Well, that was at least better than not winning.
On Thursday evening, the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team ended their two-game losing streak as they crawled their way to a 13-8 victory over the Albany Great Danes in the Dome.
The game marked a much better performance for the maligned SU face-off unit, but unfortunately, it was also an overwhelmingly sloppy game all around for Syracuse.
The Orange committed 14 turnovers, which doesn’t even include all the dropped passes and ground balls that were eventually recovered. They also shot the ball like a team that didn’t have much of it the past couple games, leading to questionable shot selection at times and shooting a subpar 26 percent. Rounding out the sloppiness, the team committed six penalties for the game.
But the good news was that the face-off unit had a bounce-back day, reaching 60 percent (15-of-25) after going 26.6 percent (17-of-64) the previous two games. It was also a dominating day in the ground ball department for the Orange, who won that battle, 42-25.
Syracuse was led by a pair of four-point games from Stephen Rehfuss (2G, 2A) and Chase Scanlan (3G, 1A). From the midfield, Brendan Curry had a hat trick and Tucker Dordevic added a goal and an assist.
Defensively, Drake Porter started slowly but ended up with a really strong game, saving 60 percent with 12 saves and only eight goals against. In front of him, Grant Murphy had a huge game, scooping up four ground balls and causing a ridiculous five turnovers. Many of those he picked clean right out of the air. There were a few breakdowns that lead to easy Albany goals, especially in transition where the Orange failed to pick up players tracking back after turnovers. But overall, the defense did a good job causing 11 Great Dane turnovers while only giving up eight goals.
Got punched in the mouth last week. Got up and punched back.— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) April 8, 2021
Way to handle business. On to Carolina. pic.twitter.com/OEPoqgrRhX
Stephen Rehfuss started the game with back-to-back goals on quick-stick finishes right on the doorstep to put the Orange up 2-0. After an Albany goal, Jacob Buttermore came back from injury and scored just his second goal of the season with a nice left-side snip to put SU up 3-1 to close out the first quarter.
Albany tied it up with consecutive goals in the early second before Curry found the upper corner on the man-up to slide SU back in front. After Albany tied it up again, the Orange went on the biggest scoring run of the game, scoring four straight goals to push the lead to 8-4. It was an evenly distributed run, with all four goals being scored by different guys: Lucas Quinn, Curry, Scanlan, and Owen Hiltz.
Albany scored a man-up goal in the final minute to make it a 8-5 halftime score, but the Great Danes would never get closer than three goals the rest of the game. The Orange outscored them 5-3 in the second half. The second midfield line had another pretty successful day with four combined points. Griffin Cook finally scored his first goal of the season leading off the third quarter, and did it in style on a beautiful behind-the-back effort that he scored off a ground ball.
Highlights from tonight's win: pic.twitter.com/VY2IYDjleY— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) April 9, 2021
My main takeaway from this game is that SU needs to do two main things if they are going to win any of their ACC games to close the regular season:
- face-off at least competitively
- play a clean game
We all know about the face-off struggles of late, but today was a nice respite from those troubles. No, Albany (50.5 win percentage on the year) isn’t as strong on face-offs as most of our ACC opponents, but it was incredibly important for Jakob Phaup, Danny Varello, and Jack Savage to have a game they can feel good about heading into the final three games.
Something else encouraging about the face-offs today? The three FOGOs combined for only three ground balls in their 15 combined wins. That means that the wings actually were able to get involved in helping to win face-offs, something they were unable to do in the previous two games. Against Duke and Notre Dame, we were losing so badly on face-offs that the wings never got a chance to help out. Today, they helped out to the tune of picking up 80 percent of the ground balls on SU face-off wins.
The less encouraging sight today was the lack of a clean game played by the Orange. As I said earlier, the team committed 14 turnovers, six penalties, and countless bad shots. It lead to a game that was hard to watch at times, especially when combined with Albany’s 15 turnovers.
But the bottom line for Syracuse is this: make that many mistakes in the remaining ACC games, and it’ll basically be game over. There were far too many times in this game when a SU pass ended up on the turf. There were too many weak shots that turned into comfortable saves for Albany goalie Liam Donnelly (14 saves). And six penalties became five EMOs for the Great Danes. They only went 2-of-5, but give North Carolina’s top-level offense five EMOs next week, and you’re going to be giving them free goals.
SU will need to be clean, be smart, and do whatever it takes to win face-offs or they will be in trouble.
- Inside Lacrosse released their midseason All-Americans on Thursday, and five Orange players made the list. Brendan Curry and Peter Dearth made the second team, Stephen Rehfuss and Tucker Dordevic made the third team, and Brett Kennedy made honorable mention.
- Syracuse has now won 65-straight games when holding their opponent under 10 goals.
- Grant Murphy’s five caused turnovers are the most for a Syracuse player in a game since 2013.
Syracuse will be off the rest of this weekend, so it’ll be nine days before we see them again.
They will host No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels next Saturday, April 17 at 3 PM on ACC Network.
It will be the first men’s lacrosse home game with members of the general public in attendance this season, so if you’re going to the Dome next Saturday, be sure to get loud and give our boys the crowd advantage in a massive game for the 2021 fate of this team.
Let’s Go Orange!!!