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The Best Moment in My Life.
Before I get started, I should properly give you a bit of background.
As far back as I can remember, I have loved Syracuse Lacrosse.
I loved them when the Powells dominated in the late 90's and early 2000's.
I loved them when Brett Bucktooth and company awkwardly tried to fill the huge void that the Powells left.
I even loved them in 2007 when they missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1970's.
I like music.
I really like football.
I love Syracuse Lacrosse.
And I'm probably not alone.
See, the Syracuse Lacrosse program is the premiere franchise in collegiate lacrosse. They revolutionized the game in the 90's, bringing a fast-paced, run and gun, blue collar style to a mostly slow and outdated league. Syracuse has more NCAA Championships than any other school in the country (11), and despite being around since 1914, they are only on their fourth head coach.
Now you're caught up.
Every time that Syracuse has been in the final four since 1998, I have been there. I have personally witnessed 'Cuse win 6 national titles. But my favorite came in 2009.
Syracuse was heavily favored against the Cornell's Big Red in the 2009 championship. The game was being held at Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL's New England Patriots.
Well... Being heavily favored didn't help.
The Orange found themselves down by three late in the fourth quarter. The small Cornell crowd (who were seated directly in front of us) compensated for their size with noise and passion. They were wild, loud, and prepared to celebrate their first national championship win since 1977.
I was sullen, a little concerned, but I didn't give up, I didn't lose hope.
And soon, my faith was rewarded.
Two quick goals from attackmen Stephen Keogh and Cody Jamieson made it 9-8 Cornell with 2:46 left.
There was plenty of time for my Orange to score, this is what Syracuse does.
With 28 seconds left, Keogh failed to catch a pass from attackman Kenny Nims on the crease, and lost possession... It looked hopeless.
Even at this point, I lost hope. The strip of Cornell fans were already going off, and the rest of the stadium was completely silent.
Max Seibald, the superstar midfielder for Cornell, passed the ball to Matt Moyer, a Cornell defender, and he began to clear.
Then it happened.
Kenny Nims dove after Moyer with a flying check, knocking the ball from his stick. At that point, Stephen Keogh picked up the ground ball, flipped it behind his back to midfielder Matt Abbot, who managed to flip it behind his back despite being tackled by two Cornell defenders. The ball bounced off the tip of a Cornell stick and found its way into Nims' head who dove along the crease and shot...
He scored with 3.5 seconds left to tie the game.
Overtime and the following Cody Jamieson goal were merely a technicality.
As Nims dove and I saw the net ripple, I dropped to my knees and fought back tears, the stadium erupted into chaos, the Syracuse bench came back to life.
i swear, if you watch the film, even some of the Cornell players applauded.
It was insane.
Some day, maybe on a wedding (hopefully my first and last), or the birth of my first child (hopefully the first of many), it won't be the best anymore... But for now?
Watching Kenny Nims deliver Syracuse it's 11th National Championship still gives me goosebumps.