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Walking Into the Blue Jays’ Nest: Syracuse Needs to Clean It Up vs. Hopkins

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If we can call Syracuse’s defeat last week to UVA a “good loss,” then let’s go ahead and mark this 9-8 win over St. John’s a “bad win.”

If not for Tim Desko’s empty net goal to break an 8-8 tie with 1:25 to go in the game, Syracuse could’ve been headed to face #2 Johns Hopkins following its first ever loss in the Big East.
Instead, the Orange packs its bags for Baltimore winners of the game, but losers in some key areas. There’s plenty to work on after the game against the Johnnies.
  • X Doesn’t Mark The Spot
John Desko told The Fizz last week that face offs were the top area in need of improvement thus far. After a frightening F/O performance against Virginia, the Orange continued the trend by winning only 8-of-21 at the X. On the season, SU has picked up only 34.3% of it’s face offs, and its best performance came against Albany where it went just 10-for-23.

To make matters worse, Syracuse’s best face off man was close defender Brian Megill.  The longstick Megill went 3-for-4 in his first attempts of the season. Chris Daddio and Ricky Buhr, SU’s designated face off specialists were outperformed by a defender who hadn’t seen time at X until Saturday.

Face offs are crucial in lacrosse and often translate to wins. When you play the type of game Syracuse plays, face-offs become unbelievably important. On offense, SU is a fast-paced pack of shooters that can be extremely dangerous, but only when they have the ball. Derek Maltz leads the team in goals (9), and he’s complimented by Tim Desko and Tommy Palasek, both snipers from the wings. When the attack can’t get a look, SU falls to its depth at midfield – highlighted by a returned Kevin Drew and co-captain Bobby Eilers. The midfield alone netted more than half of SU’s goals on Saturday. There is no shortage of talent on offense, but there is a shortage of possessions that needs to be addressed, fast.

Meanwhile, when the Orange is playing defense, it’s relying on one of SU’s youngest units ever. Logic dictates this team wants to keep the ball in its offensive zone. What does Syracuse take away from this one, Coach?
“I think the guys are going to learn a lot from seeing their mistakes on the field.  We talked to them after the game, and said ‘Hey, we’ve got to be immensely prepared to play every game that we play’, and, you know, we can’t have let-downs coming off the Virginia loss, and we’ve got to be prepared to play anybody that we play.”
Sounds like Desko was hinting at the idea that the team might have taken the Johnnies a little too lightly. This won’t be an option against the undefeated Blue Jays, who pack a host of playmakers, including ones that can win face offs. In fact, Hopkins has gathered an impressive 60% of their battles on the season. That’s better than #1 Virginia and #4 Maryland. It’ll be far from easy, if not impossible, for Syracuse to beat Hopkins without winning at X.
  • Netminder Nonsense
Another game down, another week without a decision in net. Once again, Matt Lerman and Dom Lamolinara split time in goal 50/50.

The woes of switching goalies midway through games have spelled themselves out on the field for the Orange, yet nothing has changed in the game plan. The only glimmer of hope for Syracuse fans looking for an answer came last week when Desko gave Lerman 45 minutes to Lamolinara’s 15. However, that move exposed an even bigger concern: is either goalie ready to play a full 60 minutes when the time comes? Will Syracuse’s starters get used to only playing half a game? These are not questions a top 10 team with championship ambitions typically asks going into its fifth game of the year against the #2 team in the country.

That said, both goalies held their own by the numbers. Against the Storm, both allowed 4 goals, but Lerman made 6 saves to Lamolinara’s 2. Lamolinara was a perfect 8-for-8 clearing the ball, while ML was right behind him, clearing 13-of-14.

As SU preps for its 2nd toughest matchup so far, it lacks in possessions and consistency at goaltender. To add insult to injury, UMass pulled ahead of Syracuse in the standings. If not for any other reason, Syracuse needs to beat Hopkins so that it won’t be outranked by a team in the CAA.

Posted: Jake Moskowitz

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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