The Syracuse Orange barely escaped Sunday's matchup with the Army Black Knights in a scary 9-8 victory. After recovering from a poor showing in the first quarter, SU regained its composure and was able to go on a 6-0 run propelling the program to its third win of the year.
The only consistent bright spot for Syracuse on the day was the play of Ben Williams, naturally. The junior went 13-19 and without him I think the Syracuse losses this game by a significant margin.
The first quarter finished with Army up 3-2. The Orange defense did not look good and could barely keep up with the fast paced, physical play from the Army offense. Syracuse found itself down for the first time this season after Cole Johnson curled from behind the net and went low on Warren Hill to make it 1-0 Army. Nick Mellen, who was guarding Cole, fell behind a few steps as the Army attackman elevated from behind cage. Derek DeJoe was able to tie the game up with his first goal of the season, but back-to-back goals from Connor Cook and Tim Coll made the score 3-1. Syracuse responded with Dylan Donahue working Austin Schultz back towards the goal on the wing, turning and firing top corner to end the half with Army up 3-2. Donahue was held to just one goal and two assists on the day. He was guarded by Austin Schultz for most of the game, and Schultz really did a great job preventing Donahue from attacking the net.
The Donahue goal in the first started a 4-0 run for the Orange leading to a 5-3 Syracuse lead at halftime. SU continued its run in the second half, putting up another two straight goals. Sergio Salcido scored the first goal of the half at 14:28 when he got a step on his short stick defender dodging down the alley. The matchup on Salcido was not good and he was able to capitalize with two goals.
Army finally stopped the bleeding in the third quarter with a run of three straight goals. Jordan Evans returned fire with his only goal of the game leaving Syracuse up 8-6 at the end of the third quarter. Once again, Evans did not overly impress. He finished the day with one goal, four shots on net, and two turnovers.
Goalie and defensive play highlighted the fourth. It seemed like Warren Hill and AJ Barretto were making saves on every opposing possession. The Army defense, while good all game, refused to allow easy shots in the final period. The SU defense, along with Hill, had a bad first quarter, but stepped it up as the game went on. The slides looked much crisper in the fourth and, as Ric pointed out on the telecast, the unit was communicating well. Barretto finished the game with 11 saves while Hill followed him up with 10.
The Black Knights were able to tie the game up at eight with 4:38 to play. Just over a minute later it was Tim Barber, who had switched back to midfield being replaced at attack by Devin Shewell, scoring the tiebreaker. Barber came from behind the cage with a step on his defender, dipped away from the slide and utilized a jump shot to get the game winner.
It was not a pretty win, but nevertheless, the Orange survive and find themselves at 3-0 heading into the start of ACC play.