Men’s lacrosse roundtable: Inconsistent offense, thinning defense and the Tar Heels in town

first_imgNo. 7 Syracuse (6-4, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) fell 13-8 to No. 9 Cornell (8-3, 3-1 Ivy), breaking its three-game winning streak. The Orange, which has already locked in the No. 1 seed for the ACC tournament, looks to close out an undefeated regular season in conference when it hosts North Carolina (6-6, 0-2 ACC) on Saturday at 4 p.m.On Tuesday against Cornell, Syracuse’s offense was held to fewer than 10 goals. Was it just a blip on the radar?Charlie DiSturco: This is just an inconsistent Syracuse offense where youth will show up at times. Cornell’s goalie Caelahn Bullen had a handful of point-blank saves that made a huge difference in the opening half. The offense began to figure itself out as the game wound down in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. It’s interesting because SU finally seemed like it was in a groove and would walk out with a win against Cornell.But this offense is far too talented that scoring under 10 goals will be a trend. It was just a night where Syracuse couldn’t figure out much and it lost. I wouldn’t read too far into the offense’s woes because its numbers were relatively similar to the Big Red’s. SU just got the short end of the stick.Josh Schafer: It’s hard to call this a blip on the radar as it’s the third time in four losses Syracuse has been held under 10 goals. Syracuse’s offense just didn’t finish. SU junior attack Nate Solomon said as much post game, remarking that “the shots were there.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe main concern here for the Orange is the variety of ways its offense has struggled. Against Albany and Rutgers it couldn’t possess the ball. On Tuesday against Cornell it couldn’t score despite notching the same amount of shots on goal as the Big Red. Yes, Bullen was a brick wall, but that’s how lacrosse is sometimes. If SU wants to make a tournament run its offense can’t stall like that moving forward.Matt Liberman: We’ve seen an inconsistent Syracuse offense all season. SU scored just three goals against Albany but then poured 15 in against Duke. One of the problems that SU has dealt with in a few of its losses have been turnovers such as against Rutgers, when SU had 22.Other times the offensive issues have come from an inability to win the faceoff, as was the case against Albany and Johns Hopkins. Against Cornell, SU’s kryptonite was simply an outstanding performance in the cage from Bullen.Across all those games, though, the offense disappeared at times. If Syracuse wants to advance far this year, it can’t go silent offensively for minutes on end. This has happened even in their wins. I’m not smashing the panic button, but this has been more than just a blip on the radar.Does Marcus Cunningham’s injury bring down a defense that was exceeding expectations?C.D.: We don’t know the severity of the injury yet, but even if Cunningham is out for a long time, I don’t think it hurts the defense on a level that losing Nick Mellen would, or the effect Tyson Bomberry being out had. Cunningham is a physical third defender, but he isn’t normally guarding opponents’ best attacks.Syracuse’s defense is also very deep, which makes the cause for concern even smaller. Brett Kennedy stepped up in Bomberry’s absence and was not only solid, but a big reason for SU’s win against Virginia. Nick DiPietro has also battled with Cunningham since last year for the third spot and is a solid bench option. The defense will be just fine and if there’s any difference, it’s minimal at the most.J.S.: Losing Cunningham hurts from a chemistry perspective. The last four games, arguably Syracuse’s best defensive stretch of the season, began with the return of Tyson Bomberry. The junior defender had missed several games before that, two of which were losses. With Syracuse’s defense at full force, it held Notre Dame and Hobart to season lows and Cornell, the nation’s top offense, to two goals below its season average.DiPietro filled in for Cunningham in the final moments against Cornell and could potentially be a replacement. Brett Kennedy, who is second on SU in groundballs, could also be an option for the Orange. While both are strong players, they won’t have the rapport Cunningham had with his defensive partners.M.L.: Certainly anytime you lose a starter it hurts, especially when he is coming from a unit that has been inconsistent this season. I think it is a bigger deal than Charlie thinks and I agree with Josh that for this team, there is no argument that there is a lack of talent defensively. Heading into the season we all predicted SU would be a top-five defense because of who was on that line.Yes, Kennedy has filled in nicely and is capable of doing so again. But with how the defense had been playing recently, especially on the man-down units where communication and chemistry is key, this injury is bigger than people think. He isn’t Mellen or Bomberry, but Cunningham brings solid defense to every game with minimal mistakes. That will be missed.How does Syracuse go undefeated in the ACC and beat North Carolina on Saturday?C.D.: It’s easier said than done, but SU should play like it has all season long against conference opponents. Sophomore faceoff specialist Danny Varello will need to have success at the faceoff X and the offense will need to revert back to old form, unlike Tuesday’s loss to Cornell.The defense has been playing great — it held a Cornell team averaging more than 20 goals in its last four games to 13 — and will likely keep that up against an unusually weak UNC team.Syracuse’s offense is young, but will definitely be more amped to get another signature win and secure the regular season ACC title, and we’ve seen the potential the offense has. North Carolina is on a six-game slide and has struggled in most areas. Syracuse, on the other hand, just needs to hone in on slowing down its offense and making smarter decisions. The defense will be just fine and likely limit UNC like it has its previous opponents.J.S.: There’s an easy answer to this question: score more goals. I’m slightly kidding, but Syracuse needs its offense back. In every one of its ACC wins the Orange has played efficiently on offense. That includes its second-largest offensive output of the season: 15 goals against Duke.After scoring fewer than 10 goals for the third time this season against Cornell on Tuesday, Syracuse can’t afford that kind of offensive dud. And SU’s previous three conference games don’t point to one.M.L.: North Carolina may be the most banged up team in all of lacrosse. The Tar Heels will be without 13 players come Saturday — not a great start for trying to pull an upset. I talked with UNC head coach Joe Breschi and he said he thinks his team is capable of winning if it wins 50 percent of its faceoffs and makes 15 saves. But there hasn’t been a single game where UNC has made 15 saves, and the Tar Heels have one road win this season. As long as Syracuse takes care of its possessions, I see SU rolling. Comments Published on April 11, 2018 at 11:07 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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