MLAX : FACED WITH DEFEAT: Duke dominates faceoff X to send it to 1st round win over Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ DURHAM, N.C. – Stick over head, Tim Desko walked slowly onto the field for the final time in his Syracuse career. Down by four goals to Duke with 25 seconds left, the Orange’s season was all but over.When the clock finally ran out, Desko and his teammates tried to cope with the bitter end as they came together on the field. Tommy Palasek threw his arm around Kevin Drew as they walked into the huddle while the Blue Devils celebrated their NCAA tournament victory.Then the SU players took one final walk together to the locker room, frustrated by the loss but content they had challenged Duke in the first-round matchup.‘We never quit,’ Palasek said. ‘We may not have come out on top but the guys showed great hustle the whole game.’Syracuse fought to erase an early deficit, but Duke (14-4) responded with a crippling four-goal scoring run that ultimately spelled the end of the Orange’s (9-8) season in a 12-9 loss in front of 3,672 at Koskinen Stadium on Saturday. After enduring an up-and-down regular season, Syracuse’s biggest deficiency all year haunted the team in the first round of the NCAA tournament. SU finished the game only 7-of-24 at the faceoff X, and went just 2-of-10 in the third period, setting the stage for a dominant five-minute run by the Blue Devils that put the game out of reach.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe quarter led to the end of a season in which SU fell to its lowest national ranking since 2007, lost its first Big East contests and struggled to compete with the nation’s elite. On Saturday, head coach John Desko found himself talking about the same shortcoming that doomed his team in many of its seven of its previous defeats this season.‘I don’t know what else to say,’ Desko said. ‘They won faceoffs and they were able to keep the ball on their offense and make us play a lot of defense in the second half.’The Orange appeared ready to battle Duke in the second half after SU midfielder Kevin Drew evened the score at 5-5 just 25 seconds into the third period.Drew’s hard drive down the right alley ignited a roar from the SU sideline and energized the Orange players on the field.But the excitement was short-lived as Duke ripped off four unanswered goals to take a commanding 9-5 lead in the next five-plus minutes.‘Again, our third quarter was our kryptonite,’ SU defender Brian Megill said. ‘We let them go on a run and we just couldn’t come back from it.’Duke midfielder Robert Rotanz seized the lead for his team 51 seconds after SU finally tied it for the first time.The Blue Devils would never relinquished that lead as their attack executed flawlessly against the Orange defense while Brendan Fowler and Greg DeLuca dominated the faceoff X.Rotanz pushed the lead to two goals a little over two minutes after his first and Josh Dionne and Christian Walsh burned the SU defense and freshman goaltender Bobby Wardwell for two more.Meanwhile, Palasek and the SU attack were reduced to spectators. During the decisive four-goal run, Syracuse had only one possession for 36 seconds.‘It’s tough to watch because you want the ball especially when you’re having success getting some shots that we liked,’ Palasek said. ‘But it’s even tougher to watch to have our defense sit there and play so much defense and not be able to help at all.’With the offense neutralized, the Orange never got closer than three goals the rest of the way. And for Desko, the loss was due in large part to his team’s futility at the faceoff X – ‘a common theme’ for his team’s struggles all year.Desko said there wasn’t much his team could have done differently. SU was stuck playing defense the majority of the half, making it too tough to overcome the deficit in the loss.It all led to that final walk to the locker room, when the players piled their sticks into a bin on the field, ready to be packed together following the close of a mediocre season in the program’s proud history.And it all came down to faceoffs once again.‘They’d score a goal, win the faceoff and go down and play offense and we just couldn’t get the ball to our offense,’ Desko said. ‘My hat’s off to them, I thought they played a very good game today.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Published on May 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected]last_img

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