Orange dominate Siena in NCAA first round

Syracuse jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and then pulled away in the second half to defeat a pesky Siena squad 10-4 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Syracuse moved into the NCAA quarterfinals Sunday with a 10-4 win over Siena, avenging the shocking upset to Army a year ago.

Johns Hopkins transfer Tommy Palasek played a big role in getting the Orange out of the first round this season, having his hand in each of Syracuse’s first four goals.

Photo: Ashli Truchon
Josh Amidon winds up to score during the second quarter of the game.

“I can’t really comment for how it felt for last year’s guys,” Palasek said. “I’m sure it felt awful, but I could tell throughout practice with the intensity this week how badly they wanted to get through this one and make up for last year.”

Syracuse cruised past the Saints, outplaying its opponent in just about all facets of the game. Palasek got the offense going early, assisting on the first goal of the game, a crank by Josh Amidon.

But the big story Sunday night was the play of John Lade, Brian MeGill and the rest of the Orange defense. Lade, arguably the nation’s top defender, held Saints attacker Bryan Neufeld without a point for the first time in his 52-game career.

“He’s an All-American for a reason,” Neufeld said. “He does a good job positioning, and he was always aware of where I was, I couldn’t really sneak around on him. He did a great job.”

Neufeld was quick and clear when asked about his scoring streak coming to an end, saying, “The streak doesn’t matter to me, we lost.”

With Neufeld stifled, Siena had no answer for Syracuse’s defense in the first quarter, committing eight turnovers in the frame, and noticeably struggled to match SU’s physicality.

The Orange grabbed an early 2-0 lead over the Saints, and never relinquished the lead at any point in the game. Palasek set the tempo for Syracuse, as the Orange held a 4-2 lead at halftime, despite Siena’s Tom Morr recording 12 of his 19 saves in the first two periods.

“We had fifty one shots, some good some bad, but when a goalie’s playing that great, you kind of just have to keep shooting,” Palasek said. “Maybe not shoot as high as often, because he was saving those and gaining confidence, but when the guys were shooting low, they were going in. We just had to keep shooting.”

While the offense was a bit slow in coming to form with the just four goals in the first half, the Orange defense looked to be in full stride from the opening faceoff. Syracuse snapped Neufeld’s scoring streak — the longest in the nation — and didn’t skip a beat with the rest of the attack unit.

Neufeld and fellow attackmen Danny Martinsen entered Sunday’s game as the second-highest scoring tandem in the country with 117 points. The two finished the game with a combined one point, coming on Martinsen’s fourth-quarter goal.

The Orange were focused on sticking to their game plan, despite facing three forty-plus point scorers.

“We just needed to stay in our package, and I think our guys did that well,” SU head coach John Desko said. “We needed to know who (those scorers) were, and make sure if we did slide, we tried to cover up on those guys in particular and let the other guys shoot from the outside. I think (our) guys knew what was going on.”

The Orange scooped up 34 ground balls to the Saints’ 15, won the faceoff battle, and committed eight fewer turnovers. However, despite jumping all over Siena, Syracuse only led by two at halftime and most of the third quarter.

Amidon broke the scoring drought by cranking one past Morr with just more than four minutes left in the third, and Steve Ianzito knocked one home with 9.9 seconds left, giving the Orange a four-goal lead, virtually sealing the win.

“I think the fifth goal was one we kind of let slip in, but I think the sixth goal, with about nine seconds left, that one hurt a little bit more because we were even strength,” Morr said. “I know there was a flag down, but we were still six-on-six there when someone got open on the crease. I think that one just hurt a lot more than the fifth one.”

The Orange scored four times in the fourth quarter, half of which came on extra man opportunities, an area where Syracuse has struggled in 2011.

But with the addition of new plays specifically designed to counter Siena’s defense, SU finished the game with two man-up goals on five opportunities.

The Orange will try and repeat its man-up success Sunday when they play Maryland. The Terrapins defeated No. 8 North Carolina earlier in the day, and will meet the Orange at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.