Published on February 16, 2019 at 6:18 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Graham Comments John Desko strolled past the throng of reporters to the podium, sat down, took off his glasses, and sighed.“Well,” he said, “I thought we did a much better job today than we did a week ago.”After his team’s first win of the season, Desko immediately alluded to the improvements his team made in the week since an embarrassing opening loss to Colgate. Losing a season-opener for the first time in more than five years made Saturday’s game against Albany even more important. On Saturday, Syracuse played to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1974 and avenge one of its worst home losses in program history, when the Great Danes walloped SU 15-3 a season ago.With the motivation of two gutting losses — albeit a year apart — crammed into one week of preparation, No. 20 Syracuse (1-1) buried No. 15 Albany (0-1), 13-5, on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. The Orange recovered from last weekend’s loss by scooping more ground balls, something it failed to do against the Raiders and locking off Albany’s star attack, Tehoka Nanticoke, who burned SU for five goals last year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Give credit to Syracuse,” Albany coach Scott Marr said. “I knew they were going to be hungry, obviously after last year’s game and then losing last weekend.”The mistakes in the Colgate game film were glaring, Desko said on Saturday. Players panicked and didn’t see open passes on clears. Shots went directly into the goalies’ stick. Ball movement was poor. Particularly jarring was the manner the Raiders plain out-hustled the Orange on several loose balls — the Raiders finished with six more ground balls than SU.On Saturday, the Orange dominated the Great Danes on ground balls. On faceoffs, wingers flooded to the X, where a Syracuse midfielder frequently scooped a loose ball. Close defenders swept up the crease. When Nate Siekierski knocked down a David Lipka shot late in the first quarter, Lipka crashed and scooped up his own rebound.It was one of the first stats Desko lauded postgame, noting the 44-24 disparity. When he said it was a point of emphasis in practice over the past week, Bradley Voigt and Tyson Bomberry, sitting to his left, chuckled.“Every day we were hitting at least one ground ball drill,” Bomberry said.In his collegiate debut in the Carrier Dome last year, Nanticoke starred for Albany, scoring a game-high five goals. He used his large frame and quick feet to get to the cage, overpowering Bomberry. He got no help then, as SU needed to cover attack Connor Fields, who finished 2018 with 86 points.But with Fields and other key pieces gone, it was as Marr pointed out, Nanticoke and “two freshmen” on the field.As the clear dominant force in the offense, SU’s gameplan centered around stopping the sophomore. Bomberry, due to his size, drew the main assignment again. Last season, Bomberry gave him too much space. But, he said, he learned to get into Nanticoke farther from the crease and make him work harder to get closer. Frequent double teams helped, too. When Nanticoke tried to isolate on Bomberry, backside help came, locking Nanticoke into place and forcing the occasional turnover, much to the delight of the fans, who roared every time the second defender came to tied up Nanticoke’s hands.“I thought it was good too that we went to him under control,” Desko said. “When you go and fly at him and try to take the ball out of his stick, he’s going to beat the double team and get to the goal.”Putting hits on Nanticoke helped, too. Whenever he came near the crease or drew a double and went to the ground, bodies piled up around him and sticks came for his hands and arms. SU spent the entire game battering him into submission.Early in the third quarter, Nanticoke started running a break, chugging into SU’s defensive box. As he reached the “ACC” logo on the Carrier Dome field, Bomberry stepped in and leveled the 6-foot-1, 248 pound attack, in an instant knocking him off his feet and parallel to the ground, mid-air. Voigt got assessed a penalty for the hit. “I definitely didn’t get the penalty there,” Voigt said. “I couldn’t knock him over. Tyson’s probably the only guy on the team that could do that.”SU needed to dominate on Saturday after getting outplayed by the Raiders to avoid its first 0-2 start in 45 years. It did. It needed to lock down Nanticoke after letting him control them a year ago. It did. Syracuse needed to show that the embarrassing losses to Colgate and Albany were the exceptions, not the rule. It did. Facebook Twitter Google+
Gurtnahoes Shane Long would rather avoid having to go through the Euro 2016 play-offs.They’re guaranteed at least that – but will qualify directly for next year’s tournament in France if they win away to Poland tonight.Long scored the winning goal against Germany on Thursday to get them to this point and the Tipp native wants his side to finish the job. Kick off in Warsaw is at 7.45. Elsewhere in Group D, Germany need to beat Georgia to secure top spot. While Scotland end their disappointing campaign with a game against Gibraltar in Faro. Northern Ireland travel to Finland this evening, having already secured qualification to the finals. It’s between Romania and Hungary as to who joins Michael O’Neill’s side from Group F – they’re away to the Faroe Islands and Greece respectively. Albania could make a first ever major tournament this evening – a win away to Armenia will see them secure second spot in Group I behind Portugal.