Piscataway, N.J. – John Desko knew there were going to be games like this during the 2018 season for his Orange.
A team loaded with underclassmen at both ends of the field, played like one with inexperience in the second half, as the No. 12 (but falling) Orange were flustered in Sunday afternoon’s 14-10 loss to 16th-ranked Rutgers, in front of an impressive turnout of 5,048 on a sunny but blustery day at High Point Solutions Stadium.
With the game a back-and-forth affair in the first half, tied 5-5 at halftime, the Scarlet Knights took advantage of numerous self-inflicted SU wounds (22 turnovers) in the second half erupting for nine goals to win going away. Syracuse was essentially shutout in the third and four quarters, scoring just two meaningless goals in the final 1:20 with the game out of reach.
“Today we lost our composure a little bit,” Desko said after SU was denied its 899th all-time victory, and fell to 3-3 this season. “They jumped on us in a real hurry and scored four or five goals in a row (actually seven straight) before we even really had the ball back. We can’t play that way, we have to value our possessions, take some pressure off our defense and be patient offensively for our younger guys to grow in the offense.”
A pair of redshirt sophomores, attackman Stephen Rehfuss and midfielder Riley O’Sullivan each scored a goal, but the majority of the offense came though upperclassmen, junior attack Nate Solomon and senior middie Brenden Bomberry each with two goals.
The turnovers stood out even more as Syracuse won the faceoff matchups 16-12, but every time Rutgers had the ball, they patiently tested the defensive trio of Nick Mellen, Marcus Cunningham, and Nick DiPetro, and goalie Dom Madonna who played well at times with 10 saves, but watched helplessly as the Scarlet Knights ultra talented attackman Jules Heningburg danced around the Orange “D” for six goals shooting from all angles.
“The communication just kind of fell apart (in the second half),” Madonna explained trying to figure out the Rutgers nine goal blitz. “The offense I think played well today. Definitely you can put this (game) on the defense. We’re going to own it (responsibility) get back to work, and iron out the things we need to iron out.”
It will be a week of hard work ahead for the team, as a schedule that was loaded with eight pre-season Top 20 ranked teams doesn’t get any easier with a road trip Saturday to No. 3 Duke.