No. 17 Syracuse Wins Physical Battle with No. 13 Army
By Karl Moeglein
CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
It took four shots on goal for Army to score on its first possession. A whole 2:44 into the game, and the Black Knights took the lead without letting the Orange touch the ball. Despite a long possession that could have been back breaking, Syracuse goalie Drake Porter’s poise established what was in store for the game to come.
“I worry a lot about the next shot, and just trying to save that one,” Porter said. “I don’t really keep track of stats or try to get confident during the game. I just try to stay the same the whole time.”
The junior’s confident demeanor in just his third career start paired with the Orange’s dominance on face-offs propelled No. 17 Syracuse (2-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) past No. 13 Army (3-1, 0-0 Patriot League) 10-8. SU has now won two straight games against top-15 opponents after the Colgate upset in the season opener.
“I think that the game went about as I thought it might go,” said Head Coach John Desko. “I think that Coach Alberici has done a very nice job with his team as far as the style that they play to get as many goals as they can. I thought we answered, especially with Phaup on the face-off. I think that he did an outstanding job. They threw the kitchen sink at him today.”
Sophomore Jakop Phaup won 15 of 18 face-offs while usual starter Danny Varello, who went 2 of 3, looked on.
“[Phaup] did a tremendous job of getting the ball out to space then picking it up himself and running with it and getting it to the open man,” Desko said. “As a result, he gave us a lot of possessions that we might not have had in different situations.”
To further the gap in the possession, Syracuse dominated in both ground balls, 41-26, and in caused turnovers, 12-4.
“We were playing uphill the whole game,” Army head coach Joe Alberici said. “When they’re winning the face-offs, you’re playing uphill the whole way.”
The one thing keeping the Black Knights in the game against Syracuse was the play of goalie AJ Barretto. The four-year starter made a career-high 18 saves.
“I thought AJ was fabulous. He had just a tremendous amount of saves,” Alberici explained.
Despite standing at 5’6”, Barretto continually held up his entire team. The Black Knights were down by as many as four goals, but they also held Syracuse scoreless for over 10 minutes straight between the 3rd and 4th quarters. Barretto’s masterful play on one end, motivated Porter on the other.
“You see a guy making a lot of saves, making really nice one-on-one saves, you sort of want to do the same thing on the other end,” Porter said. “AJ, like coach said, is a great goalie. I knew he was going to play well today.”
Porter not only had the best night of his young career, but one of the best performances in recent program history. The Canadian’s 16 saves were the most since Evan Molloy stopped 17 shots against Hobart in 2017.
Porter’s continued success could lead to good things for the Orange. Syracuse has won 54 straight games when holding its opponents under 10 goals.
Next up, Syracuse will open up conference play against No. 12 Virginia on Saturday. This is a very similar Cavaliers team that beat the Orange in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The opening face-off is set for noon.