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Saturday, Feb 16, 2019 at 9:27 pm

Strong Defense Leads Syracuse Over Albany

By Nicole Weaving

CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter

Historically, the annual matchup between Syracuse and Albany has always come with an extra edge of competitiveness. Before Saturday’s matchup, four of the last seven contests had been decided by two goals or less. This time around, the score may not have been as close, but the aggressiveness between these Upstate New York foes was still alive and well.

There was plenty of pushing and shoving, especially on the face-off. But, the most tell-tale moment came with two minutes left in the second quarter. Albany’s Tehoka Nanticoke dove into the crease and collided with SU goalie Drake Porter. Earlier, Nanticoke had done this, and the goal was waived off. This time, the referees signaled that goal was good.

As Porter laid on the ground, grabbing his stomach, both teams were in each other’s faces– a fight seemed like it was just moments away. Head Coach John Desko was furious on the sidelines that no penalties had been assessed against the Great Danes for hurting Porter.

The Orange was aggressive and motivated from the opening whistle and it paid off. Syracuse (1-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) redeemed itself from its season-opening loss, beating Albany (0-1, 0-0 America East) 13-5 on Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse played lockdown defense all game long, causing 12 turnovers in the contest. From strong one-on-ones and quick slides to hustling back in transition, the Orange wasn’t letting the Great Danes get any momentum offensively. For senior Tyson Bomberry, the difference between this game and last week’s loss was better communication.

“I just thought that our whole defense this last week, we were stressing on being on the same page and doing what we were, basically following our game plan,” Bomberry said. “I think that we really followed our game plan this week and not unlike last week, when we kind of got away from it.”

Part of the game plan included adjusting how the Orange defended Tehoka Nanticoke. Last season, the freshman phenom scored five goals in the 15-3 victory. This year, he scored just twice.

Bomberry was matched up against him again, but this time, the SU defense sent the early double-team. Nanticoke got trapped and ended up getting checked or dropping the ball. Desko was happy with how his defense handled the sophomore.

“I thought it was good too that we went to him under control. You know, you go and you fly at him and try to take the ball out of his stick, he’s going to beat the double team and get to the goal,” Desko said. “So I thought the guys were under control, put the ball on the ground and were able to recover some nice change of possessions there.”

The Orange also dominated the ground ball battle, grabbing 44 compared to the Great Danes 24. This was a huge jump from last week when Colgate held the advantage 31 to 25.

“We kicked ourselves. We’ve always been a pretty good ground ball team and Colgate just kind of woke us up,” Desko said. “We had to work on this more especially some of the faceoffs a week ago, they were 50-50s and Colgate in the first half was coming up with them. Just something that was worth focusing on.”

Offensively, Brad Voigt stepped up, scoring a career-high six goals in the game. He was constantly open about 10 yards out as the Great Danes defense was a step behind at times.

“We were just moving good off the ball. I think we were definitely more comfortable in the offense that we are running right now,” Voigt said. “I’m not much of a dodger so I’m a product of the guys dodging around me. So all credit to the offensive guys that got me open today.”

With the 13-5 victory, Syracuse grabbed its 240th win inside the Carrier Dome. Next week, the Orange has a matchup with Army West Point at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

nlweavin@syr.edu | @nicki_weaves