Syracuse men’s lacrosse reacts to upcoming NCAA tournament matchup with Albany

first_imgFor a fourth straight season, the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament will swing through the Carrier Dome. The selection committee announced Syracuse (11-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) garnered the eighth seed of the tournament, meaning it’ll play host to Albany (12-3, 6-0 America East) on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.The in-state rivals will square off for the second time this season, as SU beat the Great Danes, 16-7, on Feb. 21 in Albany’s first game of the season.Syracuse players and head coach John Desko spoke to the media on Monday afternoon, and Desko said he was “a little surprised” with the final bracket. His squad will barely sneak in a home game as the last seeded team.New imageA shocking overtime loss to Hartford in the America East conference tournament is likely what prevented Albany from earning a top-eight seed. After losing to Syracuse, the Great Danes ripped off wins in 12 of 13 games — including one against then-No. 4 Yale — and finished the season ranked No. 8.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe consensus from Desko and his players is that they’re facing a much-improved team from the one they stomped on two-plus months ago. That was Albany’s first game of the season, and the Orange lit up its defense as five players scored multiple goals, and Ben Williams won 17-of-24 faceoffs.“(Albany’s) spacing is going to be better,” Desko said. “They’re going to play better team defense. They won’t have as many turnovers as they did at the offensive end of the field.”Senior attack Dylan Donahue acknowledged that every team changes throughout the season, and as much as the Great Danes can attest to that, so can Syracuse. His team bounced back from a four-loss stretch in five weeks to win the ACC tournament and fortified its defense with a mid-season goalie change.Fired upTo counter a multi-layered SU offense, Albany head coach Scott Marr has a reliable trump card to play in goalkeeper Blaze Riorden. The senior goalkeeper’s 12.7 saves per game are third-most in the country and his 17 saves against the Orange this year tied for the most of any goalie against the Syracuse.“He’s good at everything,” Nick Mariano said. “He’s a great goalie. He’s good outside of the cage where some goalies aren’t. His clearing is probably one of the best in the country.”Desko cited Riorden’s offensive play in box lacrosse as an advantage for the visitors, as Riorden has a better idea of where shooters like to attack the cage. Riorden most recently made 13 saves in the Great Dane’s conference tournament loss on Thursday. Syracuse saved more than 13 shots in a game just once this season.Last go-aroundThis tournament run will be the last for Donahue, a player who will go down as one of SU’s best offensive players ever. Last season, he was Syracuse’s first 50-goal scorer in 24 years and this year, he’s seamlessly handed the scoring reins to Mariano while he quarterbacks nearly every possession.Both Donahue and Mariano talked about playing consistent with how the Orange has in the past few weeks. That means the onus is on Donahue to allow one of the deepest offenses he’s played on to flourish. And with six players surpassing 15 goals this season, it’s exactly what he’s done so far.Last season ended in surprising fashion with an upset loss to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. The sting hasn’t completely worn off, but Donahue is revving up for a last shot at an elusive championship ring.“That kind of stuff is always in the back of your mind,” Donahue said of the last season’s loss to JHU. “You never want to get knocked out of the tournament. I think we have a good squad and everybody’s ready to go.“… We have one goal in mind.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img

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