Syracuse sports just gut-punched me twice in the last 24 hours.
Today it was hard to tell which was worse, the weather or the play of the Orange. The last time SU gave up at least 21 goals was on February 27, 1997 when they beat UVA 22-21. The last time they gave up at least 21 in a loss was to Hobart on April 23, 1977 when they fell 8-24 to the Statesmen.
In a rematch of last year's national championship game, it is hard to imagine Syracuse showing up with a worse performance.
Guess what we have to talk about first? Yup, face-offs. I know we are all tired of hearing about it and I am sure sick of talking about it, but the Orange refuse to improve. SU went 7-31 on the day, that's a .225 win percentage. Five Syracuse players were sent to the slaughter at the faceoff X. Out of all of them Drew Jenkins looked the most competent going 2-11. 2-11 and he looked the strongest, wow. Joe DeMarco went 3-11. At this point the goal has to be getting a defensive set of midfielders to start on face-offs and basically hope you get a win, but if not at least you're set to get back on defense.
While the Orange offense is one of the most efficient in college lacrosse, this team has trouble getting the ball into their offensive zone. Coming into the game they had a .626 shots on goal percentage and scored 82 goals on 132 shots on goal. Last week the face-off troubles were negated by Syracuse playing well in just about every other aspect of the game.
Today though, SU lost the groundball battle 17-38 and went 16-21 on clears. Due to the ineptitude in the face-off game, Syracuse offensive possessions rely on caused turnovers, groundballs and good clears. If they do poorly in the facets of the game then they don't get the offensive touches they need, which is what happened today.
The crazy part is the Orange started off the game looking good, as they have in almost every game they've played this year. Early in the first, Nicky Galasso made it 2-1 for the Orange, but they would not lead again.
Randy Staats returned for today's matchup after being out from injury. Staats was the only SU player to have a multiple goal game, and both of them were fantastic backhanded goals. It's good to know we have him for one more year. Like I mentioned earlier, it is hard to blame the offense, which has been pretty good all year, when they don't get the ball.
In net, you have to feel for the goaltenders. Dom Lamolinara got absolutely shelled in the first half. He made 5 saves and gave up 13 goals, but his defense didn't help him out in the least bit. In the second half, the same defensive trend continued for Bobby Wardwell who made 11 saves and allowed 8 scores. Both goalies got burned high, off-stick all day. I don't think Wardwell starts unless he overtakes Dom in practice because these goals just aren't completely their fault.
Part of the problem for the defense is they just can't get off defense. They are on the field for long possessions and the vast majority of the game is spent in the Syracuse defensive zone. Duke outshot Syracuse 57-27, 35-10 in the first half and 48-17 in the first three quarters. That should provide the picture of the number of offensive opportunities throughout the game. At this point I feel like I'm being redundant, we all get the point.
While Syracuse didn't show up, the Duke midfielders sure did. They accounted for 12 of the Duke goals. The midfielders had great ball movement on edge of the box, and didn't really need to send it inside as those outside snipes worked well enough today. No Duke player outside of the starters accounted for any of the team's points.
Sophomore Myles Jones had 16 goals last year and 9 goals through 9 games this year, but he put away 5 today and added an assist. At 6'4," 240 pounds, Jones is a massive kid and a very tough matchup for any team. His patented move is to bull through his defender and head towards the goal, but today he showed off his mid-range shot. I believe he went high on all of his deep shots, but he gets so much power on them that it is hard for any goalie to track them. The SU defenseman didn't cover him tightly enough. With the wet ground making it tough to get good footing, the SU midfielders and long-poles probably didn't want to get physical with him and face a close, one-on-one matchup with him, but they barely even got a stick on his hands when shooting.
Then there was Deemer Class. Class led the Blue Devils in points and goals today with 10 and 4 respectively. The majority of his goals came from high in the box. Christian Walsh led all Blue Devils in assists with 6, more than doubling his season total.
On the attack side, Jordan Wolf and Josh Dionne had no problem scoring either. The duo totaled 5 and 4 each. The two attack standouts for the Blue Devils spent the day curling up the crease and in front of the net.
In the crease, Luke Aaron only had to make 5 saves, but again had trouble with those high-to-low shots. Aaron gave up 7 goals before being relieved in the fourth quarter by former starter Kyle Turri who made a save.
The Orange finally return home Saturday after four games on the road. They host Notre Dame for a nooner. The game can be seen on ESPNU or heard on 99.5 WTKW. Effectively this matchup becomes a must win if they Orange hope to have a postseason.
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