Gary Gait and company hit the road for their regular season finale on Saturday bound for Chapel Hill. Syracuse looks to keep its season alive with a win as at 4-7 a loss would all but eliminate the Orange from postseason play. SU hasn’t suffered a losing season since 2007 but that history is dangerously close to being repeated if #15 North Carolina defends its home turf. Here are three things that the ‘Cuse must do to win tomorrow afternoon:
1. Cause Turnovers
Syracuse loves to send exotic pressures and double team opposing players. This should be the strategy against UNC because its offense is one-dimensional and revolves entirely around one player. The key here though is causing the actual turnovers that Dave Pietremala is game planning for.
Against teams like Notre Dame and Cornell, this pressure defense strategy failed because the Fighting Irish and Big Red recognized the blitz and would the move accordingly. If Syracuse double teams, it must get the ball on the ground and make the gamble pay off.
2. Limit Chris Gray
One of the best college lacrosse players ever is the heart and soul of this North Carolina squad. The former Boston Terrier leads the team far and away in every offensive category and at times has to carry the entire Tar Heel team on his back. UNC doesn’t really have any threatening scoring options outside of its playmaking attacker.
In the Dome last year, Gray had six assists which was really the difference in the game. Can SU limit his ability to create offense for others? If so then things bode well for the Orange.
3. Receive a third offensive contribution
In a similar way that Gray leads North Carolina, Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry are the pioneers for Syracuse. The duo leads the team in goals and points and shoulder a big responsibility each time they take the field. Who steps up in the third spot?
Is it Lucas Quinn who might be back from injury? Is it Owen Seebold who is 3rd on the team in goals and points? Or could it be Jackson Birthwhistle, a redshirt-freshman midfielder. Whoever it is, SU needs production from a third offensive player, the smart money should be on Seebold in this game. Odds are the Texan will get matched up with the weakest pole on an already average UNC defense.