Syracuse Grinds Out Another One Goal Victory Over Yale
By Nick Dugan
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — At halftime, there were reminders of Syracuse’s NCAA First Round matchup with Albany from 2016 all over the stat sheet.
The Orange was being out-shot 28 to 10. Yale was getting after the ground balls, picking up 22 to Syracuse’s 7. Most troubling of all, Yale’s Conor Mackie out-dueled the SU faceoff specialists, winning 9-of-10 draws.
But, true to form of the 2017 Syracuse squad, John Desko and company was able to persevere, as the Orange used a 4-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to take down the Bulldogs, 11-10, in SU’s eleventh one-goal game of the season.
“We knew they were a very good team coming in,” Desko said. “They’re a very well-coached team. They don’t get real complicated, but they do what they do extremely well.”
One of the Ivy League champs’ strengths: the faceoff X. Conor Mackie came into the contest winning 59% of his faceoffs. Against Ben Williams and Danny Varello, he won 18-of-22 draws taken on the night.
“They’re guy at the faceoff today I thought was tremendous,” Desko said. “He gave them so many possessions. We just couldn’t get the ball to our offensive end of the field, especially in the first half.”
This put a great amount of pressure on the defense and goalie Evan Molloy throughout the game. The redshirt senior faced a flurry of shots in the opening frame, but for him, those shots were a blessing, not a curse.
“The twenty shots in the first quarter weren’t really overwhelming,” Molloy admitted. “It was more of a good thing for me because, you know, Eric Scott is a great shooter. He took the first two shots of the game and I felt on him. And, you know that kind of built up my confidence even though he didn’t hit the cage and then I was just seeing it the rest of the way.”
Senior Nick Mariano realized that Molloy had found a groove and after the game he praised the back line, especially Molloy, for their performance against a potent Yale attack.
“All the credit goes to them,” he said. “You know, I shoot against [Molloy] everyday in practice. He gets in my head and I get in his head and it’s fun going against one of the best goalies in the country.”
Despite the outstanding display from the ‘Cuse defense, the Bulldogs offense had the Carrier Dome faithful on edge all night long. Tewaaraton finalist Ben Reeves had a game-high six points (4G, 2A) including two big tallies that eventually tied the game 10-10 late in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Ben was great. I think he was our best player and our leader and I thought he had a good day,” Yale Head Coach Andy Shay said. “I thought he was patient and he showed his speed today. I was proud of his effort.”
However, the difference ended up being a Stephen Rehfuss rocket from the left wing with just over two minutes to play.
“I think it was just a miscommunication on defense,” Rehfuss recalled. “They kind of just both went to [Jordan Evans], just like one step and Jordan found me and I did the easy job of just finishing it.”
The Orange will certainly be hard-pressed to rely on 15 saves from Evan Molloy or just one faceoff win from Ben Williams if it wants to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2013. Syracuse will have a week of practice before its Quarterfinal matchup with the Towson Tigers next Sunday at the University of Delaware. The start time is set for Noon.