Syracuse maintains ‘DNA,’ recovers after sloppy defensive start in 14-10 win over Johns Hopkins

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Drake Porter walked 15 yards out of the net and looked right and left. “For a first-year starter,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said, Porter has brought a poised approach to many of those situations. He flagged a midfielder on the left side, and cradled. The ball popped from his pocket.But nobody came — Porter was alone. He scooped the ball and lifted his head. After the season-opener, where the Orange were dominated in possession, SU identified two problems that led a possession struggle: ground balls and clears. Porter was stout in the net, but defenders and the junior starting his first game action sometimes threw the ball away up the field. He improved, and the Orange did too.But Saturday, he was “anxious,” Desko said. He walked two more steps and fired the ball to the midfielder he saw open just seconds earlier. The Blue Jays countered with an interception. Porter turned, and bolted back to the net to stop Johns Hopkins, to stop the game from tumbling to disaster.In an eventual 14-10 win over the No. 18 Blue Jays (2-3), the No. 14 Orange (3-2, 0-1 Atlantic coast) nearly unraveled as a result from sloppy plays on the defensive side of the field. Misfires on clears, second-chances in front of the net and ground ball mishandlings from Syracuse propelled Johns Hopkins to an early lead, only to be flipped by a negation of those mistakes. The Orange, who repeatedly push from one end of the field to the other, were nearly undone by its transition-heavy style.“It’s in our DNA as players: we like to push the ball,” defensive midfielder Peter Dearth said. “Our whole defensive unit, we all feel capable…”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange have long focused on their ability to maintain possession. It has been the reason behind many of its triumphs in the early part of the season, and their failure has exposed its worst stretches. Coming into the game, Johns Hopkins knew it needed to attack, goalkeeper Ryan Darby said. From the early part of the game, Blue Jays head coach Dave Pietramala said his team “pressed” with both its offensive and defensive unit.With a couple early wins on the faceoff, JHU went on a run and grabbed an early 5-1 lead. During the run, Porter’s saves found Johns Hopkins for second chances and the Orange frequently lost scrambles for ground balls in front of the net. Rather than sailing line drive shots to the right, left or above the cage, Johns Hopkins attack Kyle Marr said the Blue Jays aimed more frequently for Porter’s body. Though many of their early shots misfired, rebounds and resets gave the Blue Jays second-chances that — early in the game — it converted.When the possession leaned Syracuse’s way, the Orange tried to take advantage with plays in transition. Tyson Bomberry tried to cradle through multiple groups of Johns Hopkins defenders. He muscled through two defenders at the midline, but 10 yards later the ball popped out of his stick after two more JHU defenders trapped him on the sideline.Between mishandled passes on the offensive end and a few goals to gather a rhythm before the end of the first frame, Syracuse’s chances came at a premium. After a faceoff win, Jared Fernandez leapt and spun to pass the ball to midfield, but his pass found no one. Two quarters later, as the Orange tried to find room to push ahead, Bomberry’s pass fired wide to fellow-defender Nick Mellen on the sideline as the two athletic long poles tried to lead a break of their own.With the game tied at eight, Marcus Cunningham got a stick on a pass and knocked the ball to the ground. He scooped the ground ball, but it was popped out of his pocket and tumbled in the direction of the goal. The Blue Jays took advantage, and tallied a go-ahead score.Porter struggled to cradle the ball, midfielders and defenders struggled to pass the ball and the Syracuse struggled to string together multiple possessions.“I don’t know if it’s the tightness coming out,” Desko said of the sloppy play. “We’re 2-2, and we really wanted to get the win here in the Carrier Dome.”Johns Hopkins looked for inverts and defensive slides. In the first half, they got them. They sliced through Syracuse’s defense, fired once, and then fired again. The third quarter was “sloppy for both teams,” Pietramala said. But in the fourth quarter, Syracuse flipped the momentum.To counter free-flowing play in front of the net, the Orange ran a lot of zone defense, Desko said. The same plays that would give Johns Hopkins free space in the beginning of the game, Syracuse pushed another player up to bump out the Blue Jays attack. On multiple plays, Porter sprinted out of the net and pushed his stick forward on an attack by the crease. The offensive player, not expecting Porter’s hit, lost his balance and was forced to reset as Porter clamped back between the posts.The Orange ran Brett Kennedy and Jared Fernandez on the wings for the faceoffs, and SU dominated on ground balls, finishing with a 29-23 advantage after the first quarter.“11-2 in the fourth quarter on ground balls,” Pietramala said. “That says it all.”As Johns Hopkins “sat back” in the fourth, the Orange pushed forward. The Blue Jays knew the game plan — the one they had been practicing all week and the one that they perfected for most of the first half — to beat the Orange and force mistakes. But, in the fourth quarter, Syracuse took control, and JHU lost focus.Up two goals near the end of the fourth quarter, earlier sloppy play didn’t stop the Orange from going back to what it does best. Kennedy sprinted from the defensive end off a pass from Bomberry. The right sideline was open, and Kennedy attacked.“It was open,” Kennedy said, “… Why not just let it go?”Kennedy stopped, wound back and fired. After a game of back and forth play, the Orange didn’t let go of the style that’s in their “DNA.” And, finally, it worked.center_img Published on March 9, 2019 at 6:09 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcClearylast_img read more