After back-to-back five-goal outputs in one-goal wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova, Syracuse needed to remind the lacrosse community that, well, they're Syracuse.
The top-ranked Orange got that message across on Sunday night, scoring nine goals in the first half en route to a 13-11 victory over No. 4 Duke at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Syracuse (8-0) scored the game's first four goals and eight of the first nine to put the Blue Devils in a deep hole. Although Duke responded and nearly caught up at the end of the game, the explosion on offense was a welcomed sight for the Orange players.
"I think we were patient offensively," said senior attackman Stephen Keogh, who paced the team with three goals and one assist. "I think we worked for the better shot instead of taking the no-angle [shots] or the shots from 15 yards out. I think we played less selfish tonight, and it actually started this week in practice. Practice this week was probably the hardest I've seen this team work, and they were very focused right from Monday."
Syracuse sophomore A JoJo Marasco said the team never had any doubts about its ability to score.
"We had a lot of faith in ourselves," said Marasco, who chipped in two goals and two assists. "Those two weeks were pretty frustrating against teams that gave us their best games. But we worked real hard, like Steve said, in practice. Coach [John] Desko always gives us the opportunity to have a great offense, and it showed out there today. Just to break out is a great feeling, and we had a lot of help from the defense giving us the ball again."
*Nine different players scored those nine goals in the first half – a testament to the multitude of weapons the Orange boast. Desko said being multi-dimensional is key. "We like to be like that," he said. "It makes you harder to cover. If you play with the philosophy that one guy's going to get it done for you and you run into that one game where somebody stops him, then everything stops. So it's great that we share the ball like we do and everybody takes turns getting it done for us."
*Syracuse senior goalie John Galloway collected his 52nd career win, setting a new NCAA Division I record for goalkeepers. Galloway, however, chastised himself for surrendering some late goals and allowing the Blue Devils to gain a flicker of hope. And the record didn't sound very important to him. "Right now, it's win No. 8 for us. Right now, it's all about this season," Galloway said. "Maybe in years to come, we'll be able to kick back and look at that record as a team and cherish the moments we had here. But right now, we're focused on the next win, and that's Princeton. That's going to be the biggest game for us just like this game was this weekend."
*It wasn't all rosy for the Orange, who lost senior defenseman John Lade to an ankle injury during the game. Desko did not have an update on Lade's status after the game. "I don't know," Desko said of the team's top defenseman. "I haven't talked to the trainer. I talked to him when he first got hurt. I think he should be fine, but we'll see. I think he just twisted his ankle."
*Faceoffs are also becoming an issue. With Sunday night's 7-of-27 performance, Syracuse has won just 16-of-54 draws in its last three games. The Orange used five different players on faceoffs with freshman Chris Daddio going 5-of-10. Senior Jeremy Thompson, the team's primary faceoff specialist, was 0-of-8. "I always think it's kind of a matchup issue, but we're disappointed there," Desko said. "I think a few that we did get out, we lost in ground ball situations. We've got to get better at that."
*Duke (8-3) may have had its seven-game winning streak come to an end, but coach John Danowski said he was buoyed by the team's comeback attempt in the second half during which the Blue Devils outscored Syracuse, 9-4. "We can take a lot of positives," he said. "One of the themes at halftime was, if you can admit that you're really scared and that you're scared of making a mistake, then we're going to be OK. But if you won't admit that, then we're not going to push forward, and we're not going to move on. I think that a lot of the guys, we didn't communicate well. We didn't do things that we had practiced during the week or things that we had done before. Partly Syracuse's effort and partly, I think it was a bit of stage fright. The first part, we can do nothing about – Syracuse – but the second part, hopefully, we can be a better team as a result of this."