MLAX : SU hopes quick starts continue against Hoyas in Face-Off Classic
Stephen Keogh isn’t ready to write off Georgetown as a struggling team. He doesn’t see too much substance in the Hoyas’ slow start.
And that includes a Georgetown goaltender who’s still trying to find his way four games into the season.
‘I think they’re going to come out strong,’ Keogh said. ‘A lot of teams, when they see Syracuse on their schedule, they mark that game, and they’re going to come out high flying. Last year, they played us tough. They’re a good team.’
Syracuse opens up its Big East schedule against No. 20 Georgetown (2-2) in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic (11 a.m., ESPNU) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday. The Orange’s first road trip of the season will be against a Georgetown team still looking to make its mark as a competitive team. A win against No. 1 Syracuse would do exactly that because the Hoyas’ wins so far have come against unimpressive teams in Jacksonville and St. John’s.
To keep that from happening, getting to GU goaltender Jack Davis early could be pivotal.
Georgetown has played only one team ranked in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Top 20 through four games. The Hoyas lost 20-8 to No. 8 Maryland, giving up 14 goals to the Terps in the second half after going into halftime down by only two goals. In the game, Davis gave up 17 of those 20 goals.
So far this season, Davis hasn’t looked like a goaltender able to stop a Syracuse team that’s riding high at 3-0. Davis is yielding an average of 14 goals per game, which is 54th in the nation. But for SU head coach John Desko, that’s still not a reason to be any more aggressive when going to the goal.
‘We’re always careful in talking about the goaltenders,’ Desko said. ‘You don’t like your guys to overthink it. … I think when they start thinking about their shots, their percentages go down.’
Desko said Davis could come out ‘very hot’ against Syracuse, increasing his level of play against Georgetown’s biggest test of an opponent. Especially because he knows the Orange’s tendencies. It’s no secret Syracuse pushes the ball up the field and takes aggressive shots.
Many of those shots come in the first quarter, where Syracuse has outshot its opponents 33-16. Keogh said that can shake the confidence of the goaltenders early on, giving the Orange a chance to pull away with a quick lead.
Breaking Davis’ confidence — which is likely already fragile due to the slow start — early could be all Syracuse needs to do to continue its undefeated start to the season.
‘The past couple of games, we’ve come out flying out of the gate, getting to the goalies early, and they get a little rattled,’ Keogh said. ‘We’re definitely going to try to get to him early.’
Desko said the high number of first-quarter shots has a lot to do with the emotions of the team. In all three games, there have been reasons for the Orange to come out with added intensity.
Syracuse first came out hyped up to play its season opener. Then the Orange avenged its NCAA tournament loss from a year ago against Army. Last Friday, SU faced off with No. 2 Virginia.
On Saturday, those emotions aren’t likely to be any lower. The Orange will play at an NFL stadium in front of perhaps the largest crowd it has seen all year. And despite Georgetown’s struggles up to this point, Syracuse still expects the game to be a challenge.
‘I think they’re going to be a real tough test for us,’ long-stick midfielder Joel White said. ‘I think they’re going to be excited to come into the big stadium and try to prove something. Everyone’s trying to beat us.’
They might be trying, but no one’s been successful so far.
If Syracuse continues its early scoring barrage against Georgetown, it might be in for an easy victory. Especially because Orange goaltender John Galloway is giving up almost half as many goals per game as Davis is.
Facing a goaltender who’s susceptible to caving in to aggressive offenses, Syracuse knows it has an opportunity to take the Hoyas out of the game quickly. Even if Georgetown’s offense brings its best, an early deficit could be too much to overcome.
Said Keogh: ‘We want to bury the ball early and keep it rolling from there.’
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