first_imgSyracuse has phase one down, but phase two is what’s creating trouble.The Orange’s faceoff specialists are consistently trapping the ball during faceoffs to win the first phase of the draw. But when they push the ball out, SU still isn’t consistently scooping up the ground ball to win phase two. That occurred once more Wednesday night in its 10-6 win over Providence, as the Friars held the final advantage at the X, winning 10-of-19 draws.‘It’s a work in progress, and I think once again our guys got the ball out a few times today, and we didn’t pick it up, so our ground balls need to improve,’ Syracuse head coach John Desko said. ‘Faceoffs a lot of times are a matchup thing, where one person will do well against one certain type of faceoff move, and if it’s not working sometimes you can counter with someone else and have better success.’SU hasn’t found a dependable faceoff specialist through six games, as Desko and faceoff coach Kevin Donahue continue to send a variety of players out to the X. Four different players took turns taking draws. Matt Harris and Kevin Drew played on the wings, but they often failed to pick up the ground ball when it was out in open space.Desko said Harris impressed with his performance at a time when the Orange is still trying to perfect both phases of the faceoffs.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘I think Matt Harris showed some pretty good improvement there on ground balls and really got after it,’ Desko said. ‘(He) missed a couple with pressure on him, but he was getting there, and he was getting after it and that’s all we can ask right now.’Faceoff victories are hugely important for Syracuse, not only to control the pace of the game, but also for opportunities to score in transition.When the Friars tied up the game 1-1, Daddio scooped up the ground ball after PC faceoff specialist Ryan Shaw lost track of the ball. SU gained possession, and midfielder JoJo Marasco took the ball to the outside, then cut back in toward the goal and shot from about 10 yards out to give Syracuse the 2-1 lead before the Friars’ defense could get into position.But those chances didn’t come as often as desired. Six games into the season, there’s still plenty of work to be done to improve at the X.‘But we’re working on a lot of things in practice,’ Desko said, ‘but we’ve got to keep working on ground balls.’Man-up opportunitiesJohn Desko knows Wednesday’s game could have easily been more lopsided.Syracuse dominated the Friars en route to victory but struggled on man-up opportunities offensively and man-down situations defensively. The Orange converted on just one of five opportunities, and the Friars scored three man-up goals to cut into Syracuse’s halftime lead.‘I think I looked up, and I think they had four goals and three of them were man-up,’ Desko said. ‘We didn’t capitalize on our man-ups, especially our two man-up, and there could have been more of a swing there, too.’The only time Providence seemed to get going offensively was when it had that advantage. The Friars’ first goal came when the Syracuse defense failed to extend on a tight pass in front of the goal and Providence attack Robert Fleming found the back of the net in one motion.Then in the second quarter with SU leading 6-1, Orange attack Tim Desko knifed his way in front of the net. As the Friars defense failed to knock the ball free, he drew three penalties in the process.The sequence ended with Tim Desko lying facedown on the turf after Providence midfielder Pete Wujciak flew in, unnoticed, and connected with a vicious hit.‘He seems to invite that kind of play. He sticks his nose in there, and I got a little concerned when I saw his head snap back,’ John Desko said. ‘You never like to see those head or neck injuries, but he came off and he just had a small cut on his nose and was able to go back in.’With Tim Desko on the sidelines, Syracuse couldn’t take advantage of a two-minute non-releasable penalty and a two-man advantage for one minute. And SU’s struggles allowed the Friars to gain some confidence and put a dent in the Orange lead with opportunities of their own.‘I feel like Pete Coleman had a pretty good shot, and it hit off the crossbar and it kind of changed it,’ Marasco said.‘The goalie made another save, and maybe just right now it was kind of tough and if we put a goal or two in there we knock them out of the entire game.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on March 21, 2012 at 12:00 pmlast_img