Syracuse easily handles Navy in season-finale, 18-9

first_imgANNAPOLIS, Md. — Bradley Voigt pointed one finger toward the scoreboard and awaited a reaction. The score had already been decided — a while ago. By halftime, the outcome, a 18-9 Syracuse win, seemed to be a formality.In the week leading up to the game, SU head coach John Desko was peppered with joking (but somewhat curious) questions as to whether or not he’d watch the scores of the other Atlantic Coast Conference teams. Games that actually affect the Orange’s conference tournament fate after their regular-season ACC finale last Saturday. Of course he would, he said, but it’s not like he could change those outcomes. A fourth quarter goal from Voigt wouldn’t change scenarios outside of Annapolis, it just secured the only reality the Orange knew they could control. “(It’s) good,” Desko said. “At halftime, to have that kind of lead against these guys.”Syracuse (9-3, 2-2 ACC) dominated Navy (5-7, 3-4 Patriot) in nearly every facet Saturday. After keeping the score close in the first quarter, SU’s offense exploded in the second frame and continued its onslaught until the end of the contest.“They might be the best team we’ve played on our schedule this year … they’re a good team,” Navy head coach Rick Sowell said through laughter. “And you make a mistake, they’ll make you pay. And that’s exactly what they did today.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA win for Syracuse is accompanied by nothing more than a restrained, yet peaceful sigh. SU has been in strong position to enter the NCAA tournament field since it recovered from a road loss to Notre Dame. The Orange, who were revealed as the No. 6 seed by the NCAA tournament selection committee earlier Saturday, are pegged to host a game in the first round. Though a win secures no additional stress for Syracuse, the Orange’s most immediate implications lay over 635 miles away, as a North Carolina loss to Notre Dame pushed SU to a No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament, which opens this Thursday.For much of the past three weeks, Desko has preached the importance of playing behind the cage and controlling the pace of play on the field. On Syracuse’s first goal of the game, Nate Solomon lagged for a moment behind the goal, and Navy rotated back to defend a pass out to the other side. But when the Midshipmen defenders left Solomon, he darted in and scored with no contest.Navy kept the score close through the first quarter and battled with the Orange in the midfield on faceoffs and ground balls. The Midshipmen scored their first few goals with a combination of inside passes that slid the SU defense off its assignment. But whenever Syracuse pushed the ball into its own offensive zone, its methodical offense — three hops from Stephen Rehfuss before a shot dodging from behind the goal, a fake pass and an alley-oop feed from Solomon to Voigt — gave it an edge as the defense held its opponent to single-digit goals for the fourth-straight game.“The communication has been there, the one-on-one has been there and the slides have been pretty crisp,” goalkeeper Drake Porter said. “As a goalie, I definitely have no complaints.”SU scored most of its points from in near the crease, where the Orange’s dodgers worked easily coming from the corners of the cage and Syracuse used as many as seven passes on the interior to free up its attack. SU frequented the shot-fake, and the Midshipmen were often turned around.In the third quarter, David Lipka dodged to the left side of the cage and fired a shot behind the netting of the goal. Navy goalkeeper Ryan Kern crept behind the net to retrieve the ricocheted ball but, in what appeared to be a moment of lag and confusion, Lipka gathered the ball, found Voigt and pushed SU’s lead to eight.“Phew,” Sowell said, again, through laughter. “It’s … um … definitely tough to take.”As the game wound down, Syracuse entered its rotational players, inserted its backup goalie and gave up two of the matchup’s last three goals. It didn’t matter. SU won handily and positioned itself for its next move. Since the loss to Notre Dame, much of the last four games had been dedicated to a recovery from slow starts that plagued it in that game. In a four-game win streak to close the regular season, Syracuse has fixed that: it’s implemented a patient offense, flexed the strength of its hyped defense and reestablished a consistent identity at the X.In the end, the events of five weeks ago left the biggest mark on SU’s Saturday. But that’s not the part that it could control.“We’ve been trying to put together 60 minutes,” Desko said. “I think we’re getting a lot closer to that.” Published on April 20, 2019 at 7:16 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcCleary Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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