MLAX : Season-long faceoff struggles plague SU once again; Duke’s senior midfielders take control

first_img Comments Published on May 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] DURHAM, N.C. – John Desko couldn’t escape the topic. From his opening statement to the questions he faced following Syracuse’s loss to Duke on Saturday, the head coach repeated himself over and over.A 7-of-24 faceoff performance filtered into the performance of the Orange in every facet of the game. The offense could never get going without the ball. And the defense was forced to try to slow down an explosive Duke offense for nearly the entire game.After plaguing Syracuse all season, Desko addressed the future of the position that was the difference in so many games this season.‘We got to keep working at it, obviously recruiting wise, we’re going to be looking for anybody that we think can come in and help us out right away there,’ Desko said.Syracuse (9-8) came into the year with a focus on getting better at the X. But for the most part, draws remained an issue for the team all season. It proved to be the problem that ended the Orange’s year in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday in a 12-9 loss to Duke (14-4) at Koskinen Stadium.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe startlingly low number of faceoff victories was what Desko and his players pointed to as the answer to nearly every question surrounding the loss. The battle for possession prevented SU from having any chance to pull off the upset despite tying the game early in the second half.The Orange never dominated an opponent at the X all season, and came into the game ranked 41st out of 50 Division-I teams in faceoff-win percentage at 47.5 percent.Desko tried seven different players on draws this season, and while some had their share of success, all of them were inconsistent.After Syracuse won the faceoff battle in its last two games at the Big East tournament, Desko is hopeful sophomore specialists Chris Daddio and Ricky Buhr establish themselves and turn Syracuse’s weakness around next season.‘Our guys will be juniors next year and hopefully step into their own like they did the last part of the season,’ Desko said.Duke attack capitalizes on opportunitiesDuke head coach John Danowski credited his senior midfielders for sparking the Blue Devils offense.Justin Turri and Robert Rotanz each finished with three goals to contribute to the team’s 12-9 win over Syracuse on Saturday. But Danowski was more impressed by the plays that didn’t show up in the box score after the game.‘While they did make plays and score goals,’ Danowski said, ‘I was happier with their decision making, passes they didn’t make, feeds they didn’t force which allowed us to maintain possession of the ball and then continue to hunt for good opportunities.’On a day when Duke had plenty of chances to attack Syracuse offensively, staying patient and maximizing those opportunities was key for the Blue Devils. The patient approach of working the ball around until a teammate found a wide-open shot paid off as the team finished with 12 goals.When the Blue Devils jumped out to a three-goal lead, that patience was on display. Duke had the Syracuse defense constantly sliding with quick passes around the perimeter before taking the open shot.The Blue Devils caught the Syracuse defense out of sorts on an extra-man opportunity about four minutes into the third quarter, and Rotanz buried a shot into the back of the net for his third goal to put Duke up 7-5. SU defenders David Hamlin, Matt Harris and Brandon Mullins all furiously tried to get set for the Duke possession, but Rotanz beat all of them and fired past Orange goaltender Bobby Wardwell for the score.Later, Mullins was late rotating out to attack Christian Walsh, who scored Duke’s fourth consecutive goal of the third period and sent the Blue Devils on their way to a first-round victory.‘We kept the ball moving, we didn’t settle for the first easy look we didn’t let the goalie make any of the easy saves,’ Turri said. ‘We were really patient and spread the ball around and moved it to anybody. No one guy is the key to the offense.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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