April 10, 2010

Orange Crush: Syracuse Dominates Princeton 13-4

by Chris Gentilviso | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Even winning a national championship is never enough to stop adversity.

For the defending national champion Syracuse Orange, this season’s adversity has been far from routine.

An assault at a downtown Syracuse bar knocked sophomore attackman Tim Desko to the sideline for four games. A cracked collarbone knocked sophomore midfielder Kevin Drew out of action for six games. Add in an injury that has limited FOGO Josh Knight to two games, and the run to repeat has been anything but affable.

On Saturday night, adversity was an afterthought, as No. 3 Syracuse streaked to a wire-to-wire 13-4 victory over No. 4 Princeton at the Big City Classic.

“I think that it’s been a work in progress trying to figure out who we are,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “The combinations we were going to use early in the year versus the ones we’re using now – people are starting to play as units. We’ve got a little bit more of a plan out there offensively.”

Ushering in the 82,500-seat New Meadowlands Stadium, the Orange mixed a seamless offensive plan with a stifling defense to paralyze the Tigers’ chances.  Syracuse (8-1) set the tempo early, as a pair of early goals from freshman JoJo Marasco and senior Josh Amidon staked the club to a 2-0 lead.

Despite the early offense, the Orange fell victim to five first-quarter flags, granting the Tigers an opportunity to regain their footing. But Princeton (7-2) was listless on those man-up chances, registering an 0-for-4 mark in those situations.

“Our extra-man was not good,” Tigers head coach Chris Bates said. “On those opportunities, you need to cash in. When you don’t, again, I think we never caught momentum and never really started to feel good about the game.”
Princeton’s best shot to seize that momentum came midway through the second quarter. A slick submarine goal  by freshman midfielder Mike Chanenchuk trimmed the Orange edge to 3-2 with 9:20 left in the first half.

Little did the Tigers know that Chanenchuk’s goal was the beginning of a suffocating scoreless drought of 31 minutes and 13 seconds. Over that span, the Orange reeled off nine unanswered goals, taking a double-digit lead into the start of the fourth quarter.

From Bates’ spot on the sideline, the crippling factor was ball control.

“We never had multiple-shot possessions and got ourselves feeling good,” Bates said. “It was one and done. And again, to solve a good goalie and a good defense, that’s not going to cut it.”

That double-digit lead was sparked by a scrappy second-half defense from the Orange. Syracuse forced four third-quarter turnovers by the Tigers and won the ground balls battle by by a 14-6 margin.

Junior goalkeeper John Galloway backed his support unit, stopping 11 shots over the first three quarters to hold Princeton at that meager two-goal total.

Galloway credited the big stage of the New Meadowlands Stadium as a tipping point for his team’s success.

“The ball was big and white,” Galloway said. “It looked like a beach ball tonight. It was nice. But I just saw the ball well.”

A year ago, the Orange suffered a 12-8 loss to the same Princeton Tigers, in the same event at the old Giants Stadium. Following that defeat, Syracuse reeled off nine straight wins, culminating in an overtime victory over Cornell for the national title hardware.

While a Big City Classic win is in the Orange’s pocket this season, Desko was quick to note that a long stretch of games still stands before his team.

“I just feel good about being able to beat a team like this like we did today,” Desko said. “I feel happy about that. But I think these guys know we have to come to play every week and we’ve got to keep getting better. We’re taking each opponent one at a time.”

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