Three Thoughts: Syracuse vs. Villanova

Syracuse loses its first ever Big East game to Villanova 11-10.

Syracuse (4-3, 2-1) fell to Villanova (5-3, 1-0) at the Carrier Dome on Sunday night 11-10. It was a slugfest between the two teams. The game was very physical and went back and forth. The Orange led for the majority of the first half but came out of the locker room sluggish and Villanova capitalized.

The game was still tied after the third quarter but the Wildcats took a two-goal lead in the fourth that the Orange couldn't surmount. In the final minutes, Syracuse had a few chances to score but Villanova goalie Dan Gutierrez stood tall at the net and let nothing by. Dominic Lamolinara made a save with five seconds left and bombed the ball downfield in one last effort to tie the game, but it was too late. 

Here are three thoughts from the game:

1. The team showed signs of life.

The first half was one of the best halfs of lacrosse this team has played in a while. Syracuse was out shooting Villanova 24 to 19, picking up more ground balls, clearing the ball well and even winning faceoffs. The Orange haven't been winning faceoffs all year, even against a team like Providence. But in the first half of today's game, Syracuse won 9-of-14 at the X. The offense looked really good. They were changing planes on their shots and getting to the net a lot. Had this play continued, the Orange easily would have come away with a win. But when Syracuse trotted out onto the field for the second half, something changed. The team won just 2-for-11 faceoffs, 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Coach John Desko said after the game that he was dissapointed in the teams offensive performance in the second half. He said they've worked on a lot of things all week in practice and he didn't see what they worked on out on the field today.

2. Dominic Lamolinara is the guy.

It has finally been decided, for real this time. Lamolinara is the goalie and he is in the cage to stay. He came out strong today. He had five solid saves in the first half and three in the second half. Unlike last week, there weren't any goals this week that made me question Lamolinara's ability. Everything he let by would have been very tough to save. But what impressed me the most about Lamolinara was his ability to clear. Today, he was making deep passes like John Galloway made last year. He also has a good eye for the open man. On multiple occasions, Lamolinara would find someone up field that would set up a wide open transition chance. Kevin Drew scored both of his goals today on long clear passes from Lamolinara and having that weapon is huge for this team. 

3. The Orange need to take advantage of the extra man opportunities.

The Orange were 0-for-5 today while being a man up. On Wednesday, Syracuse had two different two-man advantages and couldn't capitalize on either. Coach Desko went to work and designed a play for the extra man opportunities. He said in the press conference that the team didn't run the play during the first two man-ups today, which resulted in no good shots. During the final three man-ups, the team did run the play and it resulted in some good shots at the goal but they were saved. The game would have been a different story had the team been more successful on the extra man advantages and Desko admitted that after the game.

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