SYRACUSE,NY-- Fresh off of a heartbreaking overtime loss to Wichita last Saturday, the Syracuse Silver Knights earned their fourth win of the season by defeating the Missouri Comets at the OnCenter War Memorial, 18-8, on Friday night.
In easily their strongest outing of the season, the Knights dominated the second-place Comets with an electric performance in front of 3,376 spirited fans.
Sitting in the fifth spot of the MISL standings, Syracuse found itself in what many would argue to be a must-win situation nearing the mid-way point of the season. Facing a perennial MISL powerhouse in the Comets, Tommy Tanner??s side came out with a definite purpose to defend their own end and build transition offense out of the back.
After the two sides exchanged tallies early in the first quarter, the Knights?? power-play got the chance to give Syracuse the lead when Vahid Assadpour was shown a blue-card with three minutes left in the opening frame. Nelson Santana, one of the league??s best playmaking defenders, sent a delicate cross over three Missouri penalty-killers and past an outstretched Boris Pardo in goal that perfectly greeted the head of Syracuse??s leading scorer, Neto, for his 13th goal of the season.
Neto??s beautiful goal to end the first quarter was a sign of things to come for the Knights, and Andriy Budnyy, who set up Perez for the first goal of the game, netted a pair of transition fast-break goals to put his team in front 8-2, five minutes into the second quarter. The two teams quickly exchanged goals as Jamar Beasley scored for Syracuse, bringing the game to 10-4.
Tempers began to flare on both sides when Neto was ripped down from behind on a breakaway chance late in the quarter, and Syracuse was awarded with a penalty shot. Pardo came out to stifle Neto??s side-foot effort on the penalty, but the Brazilian striker was given another golden opportunity when Bryan Perez slid a floating cross over the defense on the ensuing power-play. Neto met Perez??s cross for his second power-play header of the game and his team-leading 14th goal of the year, giving Syracuse a 12-4 lead going into the break.
After tempers flared for a second time when the two teams headed off the field to end the half, the Syracuse faithful gave their team a rousing ovation as they took the field for the third quarter. Slavisa Ubiparapovic added to the electric atmosphere by extending the Syracuse lead on a dazzling individual effort early in the quarter, but it was goalkeeper Bryan O??Quinn that sent the War Memorial into pandemonium.
Assadpour answered Ubiparapivic??s goal with a tally of his own just seconds later, but Syracuse wound up on a power-play for the third time when Missouri??s Brian Harris was shown the blue-card for holding.
Missouri went on the attack despite being a man-down, and Bryan O??Quinn was faced with a two-man rush against the MISL??s second-leading scorer in Byron Alvarez. In what wound up as the most spectacular series of events that Syracuse fans have seen to date, O??Quinn fought off five consecutive door-step opportunities with sprawling saves, before sending a full-field ball to Jamar Beasley who unselfishly slid it across to fellow new-signing, Bryan Perez, for the power-play goal.
After facing a quiet first-half, O??Quinn continued to give Syracuse fans more than they paid for as he went on to stop an additional six saves against a Missouri offensive onslaught, bringing his third-quarter save total to a remarkable 11.
Missouri did manage to pull a goal back when Alvarez converted one of Missouri??s several third quarter chances, but Andriy Budnyy restored Syracuse??s ten-point lead by redirecting a cross from Perez with his chest to complete his hat-trick with :40 left in the third.
Missouri did test O??Quinn with several fourth quarter chances, but failed to score in the final frame as Syracuse controlled possession in front of a deafening crowd. O??Quinn finished the game with a whopping 25 saves and just four goals against, continuing his MVP first half of the season for Syracuse. The Knights held on to the 18-8 lead for their fourth win of the season, but the squad will face another test when the travel to Rochester to take on the Lancers next Saturday night.
Syracuse will return home on Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 22, at 7:00 p.m. to battle the MISL??s defending champion, the Milwaukee Wave, in what is being dubbed as "Knock out the Champs Night."
Courtesy: Syracuse Silver Knights