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No. 9 Syracuse Can’t Sustain Rally, Falls to No. 2 Virginia 20-11

Griffin Cook (2) jostles for position against a Virginia defender.
Griffin Cook (2) jostles for position against a Virginia defender.

Midway through the third quarter, Syracuse’s Brendan Curry ripped a shot on net and scored a goal that cut Virginia’s lead to just three goals. It finally seemed as if Syracuse had figured the Cavaliers out, and was on the way to making what once looked like a blowout into a competitive game.

Unfortunately for SU, this wouldn’t be the case. After a run where the Orange outscored Virginia by six and cut the lead to just three, Virginia showed its poise and skill on the way to a 7-0 run that once again transformed the matchup. Syracuse was unable to make another comeback after the run.

This matchup featured a lot of bad and just a glimmer of great for Syracuse. The Orange’s second consecutive game against a top two team in the country started much like the first one. The Orange, who fell down 5-0 to Maryland last Sunday, started Saturday’s matchup allowing the Cavaliers to score eighth of the game’s first nine goals. All of those goals came in the first quarter.

Syracuse’s defense was porous throughout, allowing Virginia seemingly any look it wanted. In the first quarter, the Cavaliers put 13 shots on goal. Virginia also had 10 shots on goal in the third quarter.

Even with the onslaught of shots, Syracuse goalie Bobby Gavin stood tall. Gavin, a former Cavalier himself, had 12 saves. Though 20 goals were scored against Gavin he was not at fault for many of them. Head Coach Gary Gait said, “We can’t clear the ball,” the coach continued, “We didn’t stay with our plan. We didn’t look up the field and move the ball.”

Gait said his team had to rise to the occasion in all facets of the game, “We’re demanding a lot more out of our guys this week, and they need to step up and do what they ask of our game plan,” Gait continued, “We have to execute a game plan and focus on the way we play, ball movement, defense and long possessions.”

SU’s ball movement and length of possession were two of the day’s biggest struggles. The Orange’s lack of offensive punch was once again on display. The Cavaliers double teamed both Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry for most of the game. The strategy worked well as the two combined for just four points.

In lieu of SU’s normal scorers, Owen Seebold, Lucas Quinn, Mikey Berkman and most surprisingly Griffin Cook became the go-to guys for Syracuse. The SU role players listed scored at least twice. Syracuse’s ineffectiveness on offense in the first quarter and later in the third killed its chances of making a comeback.

Another area where Syracuse struggled was the face-off X. SU’s Jakob Phaup won 77% of his face-offs vs. Petey LaSalla in last year’s matchups. Unfortunately for the Orange, that trend of dominance ended today. LaSalla was dominant, winning 11 of 15 faceoffs and forcing Phaup into three face-off violations by the early second quarter.

The Orange go back to the drawing board now to prepare for next Sunday’s game against Army. The Black Knights are the 14th ranked team in the country and beat Syracuse 18-11 in last season’s opener. Coverage of the game starts at 3:30 PM with GZA Countdown to Face-off.