Syracuse upsets No. 1 Florida

Updated: May 26, 2012, 4:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Sarah Holden scored her fourth goal with 2:02 remaining in double overtime and No. 4 Syracuse upset top-seeded Florida on Friday, 14-13, to advance to its first women's lacrosse national championship game.

Holden netted the winner by making a move from up top and buried a bounce shot by Florida goaltender Misty Meagher.

"It actually was kind of slow motion," Holden said. "I remember specifically the first play of the game when we were in our set offense, and I went low and the goalie made a save.

"I was 100 percent certain that would not happen to me again. So, I just did a split dodge (move), buried it and it went in."

Syracuse overcame a pair of seven-goal deficits. The final goal completed the second-largest comeback in NCAA Division I tournament history. In the 2007 semifinals, Duke blew a nine-goal lead against Virginia, which scored the final 10.

The win gave Syracuse its first victory against a top-ranked team in 16 tries.

"We just didn't give up," Syracuse coach Gary Gait said. "We fought to the very end, and did whatever it took to get the job done. Sometimes, it takes a lucky bounce here or there, but we just kept getting them."

Michelle Tumolo and Alyssa Murray added three goals apiece for the Orange (19-3), who will face Northwestern on Sunday night.

"I think it's been our whole motto this year," Tumolo said. "We look at each other in the eyes, and we don't give up. We had each other's back. Each one of these girls looked me in the eye and said, 'we are not going to lose this game no matter what happens.' "

Shannon Gilroy scored five goals for Florida (19-3), which failed to become the first program in its third year of existence to reach the championship game. Brittany Dashiell added four goals for the Gators, who blew leads of 11-4 and 12-5.

Florida appeared to have won with nine seconds remaining in the first overtime but Gabi Wiegand's low shot was disallowed when officials ruled she was using an illegal stick.

"We were obviously elated," Florida coach Amanda O'Leary said. "It was a great play we set up. Unfortunately, stick checks are part of the game and they found it was illegal."

The illegal stick was brought to the attention of the officials by Murray, who was the closest Syracuse player to any official.

"If it's the winning goal or the tying goal, you just want to make sure if there's anything you can do to call it back," Murray said. "We're fighting for our lives out there."

Backup goaltender Kelsey Richardson made four saves after replacing Alyssa Costantino in the second half. Among Richardson's saves included key stops on Gilroy and Dashiell as the Orange were starting their comeback.

The Gators held their second seven-goal lead after Dashiell scored with 17:15 remaining. Syracuse answered with three straight goals in a span of 3:49 and was within 12-8 on Murray's goal at 7:49.

Florida scored its last goal when Gilroy beat Richardson with 7:19 left, but less than a minute later, Holden scored the first of five straight goals for Syracuse. Among them was the tying goal when she moved in on Meagher and scored on a low shot from the center hash mark.

"The game is never over," Gilroy said, "until the buzzer goes off."

Northwestern 9, Maryland 7

Taylor Thornton scored twice, including the game-winning goal with 16:19 remaining, and second-seeded Northwestern advanced to the NCAA women's lacrosse championship game.

Shannon Smith took one shot on goal but had four assists. She set up goals by Alex Frank, Jessica Russo, Kara Mupo and Lacey Vigmostad.

"Obviously, we're extremely excited about the win tonight against a phenomenal Maryland team," Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said.

"I think that our girls played with a lot of heart and poise. They didn't get down when we got down and we could not be more excited to be in another championship game."

Erin Fitzgerald and Amanda Macaluso also scored for Northwestern (20-2), which will face fourth-seeded Syracuse for its seventh title in eight years. The Orange advanced with a double-overtime victory over top-seeded Florida in the first semifinal.

Katie Schwarzmann scored three goals for Maryland (19-4), which lost to the Wildcats in last year's championship game. Last year, the Terrapins lost to the Wildcats after opening a three-goal lead after they held a slim two-goal margin early in the second half before struggling to maintain possession.

"Draws were really important," Schwarzmann said. "They did a great job of coming up with those and really maintaining possession when they had the ball. I think we came out there and tried to fight for those. We could have done a better job, obviously, but when we had possession, we had a few too many turnovers. We just couldn't do what we needed to do."

Kristy Black, Karri Ellen Johnson, Kelly McPartland and Brooke Griffin also scored for Maryland, which had won eight straight games.

The game-winner occurred when Thornton made it 8-6 by getting past a defender and going up the middle to beat Maryland goaltender Brittany Dipper for her 31st goal of the season.

"In the second half for us, I think the main difference was draws," Terrapins coach Cathy Reese said. "We couldn't get possession and we were doing a better job of that in the first half and just couldn't seem to knock it free in the second.

"The one thing that we should have done a better job of was finishing the opportunities that we had. We had great looks at goals, we really did. We didn't finish up."

The second-half comeback was fueled by dominating possession. Northwestern won seven of eight draw controls in the half and 13 of 18 overall.

"For me, personally, we've been in that position so many times this year," Smith said. "I knew it was going to come down to getting the draw control. We were running fine on offense. We were very patient looking for the open cutters and I think every person on the offensive end did a phenomenal job with cutting, keeping their defenders busy and allowing our offense to move.

"I never once felt rattled because we've been there so many times," Amonte Hillier said. "I think that's a testament to how resilient this team is."

The Wildcats have won 40 of 59 draw controls since losing 18 of 23 three weeks ago against Florida.

"We knew draw controls were going to be a big key point for this game," Thornton said.

The Terrapins overcame a one-goal deficit midway through the first half and took a 5-4 lead into halftime on Johnson's 54th goal of the season.

Schwarzmann gave the Terrapins a two-goal lead less than three minutes into the second half, but Northwestern tied it on goals by Mupo and Macaluso 49 seconds apart.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.