Keough remedies Orange face-off troubles
With the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team struggling desperately to win face-offs, SU senior Geoff Keough knew he needed to change the pace in the face-off circle.
Sophomore Danny Brennan tried and failed to control draws for the Orange early in the first half. Virginia won 8 of 11 first-half draws and controlled possession for a majority of the half.
With 13:15 remaining in the third quarter, Keough entered. While he helped the Orange control more draws, he ultimately couldn’t do enough, as Syracuse fell to the Cavaliers, 12-11.
‘Guys like Geoff Keough stepped up on big possessions,’ said Syracuse head coach John Desko. ‘Especially in a tight game, you need face-offs and possessions because it’s just one more opportunity.’
With the help of Keough, the Orange closed the face-off gap, losing on the draws, 14-13. Keough won 6 of 12 draws. He lost his last two attempts, leading to Brennan’s re-entry.
Brennan finished 7-of-14 and Chris DiMarco lost one face-off opportunity. Keough’s biggest plays came during the Orange’s third-quarter run, which brought SU within a goal. He repeatedly won draws after SU goals, allowing the Orange to retain possession.
But after SU took a 10-9 lead early in the fourth quarter, Keough lost back-to-back draws, allowing Virginia to retake an 11-10 advantage. With Keough a liability on the defensive end, Desko returned to Brennan.
He promptly won three straight draws, setting up Brian Crockett’s goal, which brought SU within a score. Brennan’s face-off win with 1:14 remaining set up Syracuse’s potential game-tying possession.
‘You have to go on a run, and it’s whoever has the hot hand,’ Keough said. ‘Last week Danny had the hot hand; this week I had to go in there and help him with a couple.’
Bucktooth’s big day
Junior Brett Bucktooth had his best performance since moving to attack before the season, scoring a career-high three goals and four points.
In a season-opening 9-4 win over Army last Saturday, Bucktooth contributed three assists, but against Virginia he found his scoring touch.
He played middie his first two seasons at Syracuse. The graduation of all of SU’s attackmen except Crockett forced Bucktooth’s move – he played attack in high school.
With 1:59 left in the second quarter, Bucktooth took a Crockett pass on a man-up and scored from the point, tying the score at four. With 12:40 left in the third quarter, he bounced a shot past Virginia goalie Kip Turner, bringing the Orange within two. Then, with 9:18 left in the third quarter, Bucktooth picked up a groundball and scored, closing the Cavaliers lead to 8-6.
Bucktooth, though, was still unhappy with his and the entire offense’s shot selection.
‘We have to practice taking better shots and finding the open net,’ Bucktooth said. ‘We eventually got a few goals, but it was hard.’
Before the game in a brief ceremony, the Orange raised its 2004 NCAA National Championship banner. SU defeated Navy, 14-13, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore last Memorial Day to win its ninth national championship.
The Orange raised the banner alongside the previous eight. Its 1990 championship was stripped by the NCAA, but Syracuse still keeps the banner and counts the championship.
Last season, Virginia raised its 2003 national championship banner prior to an 18-12 loss to Syracuse. The Cavaliers conducted an extended ceremony, and Syracuse said the ceremony motivated the Orange.
‘They’re the national champions and they have the right to do whatever they want,’ said Virginia attackman Matt Ward. ‘Raising that – good for them. But our concern was getting off to a fast start, not worrying about pregame stuff.’
Syracuse purposely kept the ceremony short, not wanting to incite Virginia. Players stood near the sideline and applauded as Carrier Dome public-address announcer Carl Eilenberg annunciated the championship.
‘What happened last year is over,’ Crockett said. ‘We had a big game. The ceremony didn’t affect us.’
This and that
For the second straight time at the Carrier Dome, Virginia defeated Syracuse by one goal. In 2003, Virginia beat the Orange, 16-15. … In a relatively penalty-free game, the Orange finished 2-for-3 on extra-man opportunities, while UVA finished 0-for-1.
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