Virginia Game Preview (2/27/21, 6pm)

Powellfan

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The Orange did not have the start to the season that many predicted or hoped in their game against Army, losing 18-11. I had thought there was a chance Army would pull off the upset, but was shocked to see the final score line. But the Orange can't spend a long feeling bad for themselves as they have one of the best teams in the country coming to the Dome on Saturday. What can we expect from Virginia, and what are the chances the Orange pull off the upset?

Offensively, UVA is very scary. Their top six might be the best in the country. The player with the biggest question marks in the offseason, former #1 recruit Conor Shellenberger leads the team in scoring. And oh yea, First Team AA quality midfielder Dox Aitkin is still getting his feet wet. Physically they are very imposing with Moore, Aitkin, Charlie Bertrand and of course, most scary of all, Payton Cormier. For SU, its going to be tough, especially after last week's dreadful performance on defense. If there is hope, it's that SU and UVA have an almost gentleman's agreement to roll the ball out there and play, there is not a lot of overthinking by the coaches, and this is what might have gotten SU stuck against Army (especially in the clearing game). Keys will be sliding and withstanding the UVA ride. SU can't freak out if a shorty gets matched up against Moore or Cormier, and need to be smart about when to slide. For years now it seems that the Orange spend much of the game overly concerned about matchup integrity, instead of just trying to play good, fundamental defense. Also, UVA is tenacious on the ride - SU didn't face much pressure against the Knights, but certainly looked rusty. They'll have to be ready.

On defense, the Cavs showed some cracks against a decent but not dominating Loyola team who had a lot of success jamming the ball in to the crease. Syracuse was able to jam the ball, but had a hard time finishing against Army. The Cavs have always struck me as a team with great athletes on defense, but one that doesn't play as a team. SU will have to move the ball and can't think they'll run by each of their defenders. Army clearly showed that SU is susceptible when the midfield is double poled, how does the Orange counter? Many of us are calling for Hiltz, we shall see if we see the move. Also the Cavs have one of the best LSMs in the country in Jarred Connors. Have to think that he'll draw the Dordevic matchup after the Army performance. Curry and Trimboli were quiet against the Knights, combining for 2 goals on 8 shots. Big question is who the Cavs will have in goal, Gavin, who came back to earth with only nine saves against Loyola, or the normal starter Rhode.

Perhaps the scariest part of this UVA team is the way their face-off unit is playing - Petey LaSalla is facing off at an absurd 73% and has three points on the season. He's quick and athletic. Phaup was a decent 60% against Army but wore down as the game went on and Varello only took 3 face-offs. Seems silly to look back to 2019, but the SU unit went 14-30 against UVA in their last matchup. Would be happy with that kind of performance to be honest.

So, does SU have a chance this weekend? Of course they do, but they will have to improve rapidly from last week. Gone must be the selfishness on offense, and the defense needs to communicate and move their feet. Hopefully the big loss will motivate and serve as a kick in the pants for a team that is a lot better than what they showed against Army. But I just don't think this is the week to beat UVA. Perhaps later in the season when they have their rematch, but right now I think SU has too much to work on. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but I'd be happy if the team shows improvement and starts playing like a team. They have tons of talent, but they need to wield it properly. Big question is if Desko and staff make personnel changes this week. Sounds crazy, starring down a 0-2 start against a top three team, but the sooner things change the better. Frankly, all the out of conference games this year are must wins, and if you start implementing new players at new spots against UVM, it might not be such a quick fix and be too late. Better to implement Hiltz at attack now, and if you are going to try new players at defense.
 

ivorytower

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Since Hoo's Dat is a frequent visitor here , I hereby make a knucklehead declaration that he is obligated to tell us in a forthright and honest manner how to attack and defend UVA.

If he does not comply then my hope is that our moderators will banish him to a lifetime of The Sabre gibber.
 

