Syracuse vs. Hobart
April 19, 2011
The Game Story:
Syracuse, NY -- They are lacrosse’s version of offensive linemen, guys who get their jerseys dirty in the trenches but rarely see their names in the newspaper.
They are short-stick defensive midfielders, and on a Tuesday night when a lot when right for the No. 4 Syracuse University lacrosse team in a workmanlike 13-7 victory over Hobart before a Carrier Dome crowd of 4,340, they stood above the pack.
So here’s to junior Kevin Drew, who enjoyed the first two-goal game of his SU career. And here’s to senior Tim Harder, who accepted the challenge of marking a Hobart attackman. And here’s to junior Joe Moore, who joined Drew and Harder in giving Hobart precious few looks and were pivotal in kick-starting SU’s transition game.
“I think our short sticks have been playing very well,” SU coach John Desko said. “As we all know, most teams try to pick on the short sticks and get you to slide. What is a weakness for some teams has turned into a strength for us.”
That strength was on display in abundance during a game in which the SU defense welcomed the return of senior All-America close defender John Lade (ankle) to the starting lineup following a four-game absence. The offense produced 13 goals from 10 different players and outshot the visitors 45-21. The man-up unit awakened with a 3-for-5 performance.
All were good signs. Yet, the defensive middies paved the way to victory. Consider:
The use of long poles Joel White and Matt Harris on the wings for faceoffs helped the Orange (11-1) hold ace Bobby Datillo (.658) and the Statesmen (5-7) to a 50 percent game at the X (12-for-24), erasing Hobart’s lone advantage entering the contest. Desko was able to employ the strategy because Harder was able to shut off a Hobart attackman, freeing the second pole for wing duty.
With the three d-middies handling the ball with the skill of veteran offensive players once SU gained possession after a stop, the Orange was an exceptional 21-for-22 on clears.
The defense of the short sticks helped force 20 Hobart turnovers. The crisp clears allowed SU to do what it does best – get up and down the field in a hurry.
“We’ve been working on fast breaks a lot in practice,” Drew said. “Our midfielder are always trying to score on us, and lately we’ve been trying to get back at them . . . you know, keep a little running score. We’ve been scoring some goals lately.”
Tuesday, Drew hung around on offense after a successful clear midway through the second quarter and suddenly cut hard toward the cage. JoJo Marasco fed him for a layup and a 6-2 lead. Drew stayed on again in the third quarter, got free from a crowd in front of the crease and converted a Jovan Miller pass into a goal and a 12-4 Orange lead that brought on the reserves.
“It was fun to get up and down the field again,” Drew said. “So many teams try to slow us down, but we’ve been working on it. We had a great time out there.”
So did Lade, who played three quarters and looked fine, at one point feeding Harris with a long clearing pass that resulted in the freshman’s first career goal.
“It felt good to be back,” he said. “The ankle’s good.”
So was the Orange, pretty much from start to finish, as Stephen Keogh’s goal with 10:04 left in the opening quarter put the team up 2-1 and it never looked back in retaining the Kraus-Simmons Trophy for the 23rd time in 25 years.
“My kids played hard from start to finish,” Hobart coach TW Johnson said. “But the bottom line is they had the ball a lot more than we did. With a team as slick on offense as they are you can’t let that happen.”
Thanks in large part to the work of SU’s defensive midfielders, who usually toil in anonymity, it did.