After the game Junior attack Kevin Rice summed it up: "The best thing about today is you can't play any worse." Yeah, it was that bad.
Not sure anyone saw this one coming. Saturday's afternoon tilt between the Maryland Terrapins and Syracuse Orange looked like it had the makings of a classic, if rare, regular season matchup. For the first time since 1983, #5/7 Maryland visited the Carrier Dome to meet the #2/1 Syracuse Orange. Maryland came into the game largely untested. Their 2-0 record seemingly meaningless with the two wins coming against beat downs of two clearly inferior UMBC and Mount St. Mary's teams. In both contests, the Terps held their opponent to three goals while putting up at least fourteen for themselves.
On the other side, SU had taken care Sienna before finding themselves in a tough battle last week against a very good Albany team. One of the questions coming into today's game was whether or not Maryland could at least slow down a Syracuse offense that possessed so many weapons.
Facing his former team, Dom Lamolinara got the starting nod once again today. He and "backup" Bobby Wardwell have been solid this season, splitting time for the most part.
The game started off with a good sign: Syracuse winning a faceoff. Maryland has a .452 faceoff win percentage coming into today, but as we all know after last year's Championship Weekend, faceoffs have been the Achilles heal of this team.
Slow pace dominated a first period highlighted by lengthy possessions. Defensively, the Orange came out looking like the better team. The Terps were forced to stay on the fringe of the box as the SU long-poles dominated their matchups. SU contested every shot taken by Maryland player.
Kevin Rice started off the scoring at 12:28. Beginning from behind the net, he curled around the crease and dove into the crease while getting hit. His "superman dive" allowed him to put it between Maryland goalie Niko Amato's legs. Not long after, Jordan Evans had a great opportunity off a feed from the x by Dylan Donahue but Evans' bouncer had a little too much on it, putting it above the cage.
Lamolinara made 6 saves in the first, and looked fairly sharp on those that he made. Finally at 7:59 Matt Rambo picked up Maryland's first. Schoonmaker made it 3-1 SU after a sneaky bouncer. One more goal in the period came from Mike Chanenchuk. SU long stick midfielder Peter Macartney refused to let Chanenchuk get by him on the dodge, forcing him to take a difficult 20 yard shot. It looked like Dom had it but somehow even after getting a piece of it, the ball squeaked through his legs and slowly rolled into the net leaving it 3-2 Syracuse leading after the first quarter.
Overall, the first period went well for SU. The defense was gaining traction shutting down the Terps' shooters, Lamolinara looked solid, and the Orange were able to possess the ball and get some excellent opportunities on offense. They looked good against a good opponent, and it was the last time they did all game.
The scales finally tipped in the second period. Highlighted by Maryland possessions and SU faceoff failures, the Terps began to break down the SU defense. The period started off with Derek Maltz grabbing a pass from Randy Staats, 15 yards out going low on Maryland goalie Amato. Right off the ensuing faceoff however, trouble began with one of what would be three SU illegal procedure penalties in the period.
Even while Maryland didn't score, the extra man opportunity gave Maryland some breathing room, and they seemed to get a little more comfortable on offense. Junior attack, Jay Carlson got the motor running, snagging a pass on the goal line, ducking the long pole and diving towards the top of the crease while getting the ball around Dom on the far side; an incredibly athletic and impressive play. After that, the dam broke. Next up, Henry West from 18 yards out, just sixty seconds after the Carlson score. Less than a minute later, Connor Cannizzaro from 5 yards out. After another illegal procedures penalty, Cannizzaro decided to make it back-to-back goals as he curled around the crease, receiving a well-placed pass from Matt Rambo for the easy tally.
Suddenly it was a 6-4 game with Maryland in the lead.
Mike Iacono took the next faceoff, but the result was the same, another illegal procedure penalty. Three more Maryland goals followed from LoCascio, Raffa and Rambo. The Charlie Raffa goal was a result of a lost faceoff for SU, and a bad five hole miss by Lamolinara, another one that dribbled in behind him. On the following Maryland possession, Freshman Matt Rambo was trying desperately to dodge from the side, and ended up taking a contested shot that snuck between Lamolinara and the pipe. 9-4 Maryland.
