MLAX : SU readies for 1st road game expecting best from Villanova

first_img Comments John Desko can watch as much tape of Syracuse’s opponents as he wants. But when it comes down to it, sometimes it doesn’t matter.‘I’ve seen this all year long,’ Desko said. ‘I’ve watched a lot of tape on the other teams, and the team that I’ve just watched tape on that play us are a different team when they play Syracuse. We bring out the best in everybody.’As the No. 1 Orange (6-0, 1-0 Big East) prepares to head to Philadelphia to play No. 11 Villanova (7-1, 0-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m., it’s once again expecting to play in a playoff-like game. That’s what happens when teams promote their games against Syracuse to be the most important of the season. For the Orange, though, it’s simply a matter of having to adjust.With a perfect start thus far, it hasn’t had much of a problem doing so. Desko said Villanova likely scheduled a night game on Saturday so the high school teams in the area can play their games during the day and then watch the Wildcats battle the Orange at night.‘That’s what we’ve been seeing so far, is just a challenge every week,’ Desko said. ‘And that comes with being No. 1 and comes with wearing an Orange jersey.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has to go in prepared for everything because it never knows what exactly teams are going to throw at it. In seemingly every game, teams play better against Syracuse. And that’s been the case even more when it comes to opposing goaltenders, some of whom have struggled all season long until they play SU. All of a sudden, they become forces in between the pipes.Against Georgetown on March 12, Syracuse struggled getting the ball past Hoya goaltender Jack Davis. Going into the game, Davis was allowing an average of 14 goals per contest. Against the Orange, he was a completely different player. The game went into overtime, when Syracuse scored to get a 9-8 win. On paper, the game could have been a blowout.In Villanova’s biggest game of the season, getting the ball past goaltender Billy Hurley won’t get any easier. Hurley is allowing only about eight goals per game. It’s a challenge Syracuse has grown accustomed to.‘I think that a lot of the weekends we play, it’s been the game of the year for the other team,’ Desko said. ‘Hopefully, we’re getting used to that. … And that’s a good thing. If we survive it, it makes us stronger.’First, though, Syracuse has to break through Villanova’s stifling defense. Desko said he expects the Wildcats to play both man-to-man and zone defenses. It’s zone defenses, though, that have given Syracuse a problem all year.‘A lot of people want to take that shot from the outside and get that goal, and then that leads to mistakes,’ Keogh said. ‘When we call timeouts and Coach talks about patience and looking for that one shot, it’s worked for us so far.’But Keogh said instead of waiting until the fourth quarter to be patient and find the right shot, the Orange needs to do it from the very beginning. In practice, the SU coaches get the offense ready to see both styles of defense. Of course, whatever defense Villanova plays will be its best. That’s been the story of the Orange’s season.Although Villanova isn’t one of Syracuse’s most formidable opponents, it has the potential to be as tough a game as any the Orange has played. The Wildcats have already beaten three ranked opponents in Drexel, Pennsylvania and Princeton.‘We really need to buckle down,’ SU long-stick midfielder Joel White said. ‘I don’t think we’ve played a 60-minute game yet, and I think it’s going to be real tough for us.’Every game has been tough because of the way opponents ratchet up their level of intensity to try to be the one to take down Syracuse. That won’t be any different on Saturday.For Desko, there isn’t much of a drawback in playing opponents’ highest level of play. For a team aiming to win its third championship in four years, it’s only a benefit in the long term.Said Desko: ‘What doesn’t kill you hopefully makes you better.’cjiseman@syr.edu Published on March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_isemancenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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