speed and vision. He finished with a goal and two assists, including an assist to Dylan Donahue with 13 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter. Donahue also finished with a goal and two assists, continuing his habit of being clutch late in games.

For Yale, Brandon Mangan finished with three goals, while Conrad Oberbeck finished with two. Mangan was dynamic in his dodging ability, and his strength and use of his body to shield defenders was outright impressive.

Yale had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but a late shot narrowly missed the cage, dashing the Bulldogs' hopes of overtime. Yale finishes the season at 12-5, while Syracuse improves to 15-3.

Looking ahead, Syracuse will face the winner of the Denver-UNC matchup in the semifinals next weekend in Philadelphia. 

Stay tuned to the Bleacher Report for continuing coverage of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.