MLAX : On field for most of game, SU defense holds Wildcats offense

MLAX : On field for most of game, SU defense holds Wildcats offense

September 17, 2020 pfefptdfkerv 0

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman VILLANOVA, Pa. — The Syracuse defense couldn’t catch a break. Standing at one end of the field, it watched the offense give up turnovers at an alarming rate. When the unit thought it had a minute or so to regroup, Villanova was running right back toward it in a furious haste to score.There was no way to recover from the feelings of fatigue that the back-and-forth game brought.‘Talk about our defense being tired,’ SU head coach John Desko said. ‘Well, they probably should be tired when they played defense for most of the game tonight. We probably played defense for three quarters of the time.’And yet no matter how tired the Orange defense got during the course of the game, it never yielded a game-changing mistake. Instead, it clamped down on Villanova’s versatile offensive attack and never let the opportunity for Syracuse’s offense to score slip away. In a game in which that offense was far from its best, the defense never looked better.For the second consecutive game, SU’s defensive unit was left with the responsibility of holding the lead at all costs. In its last game against Johns Hopkins, the defense held the Blue Jays in check for four quarters and two overtimes. Against the Wildcats, it had to hold its opponent again. The Orange simply couldn’t find the back of the net. As the SU scorers have gone into a mini-slump, the defense has kept the Orange’s winning streak alive.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textVillanova couldn’t find the back of the net, either. The Syracuse defense held the Wildcats scoreless for a 36:22 stretch that spanned the second and fourth quarters. The Orange also forced 23 turnovers.Much of that has to do with the preparation of the unit. Now more than ever, the defense has the best chemistry. Any communication issue has been resolved, leaving room for near-perfect results. And that preparation was on display against Villanova.‘I think the first couple games, we were still finding our chemistry,’ SU defender John Lade said. ‘The last couple games, really we’ve been talking a lot better, watching a lot more film. We’ve been coming a lot more prepared.’The extra film is paying off. The Wildcats feature a two-headed offensive threat in attack Kevin Cunningham and Jack Rice, who lead the team in scoring with 21 and 18 goals, respectively. And during the game, the attention shifted to those two formidable scorers.Cunningham never found a way to break through Syracuse’s defense to get anywhere close to the net. He spent the game running around behind the cage, trying to get an open look. But he could never find one. When there was an opening, it was closed up almost immediately. Cunningham scored only one goal — albeit a very important one — with 57 seconds left to go in the game. Rice, on the other hand, was held scoreless.‘They were really good. They were big, physical,’ Cunningham said. ‘I thought we had some good looks on them, but we couldn’t cash in.’That was evidenced by a near 13-minute span in the first half during which the Wildcats were beaten down by an aggressive Orange defense and never scored. Syracuse’s defensive unit had to do exactly that, as the theme of another low-scoring affair developed early.Even when there were defensive breakdowns, SU goaltender John Galloway became even more of a force in the goal. On a night when his 51st career win tied the NCAA Division I record for most in a career, Galloway showed exactly what he’s done for each one to pile up.‘He played tonight like he always plays,’ Lade said. ‘He had a lot of great saves, he helped us out when the defense broke down, and I expect nothing less from him because he’s one of the best in the country.’Almost one year ago exactly, the Wildcats traveled up to Syracuse, where the Orange beat them in a 20-6 onslaught. SU scored five goals in each period. It was almost the complete opposite that took place between the two teams one year later.Coming into the day, though, that was to be expected. Villanova is now a higher nationally ranked program, and the Syracuse defense knew how important it was to be at its best.‘I think we executed pretty well,’ SU midfielder Jeremy Thompson said. ‘We did what we needed to do.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img

 

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