Syracuse men’s lacrosse roundtable: Offense by committee, SU’s identity and weakness

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ No. 8 Syracuse (6-3, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) has won three straight games, including two top 10 victories over Notre Dame and Duke. The Orange has held opponents to their season-low goal totals in each of its last two games. With three conference wins, Syracuse has already clinched a share of the ACC regular season title.Our beat writers take on three questions facing Syracuse as it enters the homestretch of its regular season slate.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerLast year, Syracuse had two dominant scorers in Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido. Can this season’s offense by committee produce enough for the Orange?AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCharlie DiSturco: Yes. As mentioned, Syracuse doesn’t have its two-headed monster that took over late in games last year anymore. But the two have been replaced by a balanced attack where any player can take over and dominate — and the offense is much deeper than last year. The Orange has its go-to option in Jamie Trimboli and new facilitator at the X in Stephen Rehfuss, and new faces have broken out to minimize the losses of two first-team All-Americans. Tucker Dordevic has been great, and both Brendan Curry and David Lipka are also beginning to draw a lot more attention. Tack on Bradley Voigt’s increase in productivity and both Nate Solomon and Brendan Bomberry’s similar seasons to 2017, and this offense has what it takes to bring SU deep into the postseason. We saw that against Duke, when the Orange hung 15 on the Blue Devils.Matt Liberman: Yes. Many think that the scoring was so different last season because Mariano and Salcido both earned USILA First-Team All-America honors and were the focal points of the offense. But in reality, the offense was very balanced last season. Mariano and Salcido accounted for 31.1 percent of the team’s total points from last season. SU’s two leading scorers from this year, Stephen Rehfuss and Jamie Trimboli, have accounted for 30.8 percent of the team’s total points through nine games. In reality, the team looks nearly identical offensively to last season. Nate Solomon and Brendan Bomberry have provided close to the same production as in 2017, and Tucker Dordevic has stepped up and filled the role of a facilitator from the midfield. Last year’s team scored slightly more than the 2018 version, but with an easier end to the schedule, the Orange could easily reach last year’s scoring average with one offensive outburst.Josh Schafer: Yes. In Syracuse’s most recent game it showed what happens to one dimensional teams. Hobart’s top three scorers, all members of the attack, were held to one assist combined. As a result, the Hobart offense looked stagnant and struggled. Since scoring three goals against Albany in the second game of the season, Syracuse’s offense hasn’t struggled to score. SU currently has four players with more than 20 points, putting it on par with both Cornell and Duke, whose offenses rank second and third in the country, respectively. The Orange doesn’t have the leading goal scorer like Duke’s Justin Guterding or Cornell’s Jeff Teat, but it hasn’t needed that scorer thus far.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerSU has a split personality of sorts. It’s undefeated in the ACC but 3-3 in nonconference and has won games behind offense or with defense. So what is this team’s identity?C.D.: Syracuse is a team where its youth will sometimes result in bad losses, but when figured out, the Orange is so strong both offensively and defensively, it can beat anyone in the country. There are times where, as multiple players and head coach John Desko said, the offense will settle for weak shots, or force passes when losing that result in turnovers. That was evident against both Johns Hopkins and Rutgers (both bad losses). But then there’s times where the offense and defense put it all together, and not even an experience team can come close to downing SU (Notre Dame). There’s no real veteran on the first line that can help settle everything down when things begin to spiral and that could be the death of SU, but its youth has also been the reason the Orange pulls out tight wins against Virginia and Duke.M.L.: The identity of this SU team is built through its sophomores: Jamie Trimboli and Danny Varello and redshirt sophomores Nick Mellen and Stephen Rehfuss. Rehfuss and Trimboli have proven to be the focal points of the offense. Rehfuss facilitates from behind the net, while Trimboli spaces the offense from the top of the restricted area. When the offense is clicking, it is because of those two, as shown in wins over Duke, Notre Dame and Hobart. Mellen has continued to prove why he is one of the best in the game, holding Justin Guterding, Ryder Garnsey and Chris Aslanian to a combined four points. When he is on his game, SU’s defense can beat anyone. And lastly, part of the identity must come through Varello. He’s the one person game-in and game-out that can determine any game because of the importance of the faceoff position. That specialist should be part of the identity of every team.J.S.: Syracuse is a team that controls the pace of play. Yes, it can win games through either offense or defense but in all of its conference wins it has won by dictating the game. Against Virginia, Syracuse slowed down the Cavaliers’ quick strike offense. Against Duke, the Orange lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 15 goals and last Saturday Syracuse suffocated Notre Dame’s offense. In each contest, Syracuse forced its opposition to utilize someone other than the No.1 scoring option. And that’s not to discount the fact that the Orange is undefeated in one-goal games this season. All three of its losses spiraled out of control with SU failing to clamp down on its opponents’ runs. But, when Syracuse plays tight games, it has proven it can finish.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerSyracuse has shown it can play with good teams. What is the Orange’s biggest weakness that could keep it from making a deep postseason run?C.D.: Syracuse’s glaring weakness is its struggles at the faceoff X. Sophomore Danny Varello has not been the same player he was last year — whenever he subbed for Ben Williams — and there have been times where Varello is absolutely dominated. Controlling possession is so important to winning lacrosse games, and Syracuse has been unable to consistently do so. If it weren’t for Nick Martin going 5-for-5 on the last handful of faceoffs against Duke, the Orange would’ve lost that game handily. We’ve seen what happens when SU gets killed in the faceoff battle — Albany and Johns Hopkins ran away with easy wins — and there seems to be no indication of an uptick in faceoff production at this time. If SU wants to make a deep run into the playoffs and not struggle as the season winds down, it will need to figure out how to attack faceoffs — whether it be by implementing a committee or using its wings differently. The team won’t make it far in the postseason without a change in production at the faceoff X.M.L.: This is an easy choice: faceoffs. SU has struggled all season long from the faceoff X, winning the battle in just three of its nine games thus far this season. If SU wants to score goals and win games, it has to possess the ball first. The Orange has neutralized the faceoff in some games, forcing opponents to continuously turn the ball over. Such was the case in wins against then-No. 3 Duke and No. 7 Notre Dame. But when the defense hasn’t turned the ball over and loses the faceoff battle, SU has been blown out, as proven by losing to Albany and Johns Hopkins by a combined 23 goals. In order to win, two of the following must be playing well: offense, defense, faceoffs. In SU’s six wins they have gotten production from at least two. In its three losses, Syracuse hasn’t.J.S.: While Matt has a good point that faceoffs are a weakness, it’s the scoring runs that lost faceoffs often lead to that have been SU’s kryptonite. Prior to the game against Notre Dame, SU had allowed at least a four-goal run in each game against a ranked opponent. Against Albany, a 7-1 third quarter derailed any chance SU had at a comeback. Johns Hopkins ripped off two 5-0 runs on Syracuse to pummel the Orange. Rutgers scored seven-straight through the end of the third quarter and into the fourth. All three games resulted in Syracuse losses. Even Syracuse players have pointed out the issue. SU defender Nick Mellen highlighted how important not letting up those runs in his teams two most recent wins were. If Syracuse can continue the trend of playing tough defense and preventing runs, it will be in good shape. Comments Published on April 4, 2018 at 9:56 pmlast_img

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