‘Cuse Countdown Analysts Preview Syracuse’s Matchup with Cornell
After a brief reprieve from ranked teams, Syracuse takes on top 10 Cornell. The Orange’s undefeated road record is on the line in Ithaca, and the ‘Cuse Countdown analysts know exactly what SU needs to do to come home with a win.
Key to the Game: Dom Madonna
After allowing just ten goals over the last two games for the Orange, redshirt senior goalie Dom Madonna needs another stellar performance to stop one of the nation’s top offenses in Cornell. The netminder made 13 saves and allowed only six goals against Notre Dame, which earned him national Player of the Week honors. The Big Red offense averages over 15 goals per game and scores on nearly 42 percent of its shots, which is first in the nation in both categories. With an offense that can slice through any defense in the country, Cornell is stacked with scoring threats. Madonna has to be a brick wall as the last line of defense for Syracuse.
Prediction: Syracuse 14-13
Cornell has an extremely tough offense that can cause troubles for nearly any defense in the country and has scored over 20 goals in two of its last three games. With the Orange offense stepping up in the last few games, Syracuse should be able to keep up offensively with Cornell as the Big Red defense allows over nine goals per game. If guys like Stephen Rehfuss and Nate Solomon can carry over multiple goal performances from the Hobart game, the Orange should be alright.
Key to the Game: Contain Teat
It is no secret who Cornell’s best player is: Jeff Teat, who is third in the country in points per game. Teat is coming off a 12 point effort in the Big Red’s downing of Harvard. But Syracuse has seen a similar style of player earlier this season from Justin Guterding of Duke, who is second in the nation in points per game. However, SU held Guterding to just one goal and two assists when the two schools faced each other this season. Syracuse forced other Duke players to try and beat them. If the Orange applies this same strategy against Cornell, that could work wonders. The Big Red do not have as much talent surrounding Teat as Duke does for Guterding. If SU takes him away, the Orange wins this game comfortably.
Prediction: Syracuse 13-10
I do not expect Syracuse to totally eliminate Jeff Teat from the game, but I do expect the team to limit his opportunities. For that reason I think the game will be close for a few quarters before SU pulls away. The difference in this game will be the variety of goal scorers SU boasts compared to Cornell. That attacking variety is what separates the Orange and the Big Red.
Key to the Game: Limit Scoring Runs
Cornell’s offense has the ability to break out—just ask its opponent last week, Harvard, who gave up a 5-0 run between the second and fourth quarters in a 15-11 Big Red win. Jeff Teat, Clarke Petterson and Jordan Dowiak all rank in the top 40 in goals per game, and the trio paces an offense that has scored at least nine goals in every single game. ‘Cuse’s success starts at the defensive end, and if SU can limit runs as it did versus Notre Dame and Hobart, it has a chance to grab its third road victory.
Prediction: Cornell 14-9
The Big Red’s offense centers around pairs sets, which makes sliding for opposing defenses difficult. Syracuse struggled to defend this type of offense versus Johns Hopkins and Duke, and expect Cornell to find similar success. While Nick Mellen can lock up Jeff Teats, the rest of the Orange defense has not shown a consistent ability stop ball carriers and get through screens. After missing the tournament in each of its last two seasons, Cornell is back to national prominence and should pick up its fifth straight win.
Key to the Game: Impose Will on Defense
This top-ten Central New York matchup boils down to an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Something is going to have to give. Cornell sits atop nearly every offensive leaderboard with 15.3 goals per game (first), a .418 shooting percentage (first), and 10.5 assists per game (first). That being said, the Big Red has struggled to score against stout defenses like Albany, Penn State, and Yale. You cannot find a hotter defense/ goalie combination in the country than the Orange and Dom Madonna. ‘Cuse needs to outmuscle Big Red scoring threats. If they bring the hurt early on and continue to wear Cornell down, their scorers will run out of gas in the second half.
Prediction: Syracuse 13-9
The suffocating Syracuse defense will rise to the occasion yet again in this matchup, securing a big victory. While Dom Madonna has been a brick wall between the pipes as of late, Nick Mellen has been an absolute glove. Mellen is always tasked with defending the opponents’ top offensive threats, and he held Notre Dame’s top scorers Ryder Garnsey and Bryan Costabile to just one goal between them. Mellen, along with the rest of the defensive unit, will hold Cornell to under ten goals. Once the Big Red offensive machine is slowed down, ‘Cuse is sure to take control of this one.
