Despite dominating faceoff X, Virginia fails to overcome crushing Syracuse defense

first_img Published on March 2, 2013 at 12:11 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Thirty-seven seconds remained in regulation, Syracuse and Virginia were tied and SU head coach John Desko called timeout. A never-predictable box-to-box affair was set to end with as little certainty as the previous 59 minutes and 20 seconds had been played with.But both coaches addressed their players with one near-constant pulsing in their heads: faceoffs. The Cavaliers knew one last defensive stand and the ball was all-but theirs. The Orange had to score, because it couldn’t win them.“To myself,” Desko said, “I’m not telling the guys that. To myself, ‘It’d be nice not to come out and have to faceoff in overtime.’”Mick Parks edged every faceoff man Desko threw his way. First was Chris Daddio, then Elliott Burr, and after halftime, Brendan Conroy. Parks beat them all. And when an Orange faceoff specialist did gain the advantage, UVA wings like Scott McWilliams or Rob Emery would sweep in and hammer the ball free of an SU stick. The Cavaliers routinely scooped up the ensuing ground balls, and UVA swept into possession after possession.Yet despite losing battle after faceoff battle, 16-5, the Orange triumphed 9-8 with a neutralizing defense and thrifty attack. Knowing restart possessions would be few and far between – just five in 63 minutes of lacrosse Friday – SU couldn’t afford overly risky passes in the half-field.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“There was one or two times where I fed it in and I wished I’d kind of – some guys came to me after and said ‘All right, we know what you’re doing out there,’” midfielder JoJo Marasco said. “But our defense got us the ball back every time.”While the Orange defense kept it in the game, the frustration of starting faceoff man Daddio became impossible to hide.To start the second quarter Daddio gained position on Parks. With the ball just inches from his pocket the UVA cavalry arrived, knocking him out of the play. McWilliams, Parks’ wingman, came up with the ground ball. And as Daddio jogged off defeated for the sixth time on nine tries, he threw a cross-check into Emery.“We were just looking for a change-up. I think that Chris had got them out and we knew this going in: They’re great with their wing play on faceoffs, they’re very aggressive, they’ll double pull, they’ll always try to put the ball back on the ground,” Desko said.  “I’ve watched Virginia for a long time, they’re great ground-ball people. So if they’re not winning it their goal is to make checks and put the ball back on the ground and get it themselves or with their wings.”Burr took the next faceoff for Syracuse with 4:46 left in the second quarter and the game tied 4-4. He jumped the gun, giving the Cavaliers the ball. Ryan Tucker scored on the following possession.Parks cleanly beat Burr to start the second half. Conroy played out the remainder of regulation at the X, winning just one of six. Experience meant nothing. The junior Daddio struggled, as did his freshmen teammates. Parks is new to the X for UVA, too though. Virginia head coach Dom Starsia never expected him to take 76 percent against the Orange.“No, no. Overall, Mick’s a new faceoff guy for us and certainly it’s a little bit of an adventure,” Starsia said. “He’s pretty good. You know, and I thought we had a chance, but I really didn’t expect it – I don’t know the final stat but it seemed like we were a bit better.”But the goaltending of Bobby Wardwell and the physically dominant defending of Brian Megill, Brandon Mullins, Dave Hamlin and Kyle Carey punished the attacking Cavaliers just as badly as the UVA wings and Parks tormented SU’s faceoff men.Virginia beat the Orange 33-23 in ground balls, but with the ball on the ground in SU’s end Syracuse dominated. And in attack, SU took its time, circulating the ball around the perimeter and picking its spots. Just less than one of every three Orange shots was a goal.Still, with two potent attack forces waiting, only needing one chance to claim the full-field struggle as a win, Virginia knew it had the edge. Sure enough, Parks beat Daddio one more time, but Wardwell saved Matt White’s tame attempt, setting up Kevin Rice’s winner.Said Starsia: “We were certainly confident we were going to win the faceoff in the overtime.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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