The first assignment for Sean Young, a transfer from Towson in his first game with Syracuse, wasn't easy.
He needed to shut down the leading scorer for one of the nation's top offenses and the winningest program in the history of lacrosse.
But that's exactly what he did in the No. 10 Orange's 13-8 win over No. 9 Johns Hopkins, limiting the Blue Jays' Brandon Benn to one goal and seemingly providing a long-term answer to who would replace the injured Brandon Mullins in the Syracuse (4-1) lineup.
"I haven't been guarded like that in a long time," said Benn, who had been averaging 3.6 goals per game for the Blue Jays (5-2).
Young shadowed Benn all over the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Benn managed just three shots, two with Young in the game.
"Given his first [game] in an Orange jersey, it's a lot to ask," Syracuse coach John Desko said.
The win was the Orange's most lopsided win over the Blue Jays since a 15-9 win in 2004, and after going 1-5 against top 10 teams last year, Syracuse is now 2-0.
Using an offense based around Benn's ability to slash to the goal, the Blue Jays were averaging 14 goals per game.
Against Syracuse, Benn's only goal came off a rebound with 13:15 left in the fourth quarter and with the Orange leading comfortably. It came when a missed shot bounced off the crossbar and Young was forced to slide over to help.
Before halftime, Young made a nice play, sliding off Benn to deflect the ball from an open Johns Hopkins player in the crease.
Outside of that, the sophomore followed Benn wherever he went, rarely leaving more than a stick-length gap between the two, once irritating the Hopkins junior so much that he turned and shoved Young in the upper arm.
Young responded by sidling up to the Blue Jays' leading scoring threat once again.
"When I went inside, he pretty much shut me off," Benn said. "Any time I went somewhere, he was right on my gloves the whole time. To be honest it threw me off a little bit."
Mullins, a second-year starter and likely Syracuse's most versatile defender, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Virginia, and the Orange hadn't settled on his replacement. At least until Saturday.
"Yeah, I hope so," Desko answered when asked if the performance had secured Young a bigger chunk of playing time. "With Mullins out, we're still trying to figure that out. Things are starting to fall into place."
Benn said the two players had battled before in Canada, where both grew up in Ontario, though he'd never been defended as tightly as this. Young said the familiarity was an edge.
"I just had to follow him wherever he was," Young said. "Every time he had his stick up, I'd check his stick to make sure he was covered at all times. He's such a good player inside. I'm used to playing people like him, used to the quick feet and cutting to the ball."
Doing it against Johns Hopkins, the only program in the country with more Division I wins (929) than Syracuse's 834, was just an added bonus. Syracuse was led by three goals from Scott Loy and three assists from JoJo Marasco.
The effort helped Syracuse to a relatively comfortable win despite getting outscored 3-0 on extra-man opportunities and being beaten 14-10 on faceoffs.
Syracuse took a 6-1 lead in the first quarter as Johns Hopkins struggled to adjust without its top offensive option, and the Blue Jays got within one goal only once the rest of the way.
"They're well-coached, obviously. They made a distinct point to mark Brandon tight on the inside," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "That was very obvious."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun