Syracuse struggled on defense on Saturday, but goalie Drake Porter had a career day as the No. 6 Orange avoided an upset, holding off unranked Vermont, 17-13, on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
SU jumped out to an early 7-4 lead, and appeared poised to break away after Stephen Rehfuss’s goal with 4:40 left in the first half gave the Orange a 10-5 lead. But Vermont stayed closed, and pulled to within three goals twice in the fourth quarter, and as late as 4:11 to go after Brock Haley’s unassisted goal made it 16-13.
It could’ve been even closer had it not been for Porter, who saw 51 shots, and stopped 20 of them, a career high.
“Drake Porter really helped our cause,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “With the saves he was making, I think he had 20 saves today, that was very big for us because they had the ball so much on offense.”
Vermont dominated Syracuse in several categories, including shots on goal (33-29), ground balls (42-29) and face offs (24-10), which made Porter’s performance that much more important.
“He was tested and I think he rose to the occasion,” Desko said.
It was usual for Syracuse to see so many less possessions. In SU’s two other games against Army and Virginia, the Orange had won at the X by a combined 40-23.
“I think Vermont came to play and what they did on faceoffs just gave them so many possessions,” Desko said. “We knew they could score goals on offense, but thankfully we were efficient on our offense scoring 17 goals on 32 shots.”
Rehfuss led Syracuse with eight points, scoring twice while adding six assists. Owen Hiltz chipped in four goals.
Syracuse will returns to action to face Stony Brook on Friday at 1 p.m.