FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Long after his teammates headed to the locker room to celebrate, Syracuse attackman Mike Leveille remained on the Gillette Stadium turf, clutching a piece of the net someone had cut for him as a memento.
The senior ran along the edge of the stands, exchanging hugs, kisses and high fives with anyone who would return the favor.
"I don't want to leave the field," Leveille said. "I don't want this to end."
Leveille, who was named the tournament's most outstanding player, scored his 49th goal of the season yesterday, helping Syracuse defeat Johns Hopkins, 13-10, to claim the NCAA men's lacrosse championship before a crowd of 48,970.
The Orange have won 10 titles, a record. Perhaps just as important to Leveille, the senior class finally could forget the disastrous campaign of a year ago.
Last season, Syracuse finished 5-8 and missed the postseason. For a school with such a rich lacrosse history, it was a grim performance. Equally troubling to the Orange seniors was that none of them had won a championship.
"We have such a great tradition here, and we didn't want to be the group that didn't get a title," Leveille said. "When you're recruited to come here, you're recruited to win a national championship. Last year, we hit an all-time low. For the seniors, this is an all-time high."
Early on, though, it looked as if the Blue Jays (11-6) might grab the trophy. The defending champions came in with an eight-game winning streak and jumped out to an early lead thanks to two first-quarter goals by Paul Rabil. The midfielder finished with a career high of six goals - the second most in title-game history.
Johns Hopkins goalie Michael Gvozden recorded an astounding total of 20 saves, the most in a championship game since 1995.
Despite all that, Syracuse (16-2) slowly worked its way back. After Haverford School product Kyle Wharton scored to put Johns Hopkins up by 5-3, the Orange went on a 5-0 run and never trailed again.
Dan Hardy led Syracuse with three goals, while Brendan Loftus, Kenny Nims and Stephen Keogh found the back of the net twice each.
Although they are the sport's most storied teams, combining for a remarkable total of 19 championships, neither the Orange nor the Blue Jays expected to be in this year's final.
Fourth-seeded Johns Hopkins got off to a 3-5 start, then had to knock off heavily favored, top-ranked Duke in the semifinals. Syracuse also had to pull off a final-four upset, besting second-seeded Virginia in double overtime.
It had been 19 years since Syracuse and Johns Hopkins played for the championship, in a game the Orange won, 13-12. Syracuse owns a 3-2 edge in title-game meetings between the schools.