Face-offs, ground balls key in SU men’s LAX win over Army

Face-offs, ground balls key in SU men'x LAX win over Army

Syracuse won face-offs 17-4 against Army.
Published: February 24, 2019
Syracuse beats Army 10-8
Senior Nate Solomon scores a diving goal.

Despite nearly sacrificing a four-goal cushion in the second half, the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team held on to escape the Carrier Dome with a 10-8 victory over No. 15-ranked Army.

The Orange, ranked No. 20 in the nation in last week’s poll, elevates to 2-1 on the young season, having bounced back admirably from an opening defeat at the hands of Colgate to come away with a second consecutive ranked victory. John Desko’s squad defeated Albany, then ranked 14th nationally, at home last Saturday.

“I think the game was about as I thought it might go,” said 21st-year head coach Desko after the game. “We knew that Army was going to play for 60 minutes like they always do.”

Syracuse was led on the afternoon by the trio of Jacob Buttermore, David Lipka, and Nate Solomon, each of whom scored two goals, with Buttermore adding an assist to lead the Orange with three total points. Four more Orange players recorded one goal apiece.

Army was led by two-goal efforts from Matt Manown and Liam Davenport.

A back-and-forth opening that lasted 30 minutes ultimately saw Syracuse enter the halftime locker room with a 5-3 lead. The Orange would go on to open up a 7-3 advantage before Army snapped an 18-minute scoring drought and a 4-0 Orange run near the midway point of the third quarter.

From there, the Black Knights would trim the lead to one at 8-7 with 11:15 to play in the fourth, and the Orange would never again lead by more than two goals.

With the lead at just one, 9-8, late in the game, the Syracuse essentially iced the win with Lipka’s second goal of the game at the 1:10 mark and an ensuing face-off won by Jakob Phaup.

Phaup won 15 of his 18 faceoffs on the day, with the Orange dominating possession by winning 17 of 21 total face-offs and picking up 41 ground balls compared to Army’s 26.

“[Phaup] did an outstanding job,” Desko said of his sophomore face-off specialist. “They threw the kitchen sink at him today. He did a tremendous job of getting the ball out to space and then picking it up and running with it and getting it to the open man. As a result, it gave us a lot of possessions that we might not have had in different situations.

He continued: “We made them play a lot of defense. They’re in outstanding shape obviously, but it’s hard to make anybody play that much defense.”

Desko’s own defense countered with a respectable effort of its own, allowing just five goals to Albany last week, the lowest total allowed by an Orange defense against a ranked team since 2012.

Junior goalkeeper Drake Porter recorded a career-high 16 saves. With just five career saves entering the season, Porter has now finished with double-digit saves in all three games of his junior year.

Syracuse beats Army 10-8

“We got some great saves once again,” Desko said. “[Porter] did a very nice job in goal in his first year starting. Our defense played pretty well the whole game as far as understanding their personnel and doing what we had to do. A couple mental errors on the defensive end of the field, but in all I think they played pretty stingy today.”

The game took place exactly a year from last season’s tilt with Army, a thrilling 11-10 victory that came in triple-overtime fashion. It was the 66th matchup between the Orange and the Black Knights, more than any SU opponent besides Hobart and Cornell. While Army holds an all-time 40-26 advantage in the series, Syracuse has now won 21 of the last 24 meetings against the in-state rival Black Knights.

After a disappointing loss in the season opener, it looks as though things are clicking at the right time for Desko’s team after two straight tough wins. The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Orange from here, as their next five opponents — Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, Duke and Notre Dame — are all either ranked or receiving votes in the latest national rankings.

Syracuse beats Army 10-8
Players celebrate after scoring the final goal of the game. Syracuse won 10-8.
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Andrew Kuppers is a contributor to TheNewsHouse.com