Syracuse faced top ranked offenses and fell flat due to poor defense

first_img Published on March 22, 2017 at 12:13 am Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+ Virginia head coach Julie Myers used her postgame press conference on March 5 to offer Syracuse some advice: Before facing heavyweights Maryland and Florida, tighten up the middle of the defense.Though SU defeated UVA 16-15, the Cavaliers exposed cracks in the Orange’s leaky defense. Syracuse needed to overcome a nine-goal first-half deficit to maintain its then-perfect record. SU head coach Gary Gait had attributed falling behind early to a lack of energy, but opponents exploiting the Orange’s weakness up the middle has become commonplace this season.“It was a great lesson for us,” Gait said. “You have to show up to every game mentally prepared and focused.”In the following three contests, the cracks widened and the goals poured in. No. 8 Syracuse (8-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) allowed 17 goals to No. 1 Maryland, 19 to No. 3 Florida, and 16 to unranked Harvard and finished 1-2 in that span. SU has dropped each of the past two weeks in the rankings as a result of the losses caused by a porous defense.The Orange employs a zone defense meant to suffocate opposing attacks that excelled in its first four games of the season. SU easily dispatched unranked Boston College, Canisius, Binghamton and Massachusetts.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Historically, we like to play high pressure defense,” senior defender Haley McDonnell said. “We want to get you off your tilt.”Crisp slides and constant communication are normal indicators of Syracuse’s defense success. Recently, those signs are absent. Against Maryland on March 11, SU’s zone broke just 26 seconds into the match. Terrapin’s midfielder Jen Giles sidestepped Natalie Wallon and drew in three defenders. Kali Hartshorn backed down SU’s Kelsey Youmell, and beat Asa Goldstock to give Maryland a lead it never gave up.Goldstock has struggled this season, and SU’s lacking defense has not made it easier on the freshman. Opposing attack penetrate so far that their shots on the Niskayuna, New York, native come from feet away. Goldstock has posted a .456 save percentage through 10 games.Gait wishes SU would learn from its slow middle-defensive starts after the Virginia game, but it hasn’t. After falling behind 11-2 against the Cavaliers, SU trailed both Maryland and Florida, 7-2, in the first 15 minutes of each game.Albany first exploited the middle of the zone on Feb. 27, scoring 12 goals. Virginia furthered the issue. Against Maryland, Syracuse saw the dam break, losing its first game of the year.When asked what SU defenders failed to do against UVA, defender Kaeli O’Connor laughed and said, “play defense.”The middle of the defense that Myers said looked “awfully open” two weeks ago hasn’t shut, and Syracuse has paid the price. Commentslast_img