JeremyCuse

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The Orange did not have the start to the season that many predicted or hoped in their game against Army, losing 18-11. I had thought there was a chance Army would pull off the upset, but was shocked to see the final score line. But the Orange can't spend a long feeling bad for themselves as they have one of the best teams in the country coming to the Dome on Saturday. What can we expect from Virginia, and what are the chances the Orange pull off the upset?

Offensively, UVA is very scary. Their top six might be the best in the country. The player with the biggest question marks in the offseason, former #1 recruit Conor Shellenberger leads the team in scoring. And oh yea, First Team AA quality midfielder Dox Aitkin is still getting his feet wet. Physically they are very imposing with Moore, Aitkin, Charlie Bertrand and of course, most scary of all, Payton Cormier. For SU, its going to be tough, especially after last week's dreadful performance on defense. If there is hope, it's that SU and UVA have an almost gentleman's agreement to roll the ball out there and play, there is not a lot of overthinking by the coaches, and this is what might have gotten SU stuck against Army (especially in the clearing game). Keys will be sliding and withstanding the UVA ride. SU can't freak out if a shorty gets matched up against Moore or Cormier, and need to be smart about when to slide. For years now it seems that the Orange spend much of the game overly concerned about matchup integrity, instead of just trying to play good, fundamental defense. Also, UVA is tenacious on the ride - SU didn't face much pressure against the Knights, but certainly looked rusty. They'll have to be ready.

On defense, the Cavs showed some cracks against a decent but not dominating Loyola team who had a lot of success jamming the ball in to the crease. Syracuse was able to jam the ball, but had a hard time finishing against Army. The Cavs have always struck me as a team with great athletes on defense, but one that doesn't play as a team. SU will have to move the ball and can't think they'll run by each of their defenders. Army clearly showed that SU is susceptible when the midfield is double poled, how does the Orange counter? Many of us are calling for Hiltz, we shall see if we see the move. Also the Cavs have one of the best LSMs in the country in Jarred Connors. Have to think that he'll draw the Dordevic matchup after the Army performance. Curry and Trimboli were quiet against the Knights, combining for 2 goals on 8 shots. Big question is who the Cavs will have in goal, Gavin, who came back to earth with only nine saves against Loyola, or the normal starter Rhode.

Perhaps the scariest part of this UVA team is the way their face-off unit is playing - Petey LaSalla is facing off at an absurd 73% and has three points on the season. He's quick and athletic. Phaup was a decent 60% against Army but wore down as the game went on and Varello only took 3 face-offs. Seems silly to look back to 2019, but the SU unit went 14-30 against UVA in their last matchup. Would be happy with that kind of performance to be honest.

So, does SU have a chance this weekend? Of course they do, but they will have to improve rapidly from last week. Gone must be the selfishness on offense, and the defense needs to communicate and move their feet. Hopefully the big loss will motivate and serve as a kick in the pants for a team that is a lot better than what they showed against Army. But I just don't think this is the week to beat UVA. Perhaps later in the season when they have their rematch, but right now I think SU has too much to work on. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but I'd be happy if the team shows improvement and starts playing like a team. They have tons of talent, but they need to wield it properly. Big question is if Desko and staff make personnel changes this week. Sounds crazy, starring down a 0-2 start against a top three team, but the sooner things change the better. Frankly, all the out of conference games this year are must wins, and if you start implementing new players at new spots against UVM, it might not be such a quick fix and be too late. Better to implement Hiltz at attack now, and if you are going to try new players at defense.

Good post as always, hard to come up with a worse matchup for SU coming off of yesterday, yikes. So many areas of concern against UVA but FOGO and Defense are clearly the main two. Could get real ugly Saturday night.
 

