This one wasn't easy for the Orange, but the No. 1 team in the nation finished strong to stay atop the throne for another week. Here are five takeaways:
1. Another slow start
After falling behind 4-0 to St. John's in Georgia last week, SU returned to the Carrier Dome and jumped out to another dreadful start against the Blue Jays, gifting their arch rivals a 3-0 start and a 5-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. Syracuse suffered several defensive lapses with lazy and unnecessary slides in the opening minutes, and mediocre faceoff play by Ben Williams (by his standards). Williams went 4/8 in the first quarter with two violations, helping Johns Hopkins control possession and the lead.
2. Williams keys Syracuse's runs
After the slow start at the X, Williams won five of the next six faceoffs to open the second quarter. During that span, the Orange scored six consecutive goals, to cap off a 7-0 run and jump out to a 8-5 lead. After Hopkins clawed back to 8-8, Williams won the next three faceoffs as the Orange regained a 10-8 advantage. And finally, after another tie at 10-10, Williams dominated the final four faceoffs as SU pulled away. As Williams goes, the team goes, and he finished the day 16-27 (.593) in the win.
3. Wardwell comes up big when it matters
Looking at the stat sheet, Bobby Wardwell did not have a great game. He stopped just 5/15 shots on goal (33%), and let up double digit goals for the first time all season. But Wardwell came up with some monster stops down the stretch, one of which turned the tide immensely. Tied 10-10, Ryan Brown got his hands free and let loose a rocket at the cage that could have given Hopkins the lead. The senior made the save, with the rebound kicking out to Mike Messina, who got the run started on the other end and leading to a Dylan Donahue goal, which proved to be the game winner.
4. Schoonmaker shows up for best game of season
Lost in SU's early-season dominance has been the subpar play of one of its top offensive midfielders, Henry Schoonmaker. The senior was expected to be one of the leading scorers in 2015, but he came into the sixth game of the season with just two goals and three assists on the year. Schoonmaker doubled his season goals total by scoring two against the Blue Jays and added an assist for good measure. Syracuse will definitely need to see more of that going forward as the schedule gets tougher, especially if teams continue to put the pole on either Lecky or Galasso and leave Schoonmaker to take on a short stick midfielder.
5. Donahue has back-to-back off shooting games
Talk about picking nits. Donahue finished the game with one goal and two assists, but the junior attack was just 1-for-6 on shots. That's following up on a 2-for-8 performance last week against St. John's. Donahue shot at least 50% in each of the first four games, and is known nationally as one of the best finishers in the game, but he missed multiple point-blank shots against Hopkins. Give him credit for still finding ways to contribute though, as he amassed five assists in those last two games, and hopefully the shooting slump is just a brief aberration.