Lamolinara couldn't keep pace, allowing 9 goals in 23 minutes and 7 goals in 8:37 of time played in the second period. It happened so fast, and he looked stunned. What began as a promising game for the starter quickly turned nightmarish. At least three of the goals allowed in the second period he got a piece of but dribbled in anyways, today could not have gone any worse for the former Terp.
Bobby Wardwell took over with 6:23 left in the half. It's always tough for a goalie to step in at halftime of a game, even tougher when it's mid-period. Not a good situation for Wardwell to be heading into and it panned out that way. Approximately 5 seconds into Wardwell's tenure, Charlie Raffa easily took the faceoff and made it to the crease, putting his shot top left on Wardwell. 10-4 Maryland.
The Orange finally got a much needed possession after a Maryland faceoff violation. Hakeem Lecky was able to break the Syracuse silence with a goal at 5:42 left in the second. The Orange were rewarded with another possession off the faceoff and Lecky attempted to force the issue by dodging from the side of the box and taking it straight to the crease, but the Terps long poles showed up big time as they took him down hard while Amato was able to make the save. Although no goal came of it, the play did result in a Maryland illegal checking penalty, giving SU fans some hope. The penalty, however, was easily killed off. That 2 minute piece of the second period was just about the only point SU had any momentum at all during the period.
Terps midfielder, Mike Chanenchuk put one more away, placing it right at Wardwell's feet; one of those goals you want back as a goalie. Off the ensuing faceoff, SU gained control, and with just over a minute left the Orange called a timeout. It looked as though they might be able to put something together and cut the deficit before half. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. After losing the possession, UMD settled it in their end, and with 9.6 seconds left on the clock Junior, Kevin Forster received a beautiful cross-crease pass to catch Wardwell out of position. 12-5 Maryland at the half.
The second period could not have ended sooner for the Orange. Maryland took 28 shots in the first half and capitalized twice on SU's three illegal procedure penalties. The Orange had 5 faceoff violations in the half, helping Maryland to a dominant 13-of-19 faceoff win record. Wardwell did not have a save in the second period, and Lamolinara had one. Not much can be said about the offensive performance, especially in the second quarter, simply because they didn't see much of the ball. Syracuse Head Coach John Desko stressed in his post game comments that he felt one of the biggest problems with SU's performance was the lack of possession; "It comes down to how much offense did we really play."
The Terps wouldn't need any more for the win but they added four extra in the third period. If there was any hope that Syracuse would come out of the half with a game plan to fix the situation, it was quickly put to rest. At 12:53 of the third, Carlson picked up a hat trick for the day, with Forster on for the assist. The struggles continued for the Orange. After missing a completely open net, Maryland took the ball out from the x on a quick restart. Connor Cannizzaro received the quick pass from behind the net and easily put it through Wardwell's feet. Didn't look like everyone was paying attention on that one. Junior, Joe LoCascio added one, as did Charlie Raffa to finish out the third period scoring for Maryland.
It took until 1:22 left in the third, before SU made any noise. Surprisingly for what kind of day it had been, it was a gorgeous play. Kevin Rice hit Henry Schoonmaker streaking dead center towards the crease, Schoonmaker received the pass and went high-to-low on Amato for an absolutely smooth looking play to make it a 16-6 Maryland lead. Rice now has 11 assists on the year.
Maryland held the ball for the majority of the fourth, slowing the game down substantially. The only two goals in the fourth quarter came from Randy Staats and one another from Schoonmaker, with Dylan Donahue assisting on both. Schoonmaker finished the game with a hat trick, five other Syracuse players had one goal.
The final stats are scary. Maryland took 55 shots in the game, absolutely shelling the SU goalies. More importantly, without question, the faceoff situation has not been remedied. Syracuse won just 8 faceoffs all game (only 2 in the second half) and had 6 faceoff violations. The Orange also got decimated in the ground ball battle 36-17.
Syracuse's next game takes them to Charlottesville, VA on March first, where they will take on UVA.