DoctahLexus

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I would maybe push back slightly on expecting the worst for face offs. Lasalla and co went 16-9 against army while we went 18-13. Not a massive discrepancy really. Also while he did well against savio of Loyola, savio did not exactly dominate in the Loyola game against Richmond, winning 10 to their 7. I don’t believe Richmond has a highly touted guy and he at least was smoked by UNC over the weekend. Might suggest that savio is not quite as strong under the new rules, which I think will happen with certain guys. What I’m really hoping is that one of those guys is not Varello, who looked shaky in his brief appearances. It would suck if our two headed monster was no longer two headed.

Phaup did well but we got killed by violations in the second half, two before they even faced off. Dearth looked highly effective on the wing as usual. Clary and Barlow it was often hard to tell but there was at least one play where I thought to myself “Fernandez would get that ball.”
 

Powellfan

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I would maybe push back slightly on expecting the worst for face offs. Lasalla and co went 16-9 against army while we went 18-13. Not a massive discrepancy really. Also while he did well against savio of Loyola, savio did not exactly dominate in the Loyola game against Richmond, winning 10 to their 7. I don’t believe Richmond has a highly touted guy and he at least was smoked by UNC over the weekend. Might suggest that savio is not quite as strong under the new rules, which I think will happen with certain guys. What I’m really hoping is that one of those guys is not Varello, who looked shaky in his brief appearances. It would suck if our two headed monster was no longer two headed.

Phaup did well but we got killed by violations in the second half, two before they even faced off. Dearth looked highly effective on the wing as usual. Clary and Barlow it was often hard to tell but there was at least one play where I thought to myself “Fernandez would get that ball.”

I think the Army face off stats are a bit misleading for Virginia, Lasala went 12/16 and it seemed they went to their freshmen for the rest of the game when things were in hand. But you still make a good point, he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet (outside of Savio). And sometimes guys who are very good still don’t match up well with other guys.

My concern with Phaup in ‘19 was he seemed to tire late in games, and while that wasn’t the case in the five games last year, it was an issue yesterday. Was surprised Varello only took three draws, and we’d heard good things about the freshman Savage but he didn’t take any. I feel like he wins lots of draws but not very cleanly and he often ends up in scrums. Think that takes a toll on him throughout the game.
 

Laxatively

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It is easy to get psyched out by UVA's early season performance following Cuse's extremely poor showing against Army yesterday. I would like to provide a rationale for Cuse performing well against UVA this Saturday. Back in 2019, Cuse lost to UVA 15-14 in OT after some suspect refs calls and Cuse having the lead until late in the 4th. As we all remember, the 2019 UVA team were national champs with a core not much different than this year's team including a powerful offense. If anything, Cuse has more talent and experience now than the Cuse 2019 team with a similar core plus Scanlan, Hiltz. Also, UVA may be playing a frosh goalie this weekend or a "rusty" Alex Rode.

It will be tough as we are still working into game shape but there is definitely room for optimism now and later in the season.
 

Zack80

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Since Hoo's Dat is a frequent visitor here , I hereby make a knucklehead declaration that he is obligated to tell us in a forthright and honest manner how to attack and defend UVA.

If he does not comply then my hope is that our moderators will banish him to a lifetime of The Sabre gibber.

He might be willing to give you misinformation.
With so many informed posters here, this is a good location for him to collect information. He is well-trained at gleaning the wheat from the chaff.
 

Hoo's That

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Cormier is playing like you would expect a Canadian player to play - his stick work is really, really good and the ball comes out on both shots and passes from different locations.

Aitken is getting back into lacrosse shape from having the fall off for football at Villanova. He's been quiet for him. Barely played against Towson and getting increasing PT against Army and Loyola.

The Army game was Moore's first game back and he's looking like the Moore of previous years.

Shellenberger is living up to his hype so far. He has been really good on assists, having the only 3 for the team vs. Loyola.

Bertrand has been used on the 1st midfield, now that Moore is back. The starting offense is really 5 A (Moore, Shellenberger, Laviano, Bertrand, and Cormier) and 1 M (Aitken). Pick your poison to have a shortie cover.

