Thursday, March 3, 2011

game preview: Syracuse

Date/Time: Fri., March 4th; 6:00


Record against the Orange: 14-12

Last matchup: UVA 11, Cuse 10; 3/7/10; Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 22, VMI 6 (2/28); Cuse 11, Army 9 (2/27)

Time for a clash of titans. It's like Duke vs. Kentucky in basketball. UVA and Syracuse are co-#1s, the first meeting in history between two such teams. This game, as per usual, is for the right to be #1 outright, though usually it's a 1 vs. 2 thing. It's also historically a close matchup. The typical UVA-Syracuse game is decided by a single goal. Sometimes two. The last game between these two teams at Syracuse's dark, cavernous Carrier Dome drew over 16,000 fans. Yeah, it's big.


- Win a few face-offs. Yup, the old bug is back, and worse than before. UVA's face-off men are winning less than 50% of their draws, even going just 17-for-30 against hapless VMI, and getting killed, as usual, by Stony Brook. It's a testament to the quality of everything else UVA does that they're undefeated despite being so rotten on face-offs. Cuse has played two games against quality opponents - Denver and Army - and is winning 66% of their draws, an excellent number. If we only let them win 66% on Friday, even that poor showing should help us out, because the offense is efficient enough to make good on its chances. Get beat 75-25 and major problems will start happening.

- Dominate the fourth quarter. Because these games always go down to the last whistle, the fourth is where it's at. Dominating the fourth is what won the Drexel game; getting dominated in the fourth is what almost lost the Stony Brook one. Syracuse's opponents have outscored them in the fourth 7-3, mostly thanks to Army's furious 5-2 rally.


- Holes in the defense. There can be none. Cuse gets very good, balanced scoring. Their attackmen - Tim Desko, Steven Keogh, and JoJo Marasco - are the stars of the team, but they have a very experienced offensive midfield that will absolutely burn anyone who thinks they can win the game by keeping the attackmen off the board. Our defenders, particularly the short-stick defenders, will need to stay very disciplined, and Adam Ghitelman will have to stand on his head once or twice in net.

- Get swamped early. Big, hostile crowd - and Cuse has been outscoring the opposition 13-3 in the first quarter. That's not just some small sample size fallacy - last year they outscored their opponents 54-16 in the first quarter, as opposed to 133-95 in the other three. In other words, by 38 in the 1st and by 38 in the last three. After the first 15 minutes is when the opposition has gotten their chance to crawl back into the game. Survive the first 15 minutes and things should be OK, but UVA can't let itself get blown out in the first quarter.


Close, duh. Like I said - it is every time. I won't condescend to predict anything beyond that. Anyone who does is either crazy or ordered to by their editor. I am the editor, so nobody's making me say anything that I'll get blamed for later. I think our team has some serious questions left to be answered if we're going to be in contention for the national title - namely, FACEOFFS, but I think the defense needs to get settled as well. This game should help answer them, hopefully with answers we like.

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