Syracuse’s defense dominates without Nick Mellen in 17-4 win over Binghamton

first_img Published on February 15, 2020 at 6:41 pm Contact Mitchell: mbannon@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+ Binghamton’s Thomas Greenblat drove toward the Syracuse net but was soon met by 6-foot-3 Peter Dearth. Instead of trying to beat his man, Greenblatt elected to dump the ball off to Quinn O’Hara who was then pressured by SU’s Brett Barlow. As Barlow closed in, the Bearcat attack sent a pass to X that was well out of reach. While the ball rolled out of bounds, Binghamton’s Ryan McBeth leaned over, put his hands on his knees and stared at the ground.No Orange player got credit for causing it, but that sequence was one of the Bearcats’ 21 turnovers Saturday — all of which Syracuse’s All-American captain close defender Nick Mellen watched from the sideline. Mellen left last week’s Colgate game with a muscular injury and is considered “week-to-week,” head coach John Desko said. Without their primary coverage defender and leader of the back-end, Syracuse’s (2-0) defense still dominated the Bearcats, holding Binghamton (0-2) to just 21 shots in a 17-4 victory in the Carrier Dome. “We were doing everything we discussed in the game plan and everything we wanted to improve upon,” Drake Porter said. “I couldn’t be happier with how the guys played in front of me.”Though Grant Murphy stepped in at close defense in place of Mellen, it was Brett Kennedy who filled his role covering the opponent’s top attack. All game, Kennedy followed Bearcat Will Talbott-Shere, Binghamton’s 2019 point leader, in the defensive zone — reaching with his pole to constantly keep Talbott-Shere within reach. The Binghamton junior, who scored in five consecutive games last year, was held to just one assist Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPostgame, Desko said the defense had been working with assistant Lelan Rogers all week to improve communication. With Mellen standing between SU’s Owen Hull and Jerry Staats on the sideline for most of the game, Murphy, who Desko has said to be one of the team’s better communicators, stood in front of SU’s crease and called out to teammates — waiving them into position. Murphy’s experience at short-stick defensive midfield last season allowed him to smoothly jell with the close defensive unit.“I’ve been playing day in day out with these guys for three years,” Murphy said earlier this season. “Even though I was a shorty, that communication didn’t change, it stays the same.”With 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Syracuse’s Landon Clary shuffled back and forth outside Porter’s crease, keeping the head of his stick glued to Binghamton’s Vincent Basile. Twice, Bearcat attacks looked to pass it off to Basile, but both times Clary stepped in front and dissuaded the attempt. Clary came in at the beginning of the fourth quarter, replacing Kennedy in the blowout. In the freshman’s first college lacrosse experience, SU’s defense allowed only two shots with him on the field.“(Clary) was very aware of what was going on, his head was on a swivel,” Desko said. “Many times, you get in your first college game of your career, you tend to ball watch or just focus on your man.”Last week, SU had a perfect clearing percentage, but without Mellen to help facilitate Saturday, the Orange’s rate dropped 12.5%. Porter said postgame the Bearcats ran a different ride than the one SU watched film on, but that the 87.5% clearance rate (which still would have ranked eighth in the country last season) came down to a few mistakes.With seconds remaining in the first half, and Binghamton down only six, Porter dished a pass to Kennedy on his right after making a save. With a Bearcat attack immediately pressing him, Kennedy passed it back to Porter who soon after sent a pass over Grant Murphy’s head and out of play.Syracuse’s leaderless defense was not perfect Saturday, but it was still dominant. Even without Mellen, it suffocated a Binghamton offense like title-aspiring teams are supposed to. Commentslast_img

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