March 12, 2011

No. 1 Syracuse Guts Out OT win Over Hoyas

by Gary Lambrecht | laxmagazine.com

SIDEBAR: Georgetown Takes Step Foward in Defeat

Stephen Keogh had four goals, including the overtime winner, as Syracuse survived Georgetown 9-8 in overtime.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE - The signs were evident throughout its grinding, 9-8, overtime victory over Georgetown on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Top-ranked Syracuse was not on its game, did not look particularly ready to play.  The Orange showed it in the ground ball battle it lost, in the number of fouls it committed, in the way it failed to protect a two-goal lead late in regulation over a Hoyas team that owned the game’s tempo pretty much from the start.

In the end, though, all that mattered was the Cuse found a way to get it done on a day they deserved to go down at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic.

All that mattered was, after Georgetown defensive midfielder Gerry Reilly stunned the Orange by finishing a 40-yard, transition sprint with a seven-yard runner from the right wing to tie the score at 8-8 with five seconds left in regulation, Syracuse answered at the most critical time.

First, freshman Ricky Buhr won the opening draw, which also turned out to be the only face-off of the extra period. Then, after Georgetown set up in a zone defense that had confounded the Orange for large chunks of the contest, senior attackman Stephen Keogh drifted open on the left wing, took a feed from senior midfielder Jovan Miller, and buried a 10-yard shot with 2:19 left to end it.

Keogh finished with a team-high four goals to lead the Orange (4-0) to its fifth consecutive victory over Georgetown (2-3). The Orange was as relieved as it was happy about the outcome, given how the Hoyas dictated the pace, despite the fact that Georgetown never led.

“We were a little disheveled,” said Syracuse coach John Desko. “Georgetown really came ready to play. They were after the ground balls. They showed us a lot of zone [defenses], and really made us change our offenses and think about what we were doing. This was our first road trip. Maybe there was some adjusting we needed to do about that.”

Desko added that a change in practice routine last week could have played a role in how sloppy the Orange was at times. Syracuse practiced in part at the half-field, Manley Field House, instead of the Carrier Dome, which they are sharing with the football team during its spring ball season.

The Hoyas, who got a game-high five goals from sophomore attackman David Emala, dominated the ground ball game (41-27) and held Syracuse to 29 shots. Syracuse also committed 16 turnovers and seven penalties.

The Hoyas, who were coming off a 16-15 loss to Harvard and entered the game having surrendered a whopping, 14.25 goals per game, did what they had to do by slowing the game to a clock-bleeding crawl. Georgetown set the tone by drawing stall warnings on two of its first three possessions. The Hoyas then started going to a zone defense that bottled up the Orange in its six-on-six game.

“We just put in the zone two days ago,” said Hoyas senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann, who shadowed Syracuse attackman/midfielder JoJo Marasco (two goals) for much of the day. “After our game against Harvard, we knew we had to try to slow the game down a little bit.”

The strategy nearly worked. The Orange scored the game’s first two goals, led at the half by a 4-2 count, and led by two goals on four other occasions in the second half. On three of those occasions, Emala scored to keep Syracuse within reach, as the Orange never extended their lead to three goals.

Orange senior goalie John Galloway (13 saves) kept Syracuse from cracking, although Georgetown nearly broke through in a fourth quarter during which the Hoyas generated four goals on 11 shots. After Emala got his fifth goal to cut the Syracuse lead to 8-7 with 2:19 left in regulation by scoring off a loose-ball scramble on top of the crease, Galloway stuffed Emala on a bouncing, eight-yard shot from the left side with 1:33 left.

But Syracuse got sloppy again, as it tried to run out the clock. Senior midfielder Jovan Miller, while running away from a double-team along the left sideline, dropped the ball with 15 seconds left. Defenseman Chris Nourse picked it up, found Reilly running free near midfield, and watched Reilly sprint down the right alley and beat Galloway with five seconds left in regulation with an eight-yard runner in the upper left corner.

Syracuse gathered itself and took care of business. After the Orange settled into their offensive set by tossing the ball around the perimeter of the Georgetown zone, Miller flipped the ball from up top to Keogh, whom Nouse allowed to break free just long enough to catch and shoot the game-winner.

“Fortunately, we were patient with our zone offense,” said Desko, sounding glad to slip out of Baltimore with a win.


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