Duke comes into this game on a 13 game streak scoring more than 10 goals per game.
Their offense is clicking, and their face off unit is winning everything.
Syracuse comes into this game with the number one seed yet with a team everyone overlooked in the preseason. Syracuse is a team that may not win pretty, but a win in the W column is all that is needed.
Duke crumbled in the fourth quarter against a Cornell team led by Rob Pannell, although Duke had built up a large enough lead in the 3 quarters previous 14-7 only to end the game clinging to a 16-14 win. Duke even won more Face Offs and more Ground Balls in the fourth and still almost gave up the game.
Duke surprisingly gave up the ball with 18 turnovers in the game against Cornell versus only 8 for Cornell.
The big factor of this game was not anyone or anything for Duke, but AJ Fiore’s poor performance letting in 16 goals with 10 saves.
Duke’s saving grace was their special teams. An Extra Man Offense that only scored 2 of 10 opportunities went 3 of 6 against a Cornell team that prided itself and talked about the importance of special teams.
Syracuse is 16-3. Their last two wins have seen Syracuse has been losing 12-8 through three quarters, only to kick it up and outscore opponents 8-2 in the fourth quarter. Yes they make mistakes. Yes they play sloppy at times. But they get the wins and that is all that matters.
On offense they have a good motion offense. It is a departure from the run and gun offenses that we have seen from Syracuse in the past. Not to say they can’t score quick, but they are more deliberate with their shooting. They move the ball well almost too well, and at times try to force it inside when an outside shot is more than warranted.
This championship game, JoJo Marasco has the opportunity to steal away the Tewaaraton trophy from Rob Pannell with a superb performance on Monday as the committee seems to favor a player that carries a team on its back through Memorial day. JoJo has been the face of the offense as he converted from attack to midfield and has 22Goals and 41 Assists.
Lamolinara posted a 50% save percentage and seemed to stay home a lot more. If he is to beat duke, he needs to get active like he did against Yale, and making plays.
On defense, the Syracuse Orange has been solid holding opponents to under 10 goals the past 7 straight games. The question will be again on Ianzito as he suffered an ankle injury against Yale, yet played against Denver. We followed him, and he seemed to play a little softer, a little lighter in the fourth quarter. If he can play the full game at 100%, he could make the difference in slowing down a Duke offense that is rolling.
Face Offs favor Duke obviously, but what can they do. Syracuse needs to mess him up if they want a chance at this game. John Danowski explained that Fowler, “came off a broken clavicle last year against Syracuse where he broke his clavicle clean through”. I am not saying Syracuse needs to play dirty, but remember where your opponent has its weakness, as well as the fact YOU caused that weakness. Stick a pole on FO and try to “fight” for it. Syracuse face offs, while still struggling won 9 of 21 against Denver. While it may seem inconsequential, they won only 6 of 40. So this is an improvement.
While I think Duke is more talented by far, I see this as a game of wills. And Syracuse has that will, that fight, that never say die attitude that will propel them to Champions in 2013.