As the season nears an end, playoff games have been far from disappointing. The top ranked Herriman Mustangs took on the Syracuse Titans Wednesday, and the match-up proved to be one of the most exciting of the season. Herriman came in to the match the clear favorite, but from the opening face-off, the Titans showed that they were ready to play at the playoff level. Their dominance and sheer determination led them to a 12-8 victory over Herriman.
For Herriman and Syracuse to be matching up in a semifinal game is a huge accomplishment for each program. Herriman is in their third year as a team, while Syracuse is only in their second. Despite their youth as teams, both have become powerhouses, each ranking in the Top 5 in the state. Both teams are armed with some of the top players in the state, including MVP goalie Wyatt Katsos and MVP attackman Chantz Roberts playing for Herriman and MVP face-off specialist Connor Meyer for Syracuse. Between the two teams there were 9 All-State players on the field.
“I knew going in that it was going to be a tough game,” said Syracuse Head Coach Jay Meyer. “The face-off worked well. There were two all-state players facing off, so we were excited to come out on top there.”
The Titans did, indeed, come out on top of face-offs throughout the game. Connor Meyer had a spectacular game on face-offs, winning all but a few. Syracuse opened the scoring just a few minutes into the game on a high bounce goal by midfielder Logan Chapman. By the end of the first, Herriman answered back with a goal from two of their all-state players, Chantz Roberts and Ben Richard.
“Defense was phenomenal, just great defense,” continued Meyer. “They have worked hard all year and they really showed up. Our goalie played well. After a couple adjustments after the first quarter, I felt like we could go with these guys.”
The adjustments made after the first seemed to do the trick for Syracuse. In the first half of the second quarter, Syracuse went on a three-goal streak, putting them back ahead. Roberts scored one for Herriman to kill the short run. Both teams scored once more to put Syracuse up 5-4 at the half.
Up to this point, Syracuse had done a great job of controlling the ball. Herriman, on the other hand, had trouble completing passes. As the third began, Herriman came out with a renewed ambition to take this game. With his toes at the crease, Roberts scored again on the Mustang’s first shot of the quarter to tie up the game at five. Chapman quickly answered back for Syracuse to reclaim the lead. Herriman again scored to tie the game.
Syracuse would have no more of the back-and-forth. They began a four point run to end the quarter. Meyer scored three of the goals, while Jordan Stark picked up the other.
In what appeared to be a turn of events, Herriman midfielder Ben Richard won the face-off. Herriman scored the first goal and Richard again won the face-off. Herriman was fighting hard to come back from behind. This dream was again shattered when Stark scored two more goals for Syracuse. Despite fighting hard for every possession, Herriman was only able to score once more, leaving them short. Syracuse will head to their first championship game with the 12-8 win.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. All the hard work, being able to get this far as a second-year program, we are all pretty excited,” commented Coach Meyer.
Connor Meyer, along with an incredible performance on face-off, scored four goals for the Titans, clearly they key player in the win. All-state award winner Jordan Stark supplemented Meyer’s star performance with four goals of his own. Logan Chapman ended with two goals and an assist.
The Titans will go head to head against the Waterford Ravens on Saturday for the D-II title. Waterford is no stranger to the championship match. In fact, Waterford has made it to the final game more than any other team in the state and own three wins and five runner-up spots, including a runner-up finish last season.
Syracuse and Waterford have met already this season at the end of April. It was a very close game and Syracuse came out with the 7-5 win. Read the recap of the game to get a feel for how the teams match up. You can find it here.
In anticipation of the upcoming game, Meyer concluded, “We have played Waterford before and we match up better against Waterford than Skyline, so we are excited to play them. We know that they had one of their starters out for the first half of the last game, but we will be ready for them. We will be ready for them.”