Welcome to lacrosse Sunday, Syracuse Orange fans!
Both ‘Cuse teams are back home for ACC matchups inside the JMA Dome. The women (5-0, 1-0 ACC) kick start the day with an 11 AM draw against the Virginia Tech Hokies, and the men (3-2, 0-1 ACC) follow with a 4 PM face-off versus the Duke Blue Devils. Both games will be shown on ACC Network Extra.
Let’s start with a quick look at each of SU’s opponents on this day:
Virginia Tech — 11 AM on ACC Network Extra
The Virginia Tech women come to town with a 1-3 (0-1) record on the season. After winning their opener over VCU, they have dropped three straight to James Madison, Mercer, and North Carolina.
A tough, gritty team
The record isn’t good, but this VT team is a tough group that will give their opponent a fight. Their losses to two ranked teams in JMU and UNC came by only two and four goals, respectively, so they’re not a group to be taken lightly. Getting a win against the Hokies might not be the layup it was against Pitt.
Slow it down and grind it out
As you might expect from the previous paragraph, the Hokies are a team that likes to play a grind-it-out, low-scoring style of lacrosse. On the season, they’re only averaging 8.5 goals per game, but they’re also only giving up 9.25 goals per game to their opponents.
It will be an interesting contrast in styles to the Orange’s light-up-the-scoreboard way of playing.
Can one team consistently win draws to help their offense dictate the pace of this game? Let’s hope Kate Mashewske can keep it going after winning 18 draws to herself against Albany.
Who to look out for
They’re led by Olivia Vergano (No. 4) who’s tied for the team lead with seven points (6G, 1A) and also leads the team with 15 draw controls. She’s a dangerous player who scored a hat trick against the Tar Heels, including a couple of spectacular individual efforts. Anyone who scores three goals against UNC’s defense is a special player. Blair Guy (No. 43) and Kayla Frank (No. 45) are the other two players tied for the team lead in points.
Their goalie, Jocelyn Torres, is off to an outstanding start this season. She’s made 41 saves in four games and has a .526 save percentage and 9.25 goals-against average.
Duke — 4 PM on ACC Network Extra
Duke is playing their ACC opener after a 4-1 start to the season out of conference with wins over Bellarmine, High Point, Denver and Penn, and a loss to Jacksonville.
As per usual, they’re a high-scoring offense averaging just under 16 goals per game (15.8), a unit that’s led by the trio of Brennan O’Neill (15G, 13A, 28P), Andrew McAdorey (13G, 9A, 22P) and Dyson Williams (19G, 1A, 20P).
That group in particular are the ones for the Orange defense to look out for. On the season, the three of them are shooting a combined 43 percent, while the rest of the offense is only shooting 27 percent combined. If there are any players the defense needs to especially watch their rotations around, it’s those three. Dyson Williams, in particular, is a sniper shooting 50 percent on the season.
Man-up vs. Man-down
Coming off the five man-up goals against UNC, we all know about SU’s prowess on the EMO this season. The Orange are a ridiculous 16-of-23 this year for a 69.6 conversion rate. Nice.
But what you might not know is that the Duke man-down unit is equally as impressive. The Blue Devils are surrendered only three goals all season in 20 opportunities, meaning that 85 percent of the time they don’t allow a goal when down a man. Something’s gotta give.
The other side is also a good battle as the Duke EMO is 7-of-13 (.538) while ‘Cuse has only allowed a goal on 7-of-22 (.318) opportunities this season.
FO and GB battle
A big concern coming into this game is, yet again, the face-off situation. The Orange are coming off a game in which they lost the restart battle, 16-19, to UNC. Duke’s Jake Naso is the next in a long line of strong FOGOs that SU is facing during this stretch of the season.
Naso is one of the nation’s best, and is 81-of-129 (.628) to start the year. Johnny Richiusa has shown an ability to fight at times, but his overall numbers are cringe-worthy. Richiusa is just 56-of-131 so far, a .427 win percentage.
Directly connected, in part, to the FO battle is the overall GB battle, a stat that also skews heavily in Duke’s favor. The Blue Devils are plus-37 in the ground ball department this season, while the Orange go the other way at a minus-25 disadvantage.
The one saving grace is the turnover situation. Duke has been a sloppy team this season; they’re averaging 15.4 turnovers per game. SU opponents are averaging 17 turnovers per game. Can the Orange force enough Blue Devil miscues to help even-up a likely possession disadvantage at the X? They may need to in order to keep this game competitive.
And on that happy note, let’s get to some Sunday lacrosse in the 315! Let’s go Orange!