Close defense was a problem last year with Saustad out, so 2 1st years, Bauer from TX and Matsui from MN, were starters along with Kology. Kology, Saustad, and Bauer will start and Matsui is the 4th. Jared Connors is back at LSM.

Rode was out the last two games with no real discussion of why. Gavin, the 1st year, started out rough vs. Army but got his feet under him and played well for the rest of the game. He was OK vs Loyola. The big thing that sets Gavin apart from Rode is Gavin is a better passer. Both of them are goalies who make most of the saves they should make. Gavin seemed to be in good position in terms of tracking a moving ball carrier.

One thing that absolutely, positively needs to be mentioned is that Nike, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that we should wear "your" uniforms. We should not be wearing them; they're yours. So if you see something that seems familiar, but in blue, not orange, you'll know why. I keep harping on how the best blue uniforms we had are (IIRC) now against the rules because the numbers aren't a solid contrasting color.

56c707bfa71e9.jpg
 

ivorytower

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Do not reward that sly VA spy with any "likes" but rather orange disdain

Hoo Dat said much but said little.

A trait of UVA graduates who skillfully dodge , he's likely a Washington politician.

Had hoped for some Deep Throat info or Sammy the Bull insight but got Captain Obvious

A Trojan horse who gathers from our open forum to dispense to those Sabre inbreds

If Cuse is victorious , shall enter that cesspool and sow discord under Hoo's Diss.
 

Zack80

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I think one thing Syracuse definitely needs to do is handle Virgnia's ride.

I don't think any of Virginia's starting midfielders (Bertrand, Shellenberger, or Dickson) are natural midfielders, so I think I would try to get down the field quickly and try to trap one of them on the defensive end.
 

wgdsr

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I think one thing Syracuse definitely needs to do is handle Virgnia's ride.

I don't think any of Virginia's starting midfielders (Bertrand, Shellenberger, or Dickson) are natural midfielders, so I think I would try to get down the field quickly and try to trap one of them on the defensive end.
the mids do a good job of locking off in a live ball turnover, and getting off with hustle in a dead ball to prevent that from happening. throw in the att in the face of d-g-d and making people tough to find upfield, and they rarely get trapped.
 

wgdsr

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virginia's defense in 2019 took quite a while to get going. particularly shorties. last year, short season, the d was not good.

granted, there are more possessions than typical at their pace, but the sum of parts early season has not had a good run lately.

faceoffs might provide cover for that, but they're certainly not there yet. including what should be a strength, the close d.

one of the top 3 ssdm's just converted from o mid and was an attackman in hs and a walkon at uva. he's very fast but small. the other 2 fox and salade are solid athletes but if attacked enough aren't infallible. i don't recall uva double poling anyone in the near past, though cuse is unique.

offensively, i don't have any good answers for ya on weak spots yet. mix it up? they will force things inside and thru the defense and if you can turn some of those live turnovers into a goal or 2 off the ground and into transition, that may be a plan.
 

OrangeXtreme

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John Desko’s intuition tells him his Syracuse lacrosse team’s season-opening loss is a matter of getting caught up to speed with its competition with the number of practice days and games.

He saw what we all did during a stunning, 18-11 loss to Army last weekend. Communication lapses in close defense left point-blank shots on goal. Some midfielders took transition defense to be optional. It was an unexpected performance for a team carrying national championship expectations and returning a boatload of experience off last year’s stellar group.

Only three weeks since starting a scrimmage-less preseason, the Orange is lagging in prep time compared to some opponents, including this weekend’s visitor, Virginia.

“Frankly, we’re behind,” Desko said Wednesday. “That’s nothing we have any control over, so we’ve just got to dig in and do the best we can.”

It’s why Desko is holding off on making any major changes to his defensive lineup ahead of Saturday night’s game against No. 2/3 Virginia (6 p.m. faceoff on ACC Network)...

