FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Like so many lacrosse players before him, Mike Leveille went to Syracuse for the chance to win a title.
And, like so many of his predecessors, he had to beat Johns Hopkins to do it.
Syracuse defeated Hopkins, 13-10, in the NCAA final yesterday in front of a record 48,970, dethroning the defending national champions and becoming the first school to win its 10th men's lacrosse title. The Orange improved to 3-2 in championship games against Johns Hopkins.
"When you get recruited at Syracuse, you're going there to win a national championship," said Leveille, who was voted the NCAA tournament's most outstanding player. "It's certainly been an up-and-down road for the seniors. But we hung in there. This is the best ending possible."
It was Syracuse's fourth championship this decade but first since 2004. Last year, when three players were suspended for off-field behavior, the Orange finished 3-8 and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1982.
The '83 Syracuse team, which was honored at halftime on the 25th anniversary of its title, is the only other team to win the lacrosse championship a year after missing the tournament entirely.
"There were a lot of people doubting us as a team," Syracuse midfielder Dan Hardy, who scored three goals, said while wearing a swatch cut from the net hanging from his championship hat.
Freshman John Galloway stopped seven shots for the Orange. Brendan Loftus and Kenny Nims had two goals apiece and Leveille, who had five goals in the semifinal win over Virginia, had a goal and two assists.
Loftus and Leveille scored 10 seconds apart midway through the fourth quarter as Syracuse scored four straight goals to turn a 9-8 edge into a 13-8 cushion.