Syracuse earned its ninth straight victory on Saturday against unranked Binghamton, but it wasn’t easy. The top-ranked Orange (11-1, 4-0 ACC) just barely pulled off a 9-8 win, improving to 8-1 in one-goal games this season.
“I didn’t think we had a great week [in practice],” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “So it was a really good lesson for us that if we’re going to practice like we did, good things aren’t going to happen for us.”
Although the Orange dominated the first period and got off to a 4-1 lead, the Bearcats quickly seized momentum in the second quarter. Binghamton scored three straight to tie the game and notched another with five minutes left in the half to take a 5-4 lead.
A near fifteen-minute Orange scoring drought left Syracuse struggling to create any offensive production, but soon after, Jordan Evans and Nick Mariano canned quick goals to give the Orange a 6-5 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
Binghamton was able to remain close in the first half because it dominated in ground balls. The Bearcats went 10-for-11 in the second period, and were also able to contain Syracuse’s star faceoff performer, Ben Williams, to only 4-of-13 at the X.
“I thought we came out to a good start with those early goals to take the lead, but I think we got a little too comfortable with it,” Desko said. “Binghamton started getting some good possessions, especially off face-offs.”
Binghamton regained the lead well into the third period, but Syracuse’s Jordan Evans notched his third goal of the day with just under four seconds left to tie the game at 7 heading into the fourth.
Binghamton senior attack Tom Moore was the Bearcats’ saving grace all day, scoring five goals. But with the game on the line, Binghamton curiously didn’t put the ball in his hands.
Instead, with Binghamton down by one in the waning seconds of the game, Griffin Konen ripped a shot in SU goalie Evan Molloy’s direction. Molloy kicked saved it for his ninth on the afternoon, giving Syracuse possession to run out the clock.
“I knew it was going inside so I tried to pivot, get as big as I could in net, match the stick, and kick my leg out,” Molloy said, “and I got a piece of it.”
Despite the win, Desko was not pleased with his team’s performance.
“When we did get the ball, I thought we uncharacteristically turned it over,” he said. “I didn’t like a lot of our decisions today.”
Syracuse turned the ball over 13 times. Midfielder Sergio Salcido was held to a no-goal game with three turnovers. And Ben Williams went only 8-for-20 at the X.
“Our defense did a great job making good decisions when [Salcido] was attacking,” Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown said. “He can be really dangerous, but one-on-one, we did a good job of forcing him to his weak hand and limiting his feed.”
Fortunately for SU, its defense made up for the difference.
“Hats off to them,” Desko said. “For the amount of time they had to play, they really gutted it out. It all starts at the defensive end of the field.”
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