With Jim Boeheim and former crease attackman Stephen Keogh in attendance, SU lax had some big names on hand against Villanova on Sunday. Orange Nation was still hungover from a crushing end to the hoops team, and the Syracuse faithful could have used a little boost.
But Villanova hung on in a strong second half to win 11-10, and hand John Desko’s squad its first ever loss in the Big East. Sometimes, you can neither have your cake nor eat it. It was a rough weekend for the Orange all around, and SU lax falls to just 4-3 on the year. The Fizz presents its top 3 takeaways:
Megill: Time for Gut-Checks and Soul-Searching
Defender Brian Megill has been charged with leading this team as the lone defensive returning starter from last year. He was so frustrated with the loss to Johns Hopkins he told his teammates after the defeat it was time for a “gut check.” After the loss to ‘Nova, there was an obvious look of irritation on his face, and it wasn’t because of a specific weakness. Megill is clearly PO’d about the level of heart his team is playing with.
“Now is a time where we have a big work week ahead of us. We have to come out and do some real soul-searching as a team, as a whole. We came out of the locker room with no energy. Hats off to Villanova, they wanted it more than us today.”
Last week it was a gut check, this week it’s soul searching. However he phrases it, Megill is ready to run at the pace he of last year’s legendary defense, and he senses the rest of his squad isn’t. It’s obvious he’s fed up with this team’s compete level.
Derek Maltz leads the team in points because he’s incredibly fast and has a cannon of a shot. Sunday though, the crease man was completely pedestrian, contributing just an assist. It’s not all his fault. There was a dramatic change in SU’s offensive strategy, putting a clear emphasis on taking outside shots from 20-25 yards instead of setting up Maltz in the middle with a good look at the net.
When DM did get a pass, he lost the ball. Maltz seemed out of rhythm, a victim to the vicious ‘Nova defense. SU needs its star scorer to secure big wins, and Sunday he was all but absent.
The Changing Face of Syracuse Face-Offs
The dreadful performances at X thus far have costed SU valuable wins. We know the coaches are aware of the problem, and Sunday there were more obvious attempts to fix it. Desko on the face-off performance:
“Even with the stats the way they were, I think the face-off guys were getting the ball out to our space. I congratulate them on getting to those loose balls. We could have picked up a few more ground balls to change that stat, and we’re very frustrated with that.”
Here’s some refreshing news: one of the changes actually worked. By putting defender Matt Harris in on the wing, SU benefited from his physicality as he bullied Villanova middies out of the way to help SU win 9-of-14 first half battles.
Unfortunately, the 2nd half proved this is still a work in progress. SU was beat badly, winning just 2-of-11 in the last half.
The UVA loss hurt. Hopkins also hurt. Now this one hurts. Fortunately, SU has a week to turn things around before playing on yet another huge stage. Next weekend, Syracuse travels to Metlife to take on Duke in the Big City Classic.
Posted: Jake Moskowitz