Our own Jim Simmons covered the faceoff disaster that led to the close game (and the needed late goal to win). But it’s worth discussing this season’s strange spat of one-goal games a bit more.
Namely: How much longer can the team keep this up?
In 15 games this year, Syracuse is 13-2, with 10 one-goal wins (three in overtime) and two one-goal losses. Depending on how you choose to look at that, Syracuse could either conceivably be 15-0, or 2-12 (minus one for the NCAA Tourney game they wouldn’t be playing in).
Though it may seem to be a new phenomenon for this Orange team to be locked into so many one-goal games, the program actually has a recent history of this sort of thing. SU played in five one-goal games last season, going 2-3. They were 2-2 in one goal games in 2015 -- which seems like your typical split for these sort of close contests.
But similar to the uncommon success we’re seeing this year, the team was pretty damn good in one-goal games from 2013 to 2014 as well. During the 2013 season, the Orange were 7-3 in one-goal games. They went 5-2 in 2014 — a total of 12-5 over a 17-game stretch.
This year’s streak is still significantly better than that, which is both good (hey, we’re winning), and worrisome. Eventually, this team’s going to regress to the mean. Probably.
There’s the potential that that “regression” already happened with one-goal losses to both Army and North Carolina. But maybe, as we’ve witnessed late in the season, the regression is how they’re player against lesser foes too. The 11-9 Colgate win was a late score away from being another one-goal win — and if not for an offsides call on the Raiders, it could’ve been the team’s third one-goal loss instead.
Yale’s a quality side, but their dominance at the X on Sunday was indicative of a much better program.
Syracuse has an additional variable on these one-goal games too: the fact that they’re only playing one real half of lacrosse in many cases. Even in the ACC Tournament loss to UNC, the team committed to a furious comeback from nine goals down. In many of the wins, they’ve been down by at least three or four goals in the second half.
So perhaps THAT, more than the one-goal stuff, is the part that’s unsustainable. Better teams (like the Heels and Black Knights) have caught this Orange team sleeping during one half, then held on to win. In the NCAA Tournament, playing one half of a full game won’t be enough. Even with a more favorable draw against Towson in the quarterfinals, the risk is still there for the Orange to mess this up.
Or not. I mean, at this point, we’ve lived on the edge, so might as well keep riding it. Right? With such a small sample size of games, perhaps the regression never happens and we just run this insane streak all the way to the title.