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Big East Championship Preview

Thanks to Syracuse beating Villanova, and St Johns beating Notre Dame, the two best teams in the Big East aren’t in the championship. And now at-large bids just became MUCH more precious.

For all intensive purposes Notre Dame and Villanova should be in the tourney. So now, where one of these teams should have gotten the AQ and the other an at large bid…we will be looking at the Big East taking up 2 at large bids, stealing a bid away from another deserving team.

Can you feel all of the rage against the Orange hate starting already? They haven’t even won the Big East AQ yet, so let’s pocket that angst until Sunday. The way things have gone all season, it is possible to see St. John’s beat the Cuse and win the AQ. More on AQs and seedings on Monday after NCAA selection Sunday…for right now, let’s look at Cuse vs St. John’s.

These two teams met during the regular season. The Syracuse Orange escaped with 9-8 win with a goal that Tim Desko scored in the final 1:25.
St. John’s dominated Face offs winning 13 of 21 (62%), St. John’s out hustled Syracuse nabbing 29GBs to Syracuse’s 22. St. Johns keeper Jeff Lowman stopped 15 of 24 shots (62.5%), and Terence Leach and Kevin Cernuto were the offensive threats for St. Johns tallying 3 goals each.
For Syracuse on offense, Kevin Drew, Bobby Eilers, Tim Desko, and Derek Maltz all scored 2 goals each. The goalie situation at the time was still the even split experiment that didn’t end well. Lerman saved 6 of 10 shots (60%) in the first 30 minutes, and Lamolinara saved 2 of 6 shots (33%) in the second half.

Entering the season, Syracuse knew they were going to struggle, but not as much as they actually have this season. Syracuse Lacrosse believes in HHH (Head Heart Hustle). Up until Thursday against Villanova, they showed no Head (poor shot selection), no Heart (playing a full 60min), and no Hustle (Same GBs as opponents).

Face-Offs: All year Syracuse has only won 47% of its faceoffs. Ricky Buhr in particular was struggling at only 44%. Against Villanova he won 55%.

Groundballs: Syracuse usually excels in this with their speed and grit, but this year they scooped up 447 to opponents 435. Lower than usual, and combined with the lack of FO wins, added to the pressure on offense to score. Against Villanova, Syracuse looked beyond good, they looked Dyson good. The orange grabbed 41 to Villanova’s 22.

Offense: With added possessions, and confidence, the offense looked like they were taking better shots. Syracuse scored on 65% of their shots on goal (Villanova goalie only saved 35%).
For the year, Tommy Palasek is the points leader for Syracuse with 21 Goals/ 28 Assits, followed by Derek Maltz 28G/10A, Tim Desko 21G/12A, JoJo Marasco 12G/19A, and Bobby Eilers 23G/6A.

Goal: Wardwell looks better with each game as his confidence builds. Against Villanova he had 6 Goals against and 12 saves (67% Save Percentage). For the year he has 66GA/78Saves/8.7GAA/54.2% Save Percentage.

To the Orange faithful, watching the Villanova game was like eating Kobe Burgers, when you’ve been eating White Castle the rest of the season. Saturday’s game against a surprising St. John’s should prove whether the ‘Nova win was a fluke, or the Orange have found their groove.

St. John’s upset win over Notre Dame came down to time of possession, and goalie play. Jeff Lowman stepped up his game in goal posting 13 Saves and 7 Goals Against (65%) compared to his season average of 55%. When I say time of possession I am not talking about Face offs, since they only won 4 of 18 (22%), but off GBs, and Notre Dame turnovers. On offense Kiernan McArdle led the way with 3 goals and 4 assists, with 5 other players each netting 1 goal each. For the season McArdle has 29G/34A, Kevin Cernuto 23G/11A, Terrence Leach 22G/6A, and Harry Hunter 20G/8A.

This AQ is the only shot either team has of making the NCAA tournament, and both will come out strong. Syracuse has come a long way since they played St. Johns last, they settled their goalie situation, and seem to be shooting better, but can they sustain a full 60 minutes? St. Johns goalie stands on his head when playing in the big games against Syracuse and ND (save percentage of 64%), but will his offense be able to control the ball enough to give him a chance?

If I have to give an opinion, I would go with Syracuse based ONLY on their performance against Villanova. If they did not look as dominant and re-energized as they did, I would be telling you St. Johns in a crazy upset.

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