Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 11-9 comeback win over Albany in the NCAA tournament

first_img Published on May 15, 2016 at 9:50 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds After trailing for the entire first half, No. 8 seed Syracuse (12-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) came from behind to beat Albany (12-4, 6-0 America East), 11-9, on Sunday night at the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Orange’s will face top-seeded Maryland in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday. Following Sunday’s victory, Syracuse is 14-1 all-time against the Great Danes.Here are three takeaways from the game.X-factorSyracuse faceoff specialist Ben Williams had been a stalwart all season and ranked ninth in the nation entering Sunday with a 63.1 winning percentage at the X. But Williams went 0-for-5 in the first quarter as the Great Danes jumped out to a 3-1 lead.He won 17-of-24 when the two teams played in February and after that game Albany head coach Scott Marr said the faceoffs were the difference. Since the Great Danes had so few possessions, it was hard for its offense to get going, he said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’m not a fan of the faceoff,” Marr said. “… John (Desko) was too until he got a guy like that.”But starting in the second quarter on Sunday, Williams turned things around and went 4-of-5 in the second frame and 4-of-7 in the third quarter. That gave Syracuse extra possessions and allowed the Orange to get in an offensive rhythm. Syracuse eventually tied the game up at the end of the third quarter and again in the fourth.Desko complained on the sideline about Albany’s Zach Ornstein pinning his elbow against Williams, but the referees didn’t budge. Still, the Orange escaped with the win as Williams went 12-of-24.The O, once sleeping, awakenedSyracuse’s offense had its worst half of the season in the first frame. The Orange scored just two goals, setting a new low after scoring just four against Notre Dame earlier in the year.Albany’s defense stayed on SU’s offensive players and didn’t slide much. All season long, Syracuse created offense with ball movement and by drawing slides to create perimeter shooting chances. But with the Great Danes staying on their matchups, the space was never created. In the two teams’ first matchup on Feb. 21, Syracuse took 59 shots. On Sunday, it took just 39.But the offense eventually woke up and tied the game up at seven heading into the third quarter. Back-to-back goals by Nick Mariano and Tim Barber cut the deficit to two and then Matt Lane and Derek DeJoe knotted it up later in the third quarter. Syracuse’s offense started working the ball more effectively and the scoreboard reflected the adjustment.The Orange scored seven in the second half as it spread the ball to eight different goal-scorers.LeashedJunior goalie Evan Molloy became Syracuse’s starter midway through the year and justified his starting spot by winning ACC tournament MVP. But he allowed two open-net goals. In the second quarter, Connor Fields snagged the ball out of the air after Molloy passed it and Fields finished on the empty net to put Albany up, 6-2, before halftime.With just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Molloy saved a Fields shot from 10 yards out. He popped it into the air and kickstarted Syracuse’s transition offense as short-stick defensive midfielder Joe Gillis scored just his seventh goal of the season on the other end. The goal gave SU a 10-8 lead.As Albany possessed the ball with under two minutes to play, Molloy made another diving stop to preserve the lead. He finished with 12 saves and allowing just three second-half goals was a key to Syracuse’s comeback win. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img