February 21, 2016
Dylan Donahue notched a goal and four assists in Syracuse's 16-7 win over Albany. (Rich Barnes)
Dylan Donahue notched a goal and four assists in Syracuse's 16-7 win over Albany. (Rich Barnes)

Syracuse Routs Albany in First Look at Post-Lyle Era

by Stephen Bailey | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The set of circumstances was daunting, but also raised a question for Albany in its season opener at Syracuse.

Losing the faceoff battle 20-7. Outshot 59 to 25. Five failed clears. Three squandered man-up chances. Eighteen turnovers.

"It's hard to win when you don't have the ball," Albany coach Scott Marr said to open his postgame press conference.

But with Lyle Thompson, wasn't it always possible?

In the first game of the post-Lyle era — he was the only men's player ever to win consecutive Tewaaraton Awards — the No. 17 Great Danes fell to No. 5 Syracuse 16-7 in the Carrier Dome on Sunday. One of the most efficient offenses over the past few seasons turned stagnant at times and turned the ball over at others in its limited opportunities.

Orange faceoff specialist Ben Williams claimed the first 11 draws of the game as Syracuse (2-0) ran out to a 5-1 lead at the 1:52 mark of the opening frame. But after staying within 9-4 at halftime, Albany managed just three tallies in the second half as SU pulled away.

"It's a little — it's a lot different," Albany sophomore attackman Connor Fields said. "With Lyle, he meshed with everyone so well. ... Today we weren't moving the ball as well as we usually do and that contributed to the loss."

Errant passes and mistimed cuts highlighted a number of Albany's unforced errors. The Great Danes (0-1) gave away three of their first four possessions and logged only four goals in the first half despite connecting on nearly half of their attempts.

"I don't think we played well," Marr said. "Nothing against what they did. I think they played very well. But we know in our locker room that we didn't play as well as we're capable of playing."

The Orange's offense was far from polished, putting only 33 of 59 shots on net, but its midfielders consistently beat sliding defenders. The resulting balanced effort was enough for a comfortable victory.

Dylan Donahue finished with a game-high five points while midfielders Derek DeJoe and Nick Mariano each registered hat tricks. A third midfielder, Matt Lane, contributed two goals and two assists.

"Before we left after the Hopkins loss last year [in the NCAA quarterfinals, we talked about how] that was kind of on our shoulders," DeJoe said. "Especially middies in general, people had to step up and take on that role to succeed."

For Syracuse, injuries to Tim Barber and Nick Piroli could force freshmen attackman Devin Shewell and Nate Solomon into significant minutes against Army next Sunday.

Albany has a chance to rebound against Drexel on Saturday before facing Cornell on March 5.

Said Great Danes goalie Blaze Riorden: "I don't think we're going to see us come out that flat again for the rest of the season. We're going to learn from this and continue to grow."

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