Syracuse (5-5) couldn't handle Cornell (9-1) on a cold Tuesday night in Ithaca. The teams were tied 3-3 at the half after a hard-fought battle by both teams, but Cornell took over in the third quarter, scoring 5 goals and eventually blowing past the Orange 12-6.
Here are three thoughts from the game:
1. Syracuse's success relies on possession...
When Syracuse has the ball, the team usually gets a good shot off or puts together a nice offensive possession. But the Orange struggle to get those possessions for a number of different reasons. The main reason being the lack of ability to grab face-offs. Today, the Orange grabbed just one face-off in the first half and took 8-for-22 overall. This created more possessions for Cornell and more opportunities to score. The Big Red outshot Syracuse 46-24 because of the control Cornell had over the ball.
Another factor that plays into possession is ground balls. Cornell picked up 39 ground balls in the game while the Orange picked up 23. Often times, a Syracuse defender would force the ball loose, but others couldn't capitalize and swipe up the ball. There were even times when the face-off player would move the ball to one of his teammates, and wouldn't be able to pick up the ground ball. When Syracuse takes possession of the ball, they can be dangerous, but they simply haven't been able to do that.
2. Consistency is key...
If Syracuse plays a consistent 60 minutes of lacrosse, I don't think there are many teams in the country who can beat the Orange. The problem with this is that the Orange have only put together a solid 60 once, maybe twice, this season. Today, the Orange were playing well against Cornell in the first half. It was an extremely entertaining game for the first two quarters. The Orange forced six first-half turnovers and gave up just four. The team had also failed to clear just one time. Then the second-half came along and everything changed. The Orange couldn't stop coughing up the ball and Cornell capitalized, taking a commanding lead. Syracuse turned the ball over 14 times in the second half and failed to clear the ball three times - after having a pretty successful season doing so. The team gave the game away, which has been a theme all season. The Orange have hints of greatness, but they can't seem to put together 60 minutes of quality lacrosse.
3. There is no real solution in net...
It's time for Orange fans to face the reality that John Galloway isn't going to step back between the pipes for the Orange anytime soon. Bobby Wardwell got his second NCAA start tonight and didn't impress many people. On a couple occassions, he made some terrible mistakes that resulted in easy Cornell goals, and he didn't get saves when the team needed stops. Wardwell made 12 saves, which isn't terrible. None of the three goalies who have played this season have really had a terrible performance. They are all just mediocre, which is what Orange fans are going to have to deal with in the net this season. There was a point in the game when Matt Lerman started warming up behind the Syracuse bench, which could suggest that he is next in line to get another crack at the starting position. Regardless of who is in the net, the Orange are going to have to rely heavily on its defense if it wants to find success throughout the rest of the season.
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