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Maltz’s goal with 19.2 seconds left puts SU lacrosse into NCAA final

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PHILADELPHIA — Derek Maltz scored with 19.2 seconds left to give Syracuse a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Denver in the NCAA lacrosse semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

“It’s our 10th one-goal game, and unfortunately, I’m almost getting used to it,” Orange coach John Desko said. “I think these guys did a terrific job of keeping their composure at the end of the game,”

Syracuse advances to Monday’s championship game against Duke, another perennial lacrosse power. The Blue Devils beat Cornell 16-14 in the other semifinal. It’s the first time two programs will meet for the title. They have combined for 21 appearances in the NCAA championship and have 12 titles between them.

The Orange (16-3), who will play in their first final since 2009, didn’t lead until Maltz scored.

Denver (14-5) got out to a 3-0 lead, and led by 4-1 and 5-2 in the first half. The Pioneers entered the fourth quarter holding a 7-4 edge.

With 2:42 to play, Denver’s Eric Law and Carson Cannon each drew 30-second pushing penalties, giving Syracuse a two-man advantage. JoJo Marasco scored the first of their three goals with 2:35 left, setting the stage Luke Cometti’s tying goal with 59 seconds left, then Maltz.

“I happened to be at the right spot at the right time,” Maltz said. “JoJo took the ball right to the cage and the ball trickled off the goalie’s chest. I’m thankful the ball landed in the back of the net and we’re moving on to Monday.”

The Pioneers’ Chase Carraro won the faceoff and Denver coach Bill Tierney called a timeout with seven seconds left, but the Pioneers couldn’t get a last shot off.

Ryan LaPlante made 13 saves for Denver in the first half, while giving up just two goals. Regardless, Tierney stuck with what he had been doing throughout the season, rotating goalies and replacing LaPlante with Jamie Faus, who allowed seven goals on 11 shots in the second half.

“This is what we’ve done all year, and none of those goals were Jamie’s fault,” Tierney said. “Jamie’s our closer, and he’s done a great job all year. We unfortunately didn’t cover up the rebound. I didn’t know heading out on the field after halftime how many saves Ryan had. I didn’t think much about it.”

Cometti led Syracuse with three goals, while Maltz and Marasco had two each. Law led Denver with three goals and second-leading scorer Wesley Berg was held without a shot.

Duke 16, Cornell 14

David Lawson scored the winning goal with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter to lift Duke past Cornell in the earlier semifinal.

Duke (15-5) advances to Monday’s championship to play the winner of the other semifinal between Syracuse and Denver.

The Blue Devils are in the finals for the first time since 2010, when they won their only national championship.

Cornell’s Rob Pannell became the NCAA Division I career scoring leader with five goals and two assists to give him 354 career points, passing the mark held by former Duke star Matt Danowski.

Duke broke open what had been a close game by outscoring Cornell (14-6) 7-1 in the third quarter to wipe out a 5-2 deficit.

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