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  • Syracuse controls pace in 2nd half of comeback victory over Virginia

    first_img Published on February 25, 2013 at 12:43 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb One half dictated by Virginia’s slow style of play, the polar opposite of Syracuse’s approach, was more than enough to tick off Gary Gait.“I don’t know, I wanted to smash something. But there wasn’t anything to break,” the SU head coach said with a laugh about his halftime speech.After a first half in which the Cavaliers completely controlled the game’s pedestrian tempo, Syracuse came out of the break and reversed the pace of the contest. The No. 6 Orange (2-1) fought back from a four-goal deficit and triumphed 10-9 over No. 7 Virginia (2-1) on Sunday in front of 849 fans at the Carrier Dome.The Orange got a long, early look at UVA’s offensive tactics.SU won the opening draw, but missed its first three shots of the possession. On UVA’s first possession, the Cavaliers worked the ball around the perimeter for nearly two minutes before attack Casey Bocklet charged toward the cage and put UVA on the board.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Cavaliers took the second draw, and again tossed the ball around for two minutes.“We’ve played Virginia every year for a while now. That’s their style of play,” said Syracuse attack Alyssa Murray.The lengthy possession ended with UVA attack Caroline McTiernan cutting past Natalie Glanell, catching and scoring to put Virginia up 2-0.Virginia clearly came out planning to work the clock, take its time on each possession and not force any shots. UVA calmly and selectively chose when to attack the cage – each of the Cavaliers’ first four shots found the back of the net.Twenty-five goal-less minutes in, the Orange found itself down by four scores. The Orange’s stagnant attack was left standing and watching from the other half of the field.“It’s a hard team to play against when our team really likes to run and gun and feed off of energy and stuff,” Murray said. “They really are good at taking the wind out of your sails when you’re playing.”In the final four minutes of the half, Murray scored twice in 55 seconds to cut the deficit in half, but a Cavaliers goal in the final minute gave Virginia a 5-2 lead at the break.And that’s when Gait lit a flame under his team.“Obviously, in the first half we just, you know – the energy wasn’t quite there,” Gait said. “We were a step behind on some loose balls, and at halftime they came out and they turned it around.”After the teams split the first-half draws at four each, the Orange took over at the faceoff X. Syracuse won eight of the 13 second-half draws and swung the time of possession in its favor.“When you’re playing a team that’s playing stall lacrosse and possession lacrosse, trying to hold the ball for three, four, five minutes at a time, you need to have possession of the ball,” Gait said.Slowly but surely, SU fought back. Facing two three-goal deficits, Syracuse scored four goals – three of which were possessions earned at the faceoff X – and cut the deficit to one.Michelle Tumolo drew a foul and dumped off the free-position ball to Devon Collins, who scored to knot the game at eight. The Orange won the ensuing draw and less than two minutes later, Murray drew a foul. She capitalized on the free-position shot for her fourth goal, giving Syracuse its first lead with 12:04 remaining.“I think we went to the goal a lot more, and obviously, our shot selection was much better than right into the goalie’s stick,” Tumolo said.But the Cavaliers went right back to slowing the game down and waiting for their opportunity. Almost two minutes after UVA won the draw, Morgan Stephens drove and scored her third goal of the game to tie the game at nine.Syracuse couldn’t score at the other end, but Becca Block sneakily checked the ball as Virginia continued its time-consuming methods. Block picked up the ground ball and almost two minutes later, Kayla Treanor scored the decisive goal with 4:56 left.Twenty-five minutes into the game and four goals down, the Orange appeared to be heading down the same path it did last week, a 19-11 home beating at the hands of Maryland. But tweaks and mentality adjustments at halftime saved Syracuse from consecutive losses at home.“So I tried to stay calm and tell the players to look inside and challenge themselves to be better than they were,” Gait said. “… And have the courage to make a play and make something happen, and they did.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more