Story by Joel Godett
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse took more shots, it cleared more efficiently, it scooped more ground balls, it assisted on all but three of its goals, and it outdueled Johns Hopkins 14-11 in front of 9,197 at the Carrier Dome Saturday.
“You’ve got to pick up ground balls, and you’ve got to pass and catch,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “You can’t beat a team, let alone a good team like Syracuse, if you’re going to surrender that many possessions to them.”
SU out fought JHU 17-7 on first half ground balls. It broke up two fourth quarter clears and caused multiple turnovers elsewhere, including the first two times the Blue Jays held the ball. There were points where it seemed like the Orange played endless offense, Pietramala guessing for about three quarters of the game.
“I don’t expect to give up 14 goals to anybody,” Pietramala said. “I take that personally. We asked our goalie to give us at least 15 saves. Mike [Gvozden] gave us that tonight…We wasted a courageous effort by [Matt Dolente] at the faceoff X. Defensively we were selfish early, and we didn’t slide early…We just didn’t follow our plan the way we should have.”
Part of Hopkins’ defensive gameplan included polling an extra midfielder and leaving a short-stick on an attack down low, something Syracuse was able to figure out.
“We knew we just had to dodge hard to the cage and draw the slide and find the open man,” Orange midfielder Matt Abbott said. “If we executed our offense we’d get good shots, and we just tried to put smart shots on cage. [Shots] fell for us today.”
Another part of that plan was not to let sophomore Josh Amidon shoot within 18 feet. He scored three times to lead SU, with all those looks coming from relatively in front of the net. Orange coach John Desko said the coaching staff would like to see him begin dodging more as part of the ‘grooming’ process to take over as a big offensive gun next year.
All three of Amidon’s goals were assisted, and the SU passing game was exquisite at times, with six different players dishing out helpers. Kenny Nims led the way with three, including one to Tim Desko in the second quarter. That goal gave Syracuse a 7-3 lead and capped a 6-0 run. Maybe more devastating was that the tally came off a fast break and immediately out of a timeout.
With both clubs just back out on the field, sophomore pole Peter Swerz lost control of the ball with SU’s Jovan Miller rolling over his back. The Orange took off running and scored with two doorstep passes – the last from Nims to the coach’s son.
“One minute you think they’re going to shoot it, and then the next minute somebody’s open on the back door for a quicker finish,” Hopkins keeper Michael Gvozden said. “They took a lot of shots, but they also moved the ball in times where I thought they were going to shoot the ball. They’re very slick and very talented.”
But it wasn’t all roses for the ‘Cuse. After being manhandled by Georgetown on faceoffs last week, Syracuse ran out to a hot start, taking seven of the first nine. Josh Knight won the only two he took, including the game’s first. However, Knight left the game in the first half with what Coach Desko called a muscle pull. Hopkins took 15 of the game’s final 20 faceoffs, several of which where the Orange was called for violations.
“I think some things need to change on the faceoff,” Desko said. “I’ve watched some scouting films and watched some other teams play. I saw a couple games where half of the face-offs were violations. If that’s the case, than something’s wrong with how we’re doing it. I think it warrants a lot more discussion because it just needs to be cleaned up…but for now, we’ve just got to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Another area of concern was closing out the game. Hopkins finished scoring five goals over the final 4:04, including three in the final 1:30. That drew the score within three with 34 seconds to play. The first of the run came with Chris Boland finding an empty net when SU goalie John Galloway left to play a loose ball. Kyle Wharton got there first and was credited with the assist.
“You never want to give up like that, you want to keep pushing all game,” sophomore longstick-middie Joel White said. “I think there were 25 seconds left [sic] when they scored to get within three, so I never think it was a close game. At the same time, you can’t have them coming back. We’ve done that, so we know how that goes.”
Syracuse holds court at the Carrier Dome again next weekend, hosting Binghamton on Saturday. Johns Hopkins plays Saturday night against Virginia in Baltimore.
ORANGE PEELS: Jovan Miller was quoted in the Syracuse Post-Standard this week about the Orange-Blue Jays rivalry. He said: "There's definitely more hate," Miller said. "I think with a Virginia team it's more of a competition to just see who has the biggest guns. I think there's more respect behind that. I think the Hopkins-Syracuse thing is more like who hates who the most. It's something that is inherited. When you put on the SU uniform you just don't like Hopkins. You don't know why, and then all of a sudden you get into a few games (with them) and you understand why."
Miller was asked about the comments post-game and said: “I kind of misspoke on that. I didn’t mean it was more like hate. I meant more like mutual respect. But when you’re out on the field, obviously you’re not going to shake their hand or anything like that.”
When asked if he had read the comments, Pietramala said: “I have too much respect for John Desko and the Syracuse program to even talk about it. John Desko has done a great job here. The game is decided on the field, so there’s really not much to talk about there.”
Saturday’s win also marked the Orange’s third in a row over the Blue Jays. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1988, and only the second time in series history. Pietramala pointed to the ‘bumps in the road’ Syracuse has gone through over the past couple of years (presumably eluding to the missed Final Four in 2005, and missed post-season in 2007) as a possible reason for their current run.
“Last year Syracuse invested more than they have in a long, long time,” Pietramala said. “They had very good senior leadership. I guess simply put they were hungry. They’re playing very hard for their coaches, they’re listening to their coaches and they’re playing hungry. We haven’t had that misstep so to speak, and I think sometimes we may take that for granted. The greatest difference in them the last two years is that they’ve invested an awful lot, and when you invest a lot, you’re not willing to surrender.”
|Matt Abbott||(2, 2)|
|Kenny Nims||(1, 3)|
|Josh Amidon||(3, 0)|
|Dan Hardy||(1, 2)|
|Scott Kahoe||(0, 2)|
|Pat Perritt||(2, 0)|
|Stephen Keogh||(2, 0)|
|Tim Desko||(1, 0)|
|Jeff Gilbert||(1, 0)|
|Joel White||(0, 1)|
|Spencer Van Schaack||(1, 0)|
|Chris Daniello||(0, 1)|
|John Galloway||5 (0.313)|