Faceoffs? Don't talk about faceoffs.
How about we talk about Syracuse winning four faceoffs the entire game and still finding ways to beat No. 3 Johns Hopkins. Syracuse went to the National Championship game last year with a .420 faceoff winning percentage. At this moment the Orange are sporting a .395 win percentage. I mean, they won't be last in the NCAA when the national stats come out Monday, but they won't be far. Nevertheless, if you play a game like SU did today, faceoffs won't be as big of a factor as they have been in previous games this year. Saturday the Orange played like they did last year, losing most of the faceoff battles, but using just about every other way possible to win the game. If you missed the game after a long night of post-Syracuse basketball depression, it can be found as a replay on espn3.com.
Today's game featured back and forth scoring runs. Every stretch dominated by Hopkins featured bad mistakes from Syracuse. These mistakes were highlighted by a Ryan Brown half-field, open net goal on a quick restart. The Orange were able to overcome those mistakes and get some much needed offense. Shots were about even for both teams with Hopkins getting the slight edge 34-30. The Blue Jays, who have had the majority of their goals come from the crease, were able to beat the Orange with long snipe shots. The JHU attack that has had such an explosive season continued that trend today with 11 points. Ryan Brown outshined his line mates though, going off for 8 goals. Brown has 39 points on the year. However, Syracuse did hold Wells Stanwick to just 2 assists, bringing his season total to 22.
Hopkins made use of Syracuse's two penalties, going 2-2 on man-up opportunities. The two SU penalties were questionable at best. The second, a delay of game penalty on Kevin Rice after he dropped the ball on a crease violation call, pretty much miffed everyone on the SU sideline. In the groundball game, the Orange kept up for most of the game but lost out 25-18, mostly from faceoff groundballs. While SU went 18-21 on clears, the 3 turnovers ended up being costly as Hopkins was able to take advantage.
Syracuse's offense had an excellent balance to it today. The Orange spread out the scoring and had great ball movement. Midfielders Scott Loy and Billy Ward had big games. Loy put up 2 goals and 1 assist. He is a smart player who recognizes opportunities on offense, like he did when he scored off of a bad Hopkins substitution. Ward had his sixth and seventh goals of the season and added 2 assists.
Johns Hopkins close defender Jack Reilly held the responsibility of covering Dylan Donahue today, and while he played Donahue close for the most part, Dylan netted 3 goals and 1 assist.
Replacing the injured Randy Staats for the second game, Derek Maltz had back-to-back assists early in the game. Younger brother, Dylan Maltz also had a goal, and a beautiful one at that. We should see continued playing time for Dylan who in two games played has 2 points. Meanwhile, Hopkins held Hakeem Lecky pointless by putting a long-pole on him the entire game. The frustration showed through towards the end of the game with the red shirt junior native forcing several poor shots.
Dom Lamolinara has had a very good season and he didn't stop on Saturday. Although the senior had a few miscues outside of the crease, he totaled 11 saves on 21 shots on goal. On the other side, freshman Eric Schneider made 7 saves, including several spectacular ones.
On Hopkins' first possession the referees turned the timer on. Just like they had done all year, the Blue Jays had good ball movement and Wells Stanwick on the goal line extended hit Ryan Brown who found a seem on the crease and put it away for an easy tally, 1-0 JHU. Hopkins would not lead the game again.
Syracuse bounced back however. At 7:47 into the game, Kevin Rice dodged from X, Jack Reilly lost his footing and Rice rolled up the crease and beat Schneider to tie the game at one all. It took several minutes for the next goal. During an unsettled situation off of a bad substitution, Scott Loy found himself coming into the game without a defender. Derek Maltz sent him the pass and had no one between him and the goal and he goes high while Eric Schneider went low, 2-1 Cuse. The three-goal run finished up with Derek Maltz sending a pass inside to Dylan Donahue who rocketed a side arm into the net, 3-1 Cuse.
The Blue Jays and Orange went on to trade goals. Ryan Brown picked up his second goal of the day less than a minute into the second period. A holding call on Syracuse put JHU on the man-up and after a few outside passes, Brown got fed for a side arm shot into the cage opposite side, 3-2 Cuse. Billy Ward was next up. Donahue from behind sent it up to the wing where Ward took a nice set shot to make it 4-2 Cuse. Off the ensuing faceoff however, LSM Nick Fields picked up the groundball, sprinted downfield and put it low on Lamolinara, 4-3 Cuse. Don't tell me faceoffs don't matter.
Syracuse finished off the half with another three straight run. Kevin Rice had a good opportunity with an off foot jumper but Schneider stoned him on a nice save. Syracuse backed up the shot and got it to Scott Loy who dodged from the side and scored, 5-3 Cuse. Dylan Maltz put away the fifth SU goal. Off of the restart, the younger Maltz brother dodged from behind, spun on the goal line, and while getting pushed down from behind managed to put it above Schneider, 6-3 Cuse. Henry Schoonmaker had a quiet day overall, but managed the last goal of the first half. Freshman, short-stick midfielder Joe Carlini got bullied by Schoonmaker as he forced his way down from the side of the box towards the goal and snuck one in, 7-3 Cuse.
