The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team secured a berth in the four-team ACC tournament and is a virtual lock for the NCAAs after its 11-10 overtime win against North Carolina on Saturday.
The Orange (8-3, 2-3), winners of four straight, have battled back from a near disastrous 0-3 start in the league. Just three weeks ago, the team was humiliated 21-7 on the road by Duke and only a couple of losses away from a disappointingly short season.
Now, after knocking off Notre Dame 11-10, Binghamton 10-8, Cornell 14-9 and North Carolina, the team is right back in the national title discussion.
What’s working for the Orange? Much improved faceoff play, which is taking the pressure off the defense and giving the team’s talented, deep offense more chances to convert.
In the team’s three losses, all league contests, it won a miserable 28 percent of its faceoffs. During the current four-game win streak, its won 58 percent—15 of 24 versus Notre Dame, 10 of 22 versus Binghamton, 14 of 26 versus Cornell and 18 of 26 versus North Carolina.
The Orange averaged just nine goals while allowing 18 in the three losses. It was outshot by Maryland 55-32, Virginia 55-32 and Duke 57-27. And in the ground ball game, the Orange was outdistanced 36-17 (Maryland), 51-22 (Virginia) and 38-17 (Duke). All of that led to an eight-goal loss to Maryland, a five-goal loss to Virginia and the 14-point embarrassment to Duke.
In the past four games, only the Irish outshot the Orange at 40-33. Syracuse took six more shots than Binghamton, four more than Cornell and seven more than North Carolina. The ground ball game has been much improved too. Notre Dame won 31 ground balls to Syracuse’s 28, but the Orange bested the Bearcats 28-24, Big Red 29-24 and Tar Heels 35-25.
Chris Daddio and the team’s faceoff wings have been key to the team’s resurgence. Especially against Notre Dame, Daddio jammed the draw and gave the wings a chance to scrap for ground balls. It’s not always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be. Syracuse doesn’t have to dominate the X, but if it can continue to approach—even surpass—the 50 percent faceoff mark, it’ll be OK. We’re seeing just how good the offense can be with the ball.
Syracuse began playing with urgency and determination after the March 23 disappointment in Durham. Now, it has a chance to avenge the loss. The Orange will face the Blue Devils in Philadelphia April 25. First, it’ll take on Hobart in Geneva on April 19.
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