March 23, 2014

Dominant Duke Sends Syracuse to 0-3 ACC Mark

by Max Miceli | | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


Despite rainy conditions in Durham, the Duke men had plenty to celebrate in a rout over new ACC foe Syracuse that was a rematch of last year's NCAA finals. (Peyton Williams)


DURHAM, N.C. - Bad weather lead to sloppy play by the Syracuse men's lacrosse team, Duke took advantage, winning by a dominating 21-7 margin at home on Sunday afternoon.

Winning face-offs early and often, the Blue Devils turned an early 2-1 Syracuse lead into an 8-2 Duke advantage after one and never looked back, dropping Syracuse to 0-3 in ACC play in its debut season in the conference.

"I thought we were prepared to play, especially defensively against this group," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "I'm disappointed we didn't react to them a little better offensively.

We didn't seem to understand who they were."

Coming into the game, questions revolved around the Orange's ability to even compete with All-American Brendan Fowler at the face-off X, and when the game started, those questions turned into a tragic reality.

Simply put, they couldn't win face-offs.

After one period of play, Fowler was 8-for-11 and Syracuse's face-off men had already given Duke a man up opportunity by violating three times. Not only were the face-off men losing, they were giving Duke man up opportunities the Blue Devils didn't even need.

"It just felt like 'Make it, Take it' out there because Brendan Fowler was out there winning all the face-offs," Deemer Class said of Fowler's 24-31 day at the X.

At the games beginning, Syracuse attempted to approach the speedy Duke offense by employing an aggressive man-to-man look on defense. But early unassisted goals off fast and even physical dodging by the likes of Myles Jones and Jordan Wolf forced the Orange to give the Blue Devils a new look.

They switched to zone.

Tightening up the defense to a near extreme, Syracuse wasn't about to allow slashers like Wolf to work their way inside around.

"I thought that would slow them down," Desko said. "But everything seemed to be going their way."

Instead, the Orange encouraged Duke's unproven shooters take a crack at putting ranged shots with time and room past keepers Dominic Lamolinara and Bobby Wardwell.

The result was nearly unmatchable efficiency and goals galore.

"We've seen zone, in the past ten days, probably a hundred times," Jones said. "It's nothing that scares us. We're comfortable in it.

We just move the ball and move our feet."

With great patience and poise, the Blue Devils traded good shots for great ones, completely ignoring the possibility of taking on defenders behind the cage, something All-American Wolf is known for.

That didn't matter though. With six goals on nine shots from Class and five goals off eight shots from Jones, Duke romped and improved to 2-1 in league play.

Winless in three tries against its new foes in the Atlantic Coast, Syracuse must come to terms with the realistic possibility that it won't even secure a berth in the four-team conference tournament in April.

The problems don't end with the face-off X or the defense either. Five failed clears the were evenly spread throughout the game and 16 turnovers, 10 of which were uncaused, made the Blue Devils' job easy on the defensive end.

Despite the dominating victory against a top-ten team, Duke coach John Danowski doesn't think the team should get too high from performing well.

"The fear is don't let this game be the peak of the season," he said. "Allow this game to show you the possibilities.

"We don't want this game to define us. We don't want this game to be best effort of individual's years and the best effort for the team."

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