WLAX : Syracuse offense looks to carry momentum into NCAA quarterfinals matchup with North Carolina

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ For 12 games during the middle of this season, the Syracuse offense was nearly unstoppable.But on April 27, Loyola (Md.) held SU scoreless in the final 15 minutes of their matchup. The following weekend in the Big East tournament, Syracuse scored just 14 goals in two games, eventually losing to the Greyhounds in the Big East championship to snap its 15-game winning streak.‘We definitely got caught up in a couple slumps,’ SU head coach Gary Gait said. ‘And we had to kind of fight our way out of them to get back to where we are comfortable.’That slump ended against Dartmouth in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The fourth-seeded Orange topped that two-game scoring total in a 15-5 victory over the Big Green. And with a trip to the final four on the line, SU (17-3) will try to carry that offensive momentum into Saturday’s quarterfinals matchup with No. 5 North Carolina (15-3) in the Carrier Dome at 1 p.m.The explosive Tar Heels attack could give SU problems. North Carolina ranks 18th in the nation with 13.06 goals per game with Tewaaraton Trophy finalist attack Becky Lynch leading the team’s up-tempo style of play. And last Saturday, they used that up-tempo attack to defeat Navy 14-7 in Chapel Hill, N.C. and advance to a quarterfinals matchup with the Orange.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut SU also boasts an offense that can light up the scoreboard, ranking sixth in the country with 14.9 goals per game.And the offense is clicking again after that 15-goal first round performance.‘Coming off a big second half against Dartmouth has helped us because we have started slow against a lot of teams,’ SU attack Michelle Tumolo said. ‘But knowing that we played our Syracuse lacrosse in the second Dartmouth half was a good feeling because we haven’t played that in a while.’Since the first round of the Big East tournament, the attacking midfielders have played perhaps their best three-game stretch of the season.Sarah Holden scored a team-high four goals against the Big Green and scored twice in the Big East tournament. Fellow midfielders Katie Webster and Bridget Daley have scored two and three goals respectively in the last three games as opposing defenses have packed themselves tightly inside the eight-meter arc to limit Tumolo, Alyssa Murray and the rest of Syracuse’s potent attack.‘When Michelle and Murray are getting shut off it obviously gives other people a chance to step up such as Bridget Daley and (Amy) Cross,’ Holden said. ‘We have a pretty deep bench so I think we’re all able to contribute.’The Orange is usually the team on the field trying to speed up the tempo of the game, but North Carolina also employs an aggressive attack.The SU defense will be focused on shutting down those chances for the Tar Heels.‘They’re really good in transition and it comes from mainly their attacking players and we really like to transition and it comes from our defensive players,’ Holden said. ‘So I think the game might be a little slower paced possibly lower scoring to shut down their attackers.’Lynch, the Tewaaraton finalist, leads the Tar Heels in points (61), is tied for the team lead in assists (20), and is second on the team in goals (41).Gait said the Orange will need to limit Lynch to prevent North Carolina from controlling the pace of the game.‘(We’ll) try and limit their scoring opportunities, make it count for her to get in the game,’ Gait said. ‘Try and make her rely on the other players to get the job done.’North Carolina also has a top defense supporting Lynch and the offense. The Tar Heels’ 7.17 goals allowed per game are second in the nation, so the SU attack faces a stiff challenge.Still, the Orange has torched its fair share of elite defenses this season. In two games against Dartmouth (No. 16 in goals against), SU scored 37 goals. Against Towson’s No. 9 ranked defense, Syracuse scored 18 goals. And against No. 3 Maryland’s No. 4 ranked defense, the Orange scored 10 goals on the road.SU always has the potential to make a great defense look bad. And it’s hoping its potent attack can do it again to reach the final four.‘When we get momentum going we’re able to carry it through two, three, four games and make a run with it,’ Gait said. ‘… It’s really key that we have the middies scoring, our subs, everybody. That’s why I think they all feel pretty comfortable and hopefully we can play a game with some of those non-Michelle Tumolo type players.’[email protected]center_img Published on May 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2last_img

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