Ryan Brown had himself quite a game today with 8 goals, one short of the Hopkins single game record. Brown burned the defense over and over again. Entering the second half, Hopkins found themselves down by 4 to the visitors. Brown put away three straight to bring the Jays to within one, 7-6 Syracuse lead. The first of the run was a deep, one-hop goal, followed up less than a minute by a dodge up the side of the crease. After the second of the half, Syracuse finally got a possession. Unfortunately Kevin Rice slipped into the crease, causing the violation and turnover. He dropped the ball on the ground and was given a delay of game penalty. It was a very poor call by the refs. On the subsequent man-up Brown rifled one high on Dom for his fifth of the game.
With Syracuse looking like they might be crumbling under the pressure, Hakeem Lecky, who had been tied up with a long-pole all day, tried to step up. He dodged from the wing and shoveled it towards the net while falling into the crease, but Schneider had the ball locked up and Hopkins recovered on the crease violation.
Things did not look good for SU. They had given up a their lead, given up 5 goals and 3 straight goals to begin the second half to Brown who appeared to be taking over the game, and at this point the SU mistakes were starting to pile up. When you are losing every possession off of the f/o you cannot afford to give up turnovers on stupid mistakes.
The Cuse finally slowed down the game, gained a possession and tried to find an opening in the defense. Scott Loy caught a pass, the defender slid to him to early, Loy recognized this, and sent a skip pass, cross field to Billy Ward. Ward had all the time in the world to set up and take a wide open shot from 15 yards out, 8-6 Cuse. Both Billy Ward, and Scott Loy played fantastic today. Ward finished the afternoon with 2 goals on 2 shots, 2 assists and a ground ball. Loy had 2 goals and an assist off of 3 shots. The Orange overall continue to have an excellent shots on goal percentage, today they put 19 of 30 on net.
Ward had a hand in the next goal too, assisting Dylan Donahue who had a turn around shot from 7 yards out, 9-6 Cuse. Off the faceoff, as if SU wasn't doing their part to give away the ball, the refs called a loose ball push, giving Hopkins the ball. There were two hits, but both were clean. Coach Desko lost his cool on the sideline over that one. The third goal of the run went to Matt Harris. After receiving the clearing pass from Dom, Harris took it up the field on a fast break, got the defenders to bite on a fake pass and the long-pole sent one past Schneider, 10-6 Cuse. After being moved from LSM to close defense, Matt Harris had a great game. He was physical and had 4 ground balls. The next JHU possession was a lengthy one with zero offensive pressure, and did not result in a timer on call from the refs. Personally, I'm getting very frustrated by this rule. No ref crew has the same criteria for making the call, and it doesn't appear that it is being applied to every team evenly. Basically it's completely subjective.
With Syracuse up by 4, Hopkins, or rather Ryan Brown went on a run of their own. The fourth quarter started with Peter MaCartney losing the faceoff for SU giving Hopkins FOGO Drew Kennedy a fast opportunity. After a few quick passes Ryan Brown had an easy crease side goal.
Less than a minute later came the second goal of this run, a total failure by SU. Dom took the clear up the field, put a foot over the midfield field and tried to dance back but the refs got Cuse for the offside violation. Dom dropped the ball and raced back to the net but it was a quick restart and Ryan Brown easily tossed it from midfield into the wide open net. Even though it was a quick play, Desko should have seen the problem and called a timeout, or Dom should have recognized the situation and tossed the ball away. A delay of game penalty would have been much preferred over an open netter.
Two minutes later it was another restart issue. Dom made a save, deflecting the ball towards the sideline. He raced to try and beat out the Hopkins player and dove towards the sideline but did not get there in time. With Dom about halfway back to the net the restart whistle blew. Brown got the pass from Connor Reed in the top right corner of the box and he sent it in for the easy score, 10-9 Cuse. Too easy, and another tough break for SU. Dom has to recognize that he might not win that race and maybe sit back in the crease, but can't blame him for going after it. Again, this three-goal run was highlighted by continued mistakes from Syracuse.
At the 10:26 mark in the fourth quarter and with the timer on, the Syracuse offense prodded the defense. Billy Ward dodged and tested his defenseman, drew the slide, and sent a skip pass to Nick Weston picking up his second goal of the season on a 15 yard shot. The goal put Syracuse up by two, 11-9 SU.
Just 48 seconds later, Holden Cattoni got a goal off of a good screen from the Hopkins attack. Wells Stanwick had the assist, his twentieth of the year. With 9:38 left in the game the Syracuse held a 11-10 lead. The defense really stepped up towards the end of the game. Scott Firman made his presence known at this point getting physical and battling for groundballs. The freshman LSM played very well for the second game in a row.
The final goal of the game came from Dylan Donahue, his eighteenth of the season. After a dodge from X he rolled around the crease and put it high, opposite corner, giving SU the 12-10 advantage. Hopkins had one more possession but after a worm burner from Cattoni hit the post, Firman grabbed the groundball and Syracuse held the ball until time expired.
Syracuse will get back to ACC play Sunday, March 23 at 12:30 pm when they travel to Durham to face Duke. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on 99.5 FM.