Last week the No. 1 Syracuse Orange were a bit rusty in their scrimmages against Hofstra and LeMoyne. They split the difference and Coach Desko was less-than-thrilled with the team's defensive speed and offensive output.
Thursday, the Orange had a chance to keep at it with scrimmages against Canisius and No. 4 Maryland. This time the Orange won both games and looked much-improved, to the delight of Sir Desko.
Tied heading into the final period, the Orange mounted a comeback to edge Maryland 11-9. It was a win that featured a few exciting goals:
SU used a couple of razzle-dazzle goals to pull ahead for keeps in an evenly played back-and-forth contest. Senior longstick midfielder Joel White scored the first one when he took a pass in the Maryland box and faked a pass to his right, drawing his defender away from him and allowing him to whip a hard right-handed shot high into the net for a 9-8 SU lead with 9 minutes, 37 seconds to play. Sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco did White one better three minutes later when he whipped home a behind-the-back shot from a tough angle following a hard drive down the left alley to make it 10-8.
Tim Desko and Stephen Keogh finished with three goals while Marasco added two goals and two assists.
Because so many starters played in the Maryland scrimmage, the bench took the lead against Canisius later in the day. Junior Collin Donahue led the Orange with four points, including a team-best three assists, in their 10-6 win over the Griffs.
The day left John Desko feeling a whole lot better about the team than he had before.
"I think the offense executed much better," SU coach John Desko said. "I think we still need to improve on our shooting a little bit. I thought we could have been a little more accurate with it, but the execution was good and the movement was good. I feel a lot better about it.
"I think the fact that we kept the first group out there pretty much the whole game let us get into a rhythm. We kind of ran one offense and one set of plays, kept it simple and tried to make one thing work well."
Syracuse opens the 2011 regular season at home on Sunday, Feb. 20 against the No. 12 Denver Pioneers at 1 p.m. Get your ropes in rippin' condition.
Meanwhile, the women's team is looking to play for its third Final Four in four years. But just like the men, they're going to have to run one doozy of a schedule if they want to maintain their status among the sport's elite.
After opening the season at Colgate on Friday, the Orange travels to Stanford, then hosts Virginia before beginning a grueling six-game road trip.
That stretch starts off against Maryland, the 2010 national champion and the team that bounced Syracuse from the Final Four last year. After that, the team travels to Towson, Florida, Northwestern and Rutgers.
In all, the No. 5 Orange are looking at a schedule that includes No. 14 Stanford, No. 7 Virginia, No. 1 Maryland, No. 15 Towson, No. 2 Northwestern, No. 12(T) Dartmouth, No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 6 Georgetown and No. 12(T) Loyola. Good luck with allllllll that, Gary.