March 25, 2010

Hobart Moving on From Near Miss

by Steven Russolillo | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Hobart goalie Max Silbertlicht stood on his head to make a career-high 23 saves, but it was not enough for the Statesmen to upset No. 2 Syracuse on Tuesday.

Hobart doesn’t believe in moral victories, but Tuesday night’s epic showdown against one of its oldest rivals, No. 2 Syracuse, proved the Statesmen need to be taken seriously as the heat of conference play approaches.

Hobart (2-4, 0-1 ECAC) took the Orange to the brink before succumbing 9-8 in overtime, keeping the Kraus-Simmons Trophy in Syracuse. Senior goalie Max Silberlicht recorded a career-high 23 saves, as Syracuse (5-1) attempted 56 shots throughout the game. But the Statesmen defense, which entered the game ranked 10th in the nation, can take solace in the fact that it held the powerful Orange offense to just two goals in the first half and nine overall.

“When you pour your heart and soul into something and the end result is not something you want, it’s obviously going to hurt,” TW Johnson, Hobart’s second-year head coach, said Wednesday night. “The hurt was because our guys gave everything they had and I’m proud of them. And 24 hours later I still firmly believe our effort was outstanding – we left every ounce of energy on that field and definitely played as a team.”

Hobart held Syracuse scoreless in the second quarter and held a 5-2 lead at halftime before Syracuse mounted its comeback. The Orange actually clung to an 8-7 lead before sophomore attackman Chris Pedersen tied the score with only 1:04 remaining in regulation.

Then came overtime, which contained its share of drama. During the extra session, Hobart won a faceoff and was on attack. Sophomore Bobby Dattilo was driving downfield when he tossed a pass to junior Tim Bigelow, who was about 12 yards in front of Syracuse’s cage. But the pass was low and rolled past him.

Here comes the controversy: Johnson called timeout and Hobart was able to regain possession after the pass rolled out of bounds. But it’s inconclusive whether the timeout was called before the bad pass or afterward. Depending on when it was called, Johnson either deserves to be praised or blamed.

It’s a gutsy move for a coach to call timeout with his team on a fast break opportunity, especially with a chance to score the game-winning goal. Dave Rahme offered his analysis at The Post Standard:
"The Syracuse radio crew saw it that way, opining that Hobart had better score when play resumed or Johnson was going to have some explaining to do. The Geneva crew hailed Johnson as a genius, opining that he saved the team from committing a huge turnover with his heads-up decision. Thus, the debate afterward."

Johnson defended the decision after the game, saying he wanted to develop a strategy during the timeout to create some scoring opportunities. “That’s a classic example of either people love you or they don’t,” Johnson said. “The pass was low and to his off stick [side], so I’m going with that.”

Ultimately, Syracuse junior attackman Stephen Keogh sent the Orange home happy, scoring the game-winning goal with 43 seconds remaining in overtime. Syracuse has now defeated Hobart in 23 of their last 25 matchups, a rivalry that dates back to 1916. There have been 96 games played between these two schools, considered one of the oldest lacrosse rivalries in upstate New York.

“When we play together and play hard, we can do some pretty special things,” Kevin Curtin said after the game in which he registered two goals and one assist. “Now I think guys are really buying into that and are going to believe that.” 

Looking forward, Hobart begins a key ECAC stretch in which its next three games are against conference foes, with the first two coming at Fairfield on Saturday and at Denver on April 3.

“Our game plan paid off for us [Tuesday night] and hopefully that will carry with us for the rest of the season,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can continue to build on the effort and the teamwork that we had and continue to fine tune the technique side.”

ECAC Notes

Loyola (4-2, 3-0) bounced back from its Duke loss and recorded an 18-3 shellacking against conference foe Air Force. The Greyhounds, which scored 14 unanswered goals to start the game, were led by Patrick Fanshaw, who notched a career-high five goals and finished with six points. Loyola will host Towson on Saturday… Fairfield (4-2) recorded its third consecutive win on Tuesday, defeating Ohio State 10-8. Matt Plominski and Kevin Peters led the Stags with two goals apiece. Fairfield will host Hobart on Saturday. Ohio State (4-4, 0-1), which has lost two in a row, will look to get back on track on Saturday at Quinnipiac.  The Bobcats (4-1, 1-1) have won four straight following their season-opening loss to Loyola. Most recently, Quinnipiac knocked off Hobart 9-7 behind a hat trick from Alex Marotto… Denver stunned No. 17 Stony Brook 13-12 last Saturday on Long Island, as senior Charley Dickenson scored the game-winning goal and finished with three assists. This Saturday the Pioneers will host Air Force (1-5, 0-1), a squad struggling to get on track. Most recently, Air Force fell to Siena 5-2 on Tuesday. It took 41 shots throughout the game, but was only able to put 14 on cage. To its credit, four of its five losses have come by three goals or less… Bellarmine (5-3, 0-1) registered an 18-15 victory against Robert Morris on Sunday and will look to add to its two-game winning streak when it hosts Presbyterian on Saturday.

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