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No. 6 Syracuse men’s lacrosse travels to Hobart Saturday in battle of top faceoff units

Syracuse faceoff John Mullen (36, white) wins a faceoff against High Point in a 19-13 win Mar. 2.
Syracuse faceoff John Mullen (36, white) wins a faceoff against High Point in a 19-13 win Mar. 2.

In Wednesday’s win over No. 4 Duke, there were few statistical categories Syracuse got beat in. But at the faceoff x, the Orange found lots of struggles. SU, who is third in the nation in face-off winning percentage, won only 6 of 17 faceoff attempts.

Saturday the faceoff battle gets even tougher when Syracuse (8-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to Hobart (3-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10). The Statesmen are just four spots behind the Orange in face-off winning percentage, coming in at seventh.

Syracuse’s faceoff unit is anchored by two players new to central New York this season.

Graduate student Mason Kohn has led the effort for most of the season. The Tufts transfer has won 122 of 195 faceoff attempts. But Wednesday Kohn had his worst performance of the season, going two for seven.

“It wasn’t our best performance at the faceoff X,” Syracuse Head Coach Gary Gait said after the game. “But I will say they responded in the second half. We got dominated in the first half. Our defense bailed us out. In the third quarter (we went) six of seven. That allowed us to put the pressure on them and get around offensively.”

Kohn’s best moment came in the third. He won a faceoff and ran down the field to add to the Syracuse lead.

It wasn’t just Kohn taking faceoffs. Freshman John Mullen went four for ten against the Blue Devils. Mullen has taken 83 faceoffs for the Orange, winning 52 of them.

While it’s mainly been a two man effort in faceoffs for the Orange this season, Gait gave credit to the rest of the roster for preparing Kohn and Mullen.

“There’s six guys in our faceoff unit and they support each other,” Gait said after the Duke win. “The guys that aren’t getting out on the field know how important it is to challenge them during the week in practice.

Syracuse made up for lost faceoffs in the ground ball department. Syracuse edged Duke 26-24 in that category.

Riley Figueiras (11, orange) wins a ground ball in a 10-4 win over No. 4 Duke on Wednesday.
Riley Figueiras (11, orange) wins a ground ball in a 10-4 win over No. 4 Duke on Wednesday.

While Syracuse tries to find its footing once again at the center x, the team will have to do while facing off against a strong Hobart faceoff unit.

The Statesmen are led by Adam Shea, another grad student faceoff specialist. After taking 86% of the team’s faceoffs last year, Shea has taken an even larger jump this year. He’s currently 15th in the nation in faceoff percentage, winning 59.7% of draws.

In Hobart’s last game, a 20-9 win over LeMoyne, Hobart won 20 of 32 draws. Shea won 11 of those, while first year Mike Valent won nine.

“I feel like we dominated possession of the game,” Hobart Head Coach Grey Raymond said after the LeMoyne game. “We felt like going in and watching film, the faceoff would be more balanced than it was. I thought our guys did a pretty good job at the faceoff x.”

Last year when these two teams met, Syracuse easily rolled to a 18-7 victory. The battle was much closer for faceoffs though. Hobart won the faceoff battle 13-16. But the Statesmen struggled to score with the extra possession.

Faceoff from Boswell Field at Urick Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The matchup marks the 109th time these two teams have played. Syracuse leads the all-time series 80-26-2. These teams have been playing since 1916. The Kraus-Simmons Trophy was made to honor Hobart’s Babe Kraus and Syracuse’s Roy Simmons Sr., two National Lacrosse Hall of Fame coaches. WAER’s coverage starts at 3 p.m. Saturday with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Faceoff.