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Preview: Syracuse Orange lacrosse vs. Army Black Knights

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Syracuse will play host to Army this weekend in what has become an annual matchup for these two programs. The Black Knights always play Syracuse tight with the Army holding the overall series record.

2013 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championships - Semifinals - Syracuse v Denver Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Opponent: Army

Mascot: Black Knights

Coach: Joe Alberici

Location: West Point, NY

Conference: Patriot League

Game Location: Carrier Dome

Game Time: Noon ET

TV/Radio: TWCS, ACC Network Extra (ESPN3)/TK99 & 105

Weather: Dome Weather

All-Time Syracuse Record Vs. Opponent: 24-39

Previous Matchup: 9-8 Syracuse Win

Opponent Ranking: Not Ranked

2016 Quick Facts

Record: 10-7 Overall, 6-3 Home, 4-3 Away, 0-1 Neutral

Conference Record: 5-3

Conference Postseason Results: Lost in Patriot League Championship

NCAA Tournament Postseason Results: N/A

2017 Team Statistics

Total Goals – Shot Attempts: 39-133

Total Opponent Goals – Shot Attempts: 19-88

EMO Goals (Percentage): 3 (.300)

EMO Goals Against (Kill Percentage): 2 (.666)

Team Shooting Percentage: .293

Opponent Shooting Percentage: .216

Shots on Goal Percentage: .624

Opponent Shots on Goal Percentage: .523

Groundballs: 110

Opponent Groundballs: 61

Turnovers: 39

Caused Turnovers: 24

Faceoffs: 47-70 (.671)

Clearing Percentage: .922

Opponent Clearing Percentage: .840

Penalties: 7-5:30

The Black Knights come into the game at 2-1 with wins over VMI and an 0-2 UMass team. The one loss on the record is due to a close 10-12 game versus Rutgers. Army came into the Carrier Dome with the exact same record against the exact same teams last year. In that 2016 game, the Black Knights played Syracuse tight in a 9-8 loss to the Orange after DESTROYING Warren Hill on the low shots. In fact, Army went on a 5-1 run to tie the game up at eight with under five minutes remaining in the game before Tim Barber put away the game winner with 3:27 to go.

Keep an eye on the groundball battle as that is likely to be extremely important in this matchup. The Black Knights are ninth in the country in GBs per game while Syracuse has snagged 76 on the season putting the Orange sixth in GBs per game in the nation. The faceoff matchup is another area where Army could make a big challenge. Army is seventh in the nation for faceoff winning percentage with Syracuse at third in the country winning an astounding .700 percent of its faceoffs.

In terms of shots, neither of these programs has a very good shooting percentage this year, but SU, per usual, puts up a barrage of shots. ‘Cuse has taken 99 shots, the most amongst teams having played two games. That is an incredible 49.5 shots per game taken by SU.

ATTACK

Senior Cole Johnson has 140 career points including 73 in 2016 and currently leads Army with eight goals on the year. He is the only Army to be named to the Preseason Coaches All-Conference list. Nate Jones led the Black Knights in goals last season with 37. The sophomore picked up five against VMI on Monday night. Conor Glancy has had a rough year in terms of shooting with just one goal and three shots on goal on 10 shots.

For Army to be successful, it must take advantage of man-up situations. Syracuse has killed .666 percent of opponents’ extra-man opportunities. Last season SU was 61st amongst all teams in division I in man-down defense. However, Army has only converted on only .300 percent of its EMOs, good for 47th amongst all teams.

MIDFIELD

The midfield for Army is not very deep this year. Gunnar Miller senior sat out all but four games last year after suffering from a heart condition.This year he’s got a .750 shots on goal percentage with two goals and an assist. David Symmes is the second starting midfielder and has five goals and an assist this year. The third midfielder will be either Austin Colvin who started the last game versus VMI or Avery Littlejohn who started the first two games.

FACEOFF

Dan Grabher is currently 13th in the country in faceoff winning percentage, taking 14 of 16 against VMI on Monday night. In 2016, Grabher had a .639 winning percentage but only went two for eight against Ben Williams in the last meeting. That being said, it looks like Williams is favoring his right shoulder or arm so we will have to see if Cal Paduda takes more bouts at X.

The strength of Williams at the X has often resulted in the frustration of the opposing fogo. Last week, Albany got killed at faceoff X for illegal procedure calls, leading to two man-up situations for Syracuse. The first of which came in the second period and resulted in a Brad Voigt EMO goal and a 6-0 Syracuse run.

DEFENSE

The 6’4” Johnny Surdick is 11th in the country in caused turnovers per game and has a total of eight on the season. Third year starter Reaves Klipstein picked up forty groundballs last season and has a career 28 caused turnovers. After two years as a reserve defenseman, Dom Ricca finally is a starter in his junior year.

The Army defense will be facing a Syracuse offense that is fourth in the nation in assists per game. Only six of Syracuse’s 29 goals have been unassisted, so Army will have to do a good job of covering off-ball players against this Syracuse team that can move the ball so well.

Attackmen Nate Solomon and Jordan Evans came into the year expected to share the quarterbacking role. However, Solomon turned the ball over three times against Albany, two of those times he was taken to the ground while combined the two had just one assist. On the latest In the Crease podcast from Dan Aburn and Kyle Devitte of Inside Lacrosse, the duo suggested that Nick Mariano should become the distributor, and I can’t argue with that.

GOAL

Sophomore AJ Barretto was seventh in goals against average in the nation last season. As of Monday, Barretto is ninth in GAA, but keep in mind that the competition Army’s been playing has been somewhat low.

Barretto has only faced 39 shots on goal through three games, meaning he’s only had to deal with an average of 13 shots on goal per game. Syracuse, meanwhile, has put up 58 total shots on goal with 29 shots on goal per game. Barretto is likely to see a higher number of shots in this matchup than he’s seen this year, it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the increased pressure.

The Syracuse Orange host the Army Black Knights on Saturday at Noon. The game can be seen on TWCS/ESPN3 and heard on TK99/105. Of course you can always follow me @Orangelax for updates.