Syracuse lacrosse opponent preview: What to know about Army

first_imgAfter rolling through the first two weeks of the season with wins over Siena and then-No. 12 Albany, No. 3 Syracuse (2-0) takes on Army (2-1) on Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Orange throttled the then-No. 12 Great Danes, 16-7, last Sunday with goals from nine different players.Early-season injuries have already reshuffled SU’s offensive lines — attack Nick Piroli is out and midfielder Tim Barber is likely to be back, though it’s not guaranteed, head coach John Desko said — and the Black Knights are without their greatest asset from last season.Here’s what to know ahead of Sunday afternoon’s matchup.All-time series: Army leads 39-23Last time they played: Ben Williams put together one of the finest performances in his breakout season against Army, going 21-of-25 from the X in Syracuse’s 12-9 win. Dominance on the draw allowed the Orange to hold possession for much of the game, and Dylan Donahue came through with five goals.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s such a smart player and he’s always taking what the defense gives him,” Army head coach Joe Alberici said of Donahue.Former attacks Kevin Rice and Randy Staats chipped in two goals apiece, and the Knights were led offensively with four goals from attack John Glesener, who has since graduated. Published on February 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman Daily Orange File Photo Numbers to know:.712 – Army’s faceoff percentage is tops in the Patriot league, but still less than SU’s 74 percent conversion rate, the second highest in the country.5 – Syracuse has allowed only five assists this year, a testament to its defense’s ability to inhibit ball movement while be more susceptible to fast-break situations.17 – The Orange’s goals-per-game average is third-highest in the country, and five different players with at least four goals in two games will spread the Black Knights’ defense thin.Player to watch: Despite the experience of Cook and Johnson, Jones might be Army’s best shooter on the field. Alberici said the freshman is out to show he’s not a “one-trick pony,” and evolve into a player capable of more than shooting.“When he gets his opportunities,” Alberici said of Jones, “he puts them in the back of the net. There’s always room for guys like that on the field.”Jones could draw the opposing matchup of the Mellen, also a freshman, who received his top assignment last week and held Albany’s Connor Fields scoreless. Comments The Army report: The biggest absence on the field for Army is Glesener, who led the team with 57 points and took almost double the shots of anyone else. Two-thirds of the starting attack in Connor Cook and Cole Johnson are returning, and each player has scored seven goals through three games.The biggest adjustment for the duo, Alberici said, is becoming acclimated to being guarded by teams’ top defenders. Last season it was Glesener who stretched the field for the Black Knights, and this year’s offense has a little more fluidity to it.“You don’t get completely away from what you believe in or what’s most effective,” Alberici said. “But it also would be foolish to try and do things that you’ve always done with different personnel.”Freshman Nate Jones leads the team with eight goals, but Army’s head coach doesn’t envision Jones as a primary ball-handler like Glesener was.Dan Grabher and Alex Daly, who combined to go 3-for-13 at the X against SU last year, return as the Black Knights’ primary faceoff men. Both have a faceoff percentage above 70 percent this year.How Army beats Syracuse: Alberici referred to this as his “the million-dollar question.” He immediately pointed to offensive efficiency and controlling Williams at the X, who prevented the Black Knights from possessing the ball 84 percent of the time off the draw last year.If Army can at least break even at the X, something that only happened twice against Williams once last year, the Black Knights can attack the Orange’s defense in transition. That’s likely to be the best way to score on SU, whose defense has the most holdover of any area of last year’s team. Even the lone newcomer to the line, freshman Nick Mellen, has showcased enough.“If the opportunity hits in the first 15 seconds (to score) in transition, then you absolutely have to take it,” Alberici said. “But you have to make sure you finish it. If there’s some more drawn out possessions, those gotta go to a quality opportunity.”The 11-year Army head coach conceded there’s “no scenario” to completely stop Syracuse from shooting, further emphasizing his team’s need to take advantage of quick opportunities on offense. Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories 4 underclassmen step up as role players in place of injured offensive startersHow Sergio Salcido became a starter for SyracuseWilliams wins 21-of-25 at faceoff X, propels Syracuse to 12-9 win over Army at homeGallery: Syracuse holds off No. 15 Army, 12-9, in Carrier Domelast_img

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