Key to the Game: Stopping Jeff Teat
Nick Mellen is tasked with defending one of college lacrosse’s best each game. Tuesday night against Cornell is going to be no different. Teat, a Tewaaraton nominee for the Big Red, is currently 12th in the country in points. The SU defense has turned a corner lately and Mellen has been spearheading that movement. The redshirt sophomore shutdown Duke’s Justin Guterding a couple weeks ago and has forced two turnovers in each of the Orange’s last three games. Considering Teat accounts for roughly 25 percent of Cornell’s points, it’s hard to imagine the Big Red taking down the Orange if Mellen keeps Teat in check Tuesday night.
Prediction: Syracuse 10-9
It took a little while but this Syracuse team has found its true identity. SU is wearing teams down with smart defense and impressive goalkeeping from Dom Madonna. Even though Cornell enters averaging 15.3 goals a game this season, the Big Red hasn’t played a defense quite like Syracuse. Expect another strong game from Mellen and SU’s young, hot midfield to make enough plays on offense to help the Orange squeak out another ugly defensive battle Tuesday night.
Key to the Game: Don’t Get in a Shootout
Cornell is the top scoring offense in the country and the only team that scores more than 15 goals per game. However, the Big Red are 1-3 in games where it scores less than 15 goals. The Orange will not be able to keep up if the game becomes high scoring. Slowing the pace and not allowing Cornell to clear easily will help the ‘Cuse limit a power offense that takes advantage of its opportunities. The Big Red’s 42 percent shooting percentage is by far the highest in the country.
Prediction: Syracuse 13-11
The kids have finally grown up. A Syracuse team that seemed to collapse as often as it succeeded has matured. While Cornell will certainly test the Orange, the ‘Cuse have a major weapon on their side: the time and ability to prepare: While SU had a week to get ready for Cornell, the Big Red are coming off a Saturday win against Harvard. Players who were just getting used to the rhythm of the season are well in form late in season. Against Cornell, Syracuse will stay in rhythm and extend its winning streak to four games.
Key to the Game: Close the Gap on Defense
Even though Dom Madonna limited Notre Dame and Hobart to just ten total goals, don’t be hoodwinked into believing he’s one of the premier goalies in the nation. The senior requires much help in front of him, especially against a Cornell offense that possesses three players in Jeff Teat, Clarke Petterson, and Jordan Dowiak who have each tallied 24 or more goals so far in 2018. Teat constantly charges into the tough areas and freezes opposing goalies, impressive for a player who stands at just 5’10”. The Big Red is also first in the entire country in shot percentage. If the team finds an open look, expect Madonna to be fetching the ball from the back of his cage. SU’s defensive trio of Marcus Cunningham, Tyson Bomberry, and Nick Mellen must be prepared to thwart their bodies and sticks in front of shots on Tuesday.
Prediction: Syracuse 14-12
This in-state matchup should be close throughout, especially since Cornell consistently launches 30-40 shots per game. However, the Orange finally faces a team that sits below 50% at the faceoff X, so count on SU snatching a few extra possessions that could pay dividends in the fourth quarter. John Desko anticipated Hobart’s additional rest becoming a factor against the ‘Cuse last week. Now the Orange is the team with a full week of preparation. Conversely, Peter Milliman’s squad just battled Harvard on Saturday. Cornell has yet to defeat a ranked opponent, and I don’t see SU delineating from that trend.
Key to the Game: Win at the X Early and Often
Syracuse only wins 46 percent of its faceoff attempts. Danny Varello needs to step up against Cornell. His production has been up and down for most of this season. For example, Varello was pulled in the middle of the Duke game in favor of Nick Martin, a freshman midfielder, who is better at raking the ball out than Varello. The sophomore faceoff specialist relies mostly on his quickness and athleticism to win his faceoffs, but he’s only won the face off battle three times this year for the Orange. Against Cornell, it will be extremely important for the Orange to control possession in the first half. The Big Red’s last game was on Saturday. Meanwhile, SU has had a full week of rest. If Syracuse can wear down Cornell early on, its advantage in the fourth quarter will become all that more apparent.
Prediction: Syracuse 14-13
Cornell is much improved from last season, especially defensively where the Big Red ranks 26th in the NCAA in goals allowed per game . However, SU is clicking on all cylinders, especially on the back side with the communication between goalie Dom Madonna and his defenders. Madonna won National Player of the Week for stifling Hobart (four goals) and holding No. 6 Notre Dame to just six goals with 13 saves. Madonna is finally settling into his groove, and that means bad things for ‘Cuse’s opponents.