Syracuse struggles against packed-in Lindenwood defense in 2-0 win

first_imgNicole Renault grabbed the puck just moments after the opening faceoff. She skated past the blue line, expecting her Lindenwood defender to step up and force the puck loose before she would make a pass to Danielle Leslie, who was cutting through the middle of the zone.But that defender stayed back, playing closer to the net than Renault had anticipated. Her pass to Leslie was subsequently cut off, and the Lions began to take the puck in the opposite direction.Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan knew his team wouldn’t have the same offensive success as it did on Friday, when the Orange scored six goals against Lindenwood. While Syracuse’s defense provided enough stability for a 2-0 victory, its lackluster offense had trouble overcoming a packed-in defensive unit from Lindenwood (8-22-4, 5-11-4 College Hockey America), a problem the Orange (18-13-3, 14-4-2) has struggled with throughout the season.“It was a little frustrating,” Renault said. “They put a lot of people in front of the net. It was hard to get through. We just had to use (our two goals) to push us forward.”Syracuse stuck to its usual offensive game plan in the first period as the Orange tried to use the net as a tool to open up shot opportunities.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut it never worked for SU. Megan Quinn’s pass in front of the net to Heather Schwarz was intercepted before she even touched the puck. Two minutes later, Jessica Sibley tried her often-successful strategy of creating space with her body near the crease. But a trio of Lindenwood defenders surrounded the junior, preventing her from touching the puck until play was called dead.The only instance in which SU’s net-based strategy worked was with sophomore Stephanie Grossi, who quickly fired a rebound off her own shot from the right faceoff circle. The puck flew into the net before any Lions could crash and deflect it out of the crease.After that goal, Sibley said it was near-impossible to score on Lindenwood’s defense.“They had a lot of people in front of there,” Sibley said. “It’s hard to get shots through. And if you were right in front of the crease, they were all around you. They really packed it in.”In the second period, Flanagan’s offense adjusted by having his defenders shoot more from longer distance. Syracuse’s defenders took 18 shots in the frame, but none found the net.Quinn’s shot from the blue line was deflected by a mass of Lindenwood defenders. A slap shot from Renault resulted in an easy glove save for Lions goalie Nicole Hensley. And one of Larissa Martyniuk’s shots was blocked by Holly Dietzler.But Sibley was able to take advantage of Lindenwood’s tight-knit game plan in the second period. She skated down the center of the ice with Melissa Piacentini on her left. Sibley faked a pass to Piacentini, drawing the entire defense away from her. She then fired a backhanded shot into the top right corner of the net for SU’s second, and final, goal.Other than the two goals, Syracuse had trouble answering to a defensive strategy that has cost it games earlier in the regular season. And as the team heads into a bye week before the conference tournament, Flanagan plans on figuring out a solution to his team’s weakness on offense.“You need to be resourceful and get your hands on it and find that opening,” Flanagan said. “It’s everybody’s hacking and whacking. You don’t want to get in a situation where you’re just trying to jam it. That just gets frustrating.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2016 at 7:49 pm Contact Chris: cfthomse@syr.edulast_img

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