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MLAX : SU struggling to keep possession late in games

first_img Comments Published on March 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13 JoJo Marasco was one move away from being in the clear. With less than 80 seconds remaining in Saturday’s 5-4 win over Villanova, Syracuse head coach John Desko put the ball in the stick of the sophomore attack with his team up by a goal.The task was simple: run out the final 1:17 and preserve a victory.‘I thought I was going to be able to run out the clock,’ Marasco said. ‘Coach told me not to make too many moves, and I was going to make that last move and just run it behind. Hopefully outrun them.’But a well-timed check from Villanova’s Brian Karalunas poked the ball free, and the Wildcat defender took off downfield to set up the tying goal.It’s a series of events that has reared its ugly head twice so far already against the Orange, and the season is only at its midway point. Two weeks before Marasco’s blunder, midfielder Jovan Miller lost the ball in a game against Georgetown that allowed the Hoyas to sprint downfield and score to send the game into overtime. An inability to protect the ball late in games isn’t a good sign for a team hoping to make push to the final four.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the Orange’s first trip away from home of the season on March 12 against Georgetown, Desko called timeout when his team had possession with 1:16 to go. Much like this past Saturday, he entrusted Marasco to essentially play keep-away from the Hoyas defense and not make a mistake.But when Marasco was double-teamed with 43 seconds left, Desko called another timeout and assigned the task to Miller. He was harassed by GU’s Gerry Reilly and dropped the ball. Reilly sprinted downfield, ripped a shot from the right of the goal and stunned Syracuse by tying the game with five seconds left.‘We expected as a defense knowing that we were going to keep the ball up top and try and keep it from going behind,’ SU goaltender John Galloway said after the eventual win over Georgetown. ‘We knew if anything went wrong, they had an opportunity to get the ball up the field quickly.’And in both those chances the Orange had to preserve the game, it has gone wrong. Miller and Marasco each turned the ball over, and the opponent took advantage with a long sprint the other way to set up a transition goal.Though Galloway knows those chances are possible, he’s 0-for-2 in save situations this season. It’s something the senior certainly isn’t pleased with thus far.‘Whatever happened there, you just have to make that save,’ he said.Close games mean smaller rotationOf the Orange’s seven wins, five of them have come by a combined seven goals. Three have come by one goal. And two have come in overtime.Put simply, there hasn’t been any room for error.‘It’s been difficult with the kinds of games that we’ve been in,’ Desko said following his team’s win over Albany on March 15. ‘We’ve been in these one- and two-goal games, and you bring somebody in and they’re cold. They turn the ball over, and you kind of question yourself.’And with those thoughts playing through his head, the SU head coach has kept his younger players off the field for the most part. Of the 54 players on Syracuse’s roster, only 25 have made appearances in at least five games this season. Much of the monster 19-member freshman class hasn’t gotten a chance to gain any experience.Though the team’s record remains perfect at 7-0, Desko said he needs to find ways to get these younger players on the field. At any given moment, a starter can go down. And with a bench that is filled with inexperience and youth, a drop-off in ability is likely to follow.‘If we had an injury, we’ve got to get some of these guys some game experience for the future,’ Desko said. ‘I think that’s the silver lining that we’ll take out of it.’The silver lining he spoke of was a game against Albany in which the Orange cruised to a comfortable 18-13 victory. Desko was able to mix in a wealth of younger players and finally give the future of his program some minutes.Eleven different players scored for Syracuse in that game, and nine different players tallied an assist.‘It was great tonight that these guys could get in and feel comfortable and find their way,’ Desko said following the game.Chris Daddio is one freshman, though, who has been making his presence felt on the field this season, despite all of the close games. He’s appeared in all seven games SU has played, taking 47 faceoffs for the Orange. He’s won 21 of them — second most behind senior Jeremy Thompson.Daddio’s best moment of the season came in that game against Georgetown. After the Hoyas stunningly sent the game to overtime, Daddio won the opening faceoff. SU never relinquished possession, and a few minutes later Stephen Keogh netted the game-winner.It was an important play by a first-year player that didn’t go unnoticed by one of the veterans.‘Daddio comes out as a freshman and makes a great play to get the ball back to me after winning the faceoff,’ Galloway said. ‘It’s one thing on the stat sheet, but that probably won us the game.’mjcohe02@syr.edu— Staff writer Zach Brown contributed reporting to this article.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more