It took 17 years, but Army finally pulled it off.
The U.S. Military Academy stunned No. 2 defending national champion Syracuse on Sunday night, earning a 9-8 victory in double-overtime of the first round of the NCAA tournament. It was the first NCAA tournament win for Army since 1993 and was the first loss for Syracuse at the Carrier Dome since 2007.
Army fell behind early, 3-1, but clawed back to eventually tie the game in the fourth quarter at 8-8 on goals from Garrett Thul and Jeremy Boltus. Lynch wove his way to the net with under 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime, taking a pass from Rob McCallion to end the night and send Army onward.
“I’m surprised we were that dominant in the middle,” Army head coach Joe Alberici said.
One of the biggest challenges facing the cadets in the tournament — and during the regular season — was winning face-offs, something they only did 39 percent of the time this season. Things were different on Sunday in a nationally televised showdown on ESPNU.
“Our face-off ability today allowed our defense to not have to play so much,” Alberici said.
Thul, a 6-foot-4 freshman, again came up clutch with several goals; he leads Army in scoring this season with 40 tallies.
Army will face Cornell next Sunday at noon in Stonybrook, NY in the NCAA’s quarterfinals round. The cadets will be working overtime on Sunday — the USMA graduation is Saturday at Michie Stadium, with President Obama scheduled to speak.