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Stegmaier: SU at UVA

The game of the week this week will be when Syracuse faces Virginia on Sunday 4:30pm

The UVA/Syracuse game is always an epic battle. While the players change every few years, the calibur of play remains the same. Coming into this game, Virginia is ranked #1, and Syracuse #3. Both teams are undefeated.

Virginia is 4-0. Virginia started the year with a tough one goal victory over Drexel, who for the most part, seem to play UVA very tight year in and year out. Virginia then cruised to wins over VMI, a struggling Stony Brook, and Mt. St. Mary’s.

Virginia’s offense is averaging over 14 goals per game, however the bigger surprise has been goalie Rob Furtunato. He has been lights out to start the season posting a measly 5.9 Goals Against Average while maintaining a save percentage of 65%. Those are some real good numbers, though he has not faced an offense as strong as Syracuse yet.

Syracuse is 2-0 with an easy win over Albany and a one goal win over Army. Like Drexel and UVA, Army always plays a tough game (figuratively AND literally) against the Cuse.

Syracuse will have many question marks coming into this game. The biggest one will be on defense and their goalies.

So Far Matt Lerman has started the fist two games of the season. He has split time right down the middle with Dom Lamolinara. The numbers for the two goalies are very close. Matt has a 7 GAA and is stopping 59% of the shots he’s faced. Dom averages 9GAA, and saves 63%. After watching the game against Albany I was convinced Matt was the better of the two, but after Dom’s performance against Army. like coach Desko, I am still undecided. Using a two goalie system is rare. It has worked in the past for other teams, but it is an unusual plan. On one hand it could keep both goalies fresh, it could throw off opponents from finding a goalie’s weak spot. On the other hand, it doesn’t allow your goalie to build up confidence or a rhythm in a game. Who knows what coah Desko will do Sunday against UVA? I would think for this game, coach D would want to pick one.

Sticking with that side of the field, Syracuse’s defense will have their collective hands full with Steele Stanwick and the rest of the UVA offense. Stanwick already has 6G and 10A this year. I talked about it in my preview…even if a team can stop Steele, he has the ability to run the offense like a maestro conducts an orchestra. Seven other players on UVA roster are averaging at least a goal per game. The point is. even if Syracuse shuts Stanwick down (SSDM maybe), Virginia has other options. Interesting useless fact: UVA is assisting on over 73% of its goals. That is an exceptionally high number, and while it isn’t all Stanwick, his style is rubbing off on the rest of the team.

The other big question for Syracuse will be how long it takes their attack to click. The Orange have a very good attack unit, but struggled in the beginning against Army last week netting only 2 of Syracuse’s 4 goals by halftime. Syracuse’s talented attack also has missed man-up opportunities (converting just 33% on the year). Syracuse does not have the opportunity to start slow against UVA’s hot goalie.

There are just too many questions with Syracuse this early in the season. They have looked sloppy at times great at other times. I am going with UVA by 3. If the game was later in the season or if/when they meet in the post-season, with some time to gel and get settled…I think the cuse could pull out a win.

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