That top-ranked Syracuse recorded season lows in both goals (9) and shots (29) in a 9-8 overtime win against Georgetown in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore wasn't a case of the Orange being unlucky with their shots or not getting enough possessions.
Much of the credit goes to the Hoyas' new-look zone defense, which was installed after the team's 16-15 loss to Harvard on Tuesday.
Senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann said the team had just three days to work on the scheme, which appeared to flow smoothly between zone and man-to-man.
"Just tried to slow down the game a little bit," the Baltimore native and Gilman graduate said. "The coaches thought it would give us the best chance to win, so we worked on that all week, and it really worked out for us. It's something for us for the rest of the season."
Syracuse coach John Desko conceded that his team was caught off-guard by Georgetown's zone defense.
"I was surprised from the standpoint that we hadn't seen that before," he said. "But I think with what they've been going through and playing Syracuse in this kind of venue, you had to make some changes, and my hat's off to the coaching staff for getting them to play differently from what we've seen them play, to go into a zone, which we hadn't seen this year. Offensively, I think they played pretty basically, but they still outshot us and out-ground balled us. They were a very well-prepared team today."
*Orange senior attackman Stephen Keogh's four-goal outing against the Hoyas Saturday shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Keogh scored five goals in Syracuse's 15-12 victory over Georgetown last season. Keogh credited his success to his teammates' ability to create scoring opportunities. "I think their defense is really aggressive," he said of the Hoyas. "We've got great dodgers on our team that go hard to the cage, and they always draw the slide. So I just kind of play my game and try to get open in the middle, and all of the guys on our team have great vision. I thought I shot well today and found the back of the net."
*The last time the Orange was involved in a game that went beyond regulation, Syracuse lost in double overtime to Army in the first round of the NCAA tournament last May. The Orange avoided a similar result, but Keogh said the team would treat Saturday's game as a learning tool. "It's definitely going to help us," he said. "We're going to watch this film and learn from our mistakes, but we've been there before. We're seniors, and we just never gave up. We're just happy we came out with the win."
*Gerry Reilly's second goal of the season may have been his most important. It was the junior short-stick defensive midfielder who tied the score at eight with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. Georgetown coach Dave Urick said Reilly has solidified his presence on defense. "We didn't recruit him," Urick said. "He came here to play football, and he did it for a year. He's been a great addition to our team. He's a defensive middie, and they don't score a lot of goals, but he scored a big one today."
*The Hoyas pushed Syracuse to the limit, but the end result was still another mark in the loss column, their third of the season. That's why it was difficult for sophomore attackman Davey Emala to be extremely optimistic about the team's showing. "I wouldn't say it's a moral victory," he said. "I'd say that I'm proud of the work we did today. I think our team took some positive steps forward. At the same time, you want to make the final play and win that game. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way today, but we'll definitely keep at it."