MLAX : Physical play from Syracuse defense wreaks havoc on Providence’s offensive game plan

first_img Published on March 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Providence couldn’t have stalled the ball even if it wanted to. Its trademark method of offense was stymied early and often Wednesday, as Syracuse’s defense hacked and prodded the Friars’ scorers all night long. The SU defense forced turnovers and disrupted their offensive sets to severely limit their possessions.It was exactly the type of physical game the Orange wanted to engage in.‘Coach (Lelan) Rodgers told us to pressure the ball,’ freshman defender Brandon Mullins said of Syracuse’s defensive coordinator, ‘and we got after them and had a lot of fun.’Syracuse (4-2, 2-0 Big East) overmatched the Friars’ (1-4, 0-2 Big East) offense, knocking PC’s attack around to create an astounding 22 turnovers in the Orange’s 10-6 win Wednesday in the Carrier Dome. Typically, Providence employs a game plan of holding onto the ball as long as it can to temper SU’s fast-paced style of play, but it had no such luck of doing so this time. Syracuse double-teamed efficiently and repeatedly collapsed on whichever member of the Friars held the ball throughout the game.And the SU defense set that tone early.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly in the first quarter, Providence freshman attack Niall Cahill held the ball to the left of the SU goal. He tried to break out to the front of the goal, but Orange midfielder Kevin Drew and close defender David Hamlin had other ideas, as the two viciously caved in on him and began attacking Cahill to the point where he had nowhere to go. The ball popped out of his stick amid the scrum, and Hamlin scrambled over to scoop up the ground ball to gain possession for the Orange on a PC turnover.It was among the first of many turnovers that left SU head coach John Desko praising his defenders after the game.‘I thought the defense played very well. I thought our matchups were good there,’ Desko said. ‘Not only did they play good defense, I thought we created some good turnovers, got some double teams and, like (Mullins) said, we went out with the idea of putting some pressure on and seeing if we could force some turnovers.’The Orange applied that pressure early and maintained it the whole game. Providence had 12 turnovers in the first half and 10 in the second, and six PC players finished with at least two turnovers.Occasionally, though, SU was a bit too physical. Early in the first quarter, Hamlin was called for a 30-second slashing penalty that gave Providence a man-up opportunity, and the Friars converted to tie the game up 1-1.Then late in the third quarter, Hamlin repeated the penalty, and Providence took advantage of the extra-man chance once again.But the defense buckled down and stifled the Friars for most of the game.Syracuse’s defensive effort also gave Dominic Lamolinara the chance to ease into his first start at goaltender. Providence had so much trouble against the Orange’s overwhelming wall of defenders that it managed a meager five shots in the first half and only one goal. The Friars tried to make up for it in the second half, taking 11 shots and scoring five goals.But those five goals had more to do with a drop-off in communication than any let up of physicality by the defense.‘The second half, the talking was lacking, that’s on me,’ Lamolinara said. ‘There were some shots there I wish I could’ve had back, but you’ve just got to move on. I mean, they were hitting them, a lot more in the second half than in the first half, so I’m just glad I got the saves I got.’Mullins saw substantial time at close defense in place of sophomore Matt Harris, who moved up to play on the wing during faceoffs. The freshman played well, forcing two turnovers in the contest.It was a game during which no matter who was at close defense – inexperienced freshman or veteran defender – the Orange’s defense was overpowering. And Mullins took full advantage of his extended opportunity at close defense.‘He’s a good player. Physically he’s there, stick-work wise and for any freshman, it’s just game experience now,’ Desko said. ‘So it was great for him to get those kind of minutes for us as a freshman.’The Friars attempted a comeback, but they never really stood a chance. Not against an SU defensive effort that killed possessions early and often.From the start, the Orange defense smothered Providence’s scorers. And right to the end, the Friars never broke free.Said Mullins: ‘I think we locked them down for the most part.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more