Brett Kennedy, Nick DiPietro and Grant Murphy remain the top close defenders, and Desko said Mitch Wykoff, a transfer from Gettysburg, should be active for Saturday’s game for the first time this season.
 

JeremyCuse

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John Desko’s intuition tells him his Syracuse lacrosse team’s season-opening loss is a matter of getting caught up to speed with its competition with the number of practice days and games.

He saw what we all did during a stunning, 18-11 loss to Army last weekend. Communication lapses in close defense left point-blank shots on goal. Some midfielders took transition defense to be optional. It was an unexpected performance for a team carrying national championship expectations and returning a boatload of experience off last year’s stellar group.

Only three weeks since starting a scrimmage-less preseason, the Orange is lagging in prep time compared to some opponents, including this weekend’s visitor, Virginia.

“Frankly, we’re behind,” Desko said Wednesday. “That’s nothing we have any control over, so we’ve just got to dig in and do the best we can.”

It’s why Desko is holding off on making any major changes to his defensive lineup ahead of Saturday night’s game against No. 2/3 Virginia (6 p.m. faceoff on ACC Network)...

Brett Kennedy, Nick DiPietro and Grant Murphy remain the top close defenders, and Desko said Mitch Wykoff, a transfer from Gettysburg, should be active for Saturday’s game for the first time this season.

Wykoff being active will be major help, wouldn't be surprised if he saw time at lsm
 

Laxatively

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Wykoff being active will be major help, wouldn't be surprised if he saw time at lsm
Interesting statement from Desko: "I think you’re going to see some different players in, in the future, but that’s because of how they’re doing in practice."

Given Desko's tendency to say very little about making changes, this statement is revealing - clearly there are players currently performing as well as or better in practice than the regulars. The tinkering, if it happens, will likely be during the Vermont-Hofstra stretch.
 

ivorytower

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Interesting statement from Desko: "I think you’re going to see some different players in, in the future, but that’s because of how they’re doing in practice."

Given Desko's tendency to say very little about making changes, this statement is revealing - clearly there are players currently performing as well as or better in practice than the regulars. The tinkering, if it happens, will likely be during the Vermont-Hofstra stretch.
Agree. Statesman are measured and not quick to overreact to one game but mindset could be in step with Jeremy Cuse's " One day after thoughts" . Hiltz minutes will increase before he starts, Wykoff assimilates somewhere and a Fiorini appetizer may be ready to be served while the Savage could be infrequently released. Some others could later receive some reps if opportunity presents.
 

OrangeXtreme

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Interesting statement from Desko: "I think you’re going to see some different players in, in the future, but that’s because of how they’re doing in practice."

Given Desko's tendency to say very little about making changes, this statement is revealing - clearly there are players currently performing as well as or better in practice than the regulars. The tinkering, if it happens, will likely be during the Vermont-Hofstra stretch.

I liked this statement:

"Some midfielders took transition defense to be optional. "
 

JeremyCuse

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Interesting statement from Desko: "I think you’re going to see some different players in, in the future, but that’s because of how they’re doing in practice."

Given Desko's tendency to say very little about making changes, this statement is revealing - clearly there are players currently performing as well as or better in practice than the regulars. The tinkering, if it happens, will likely be during the Vermont-Hofstra stretch.

Agreed, 100%. with your thoughts. As I noted Desko and the staff have a habit of giving an upperclassmen or a returning a guy a chance to hold onto their spot before they are ultimately usurped. I have to say it's a bit frustrating to hear a guy will eventually get to play, if there performing now then play them, period. I know you don't want to overreact to one game, but its clear there are several players who have eared PT based on their play in practice, UVA or not they should play and we stop delaying the inevitable.
 

ivorytower

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That is quite indicting, an important facet that is rarely dissected here

defending transition is as important as transitioning
 

wgdsr

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we can parse words, but what he didn't say was they have earned pt to date based on their play in practice.
 

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