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Syracuse’s starting goalie Bobby Gavin had the ball in his stick in the first quarter against Army while SU was trying to successfully clear. But two Army players remained in the way, and when he tried to dish a pass to his right toward an SU defender, the Black Knights’ star attack Brendan Nichtern jumped in the way.
Syracuse has had a problem stopping Nichtern in the past. The senior attack scored seven points during the last matchup between the two teams, and he notched four goals the year prior. On Wednesday, Nichtern finished with six points (four goals and two assists) but this particular first-quarter chance was far easier than the others.
The moment Nichtern forced the turnover against Gavin, he knew he had an empty net. Gavin was way out of position, vacating the cage. The mistake led to an easy Nichtern goal, putting No. 12 Army up 4-1 and marking the fourth of its five-goal unanswered run in the first quarter.
Gavin, who transferred from Virginia before this season, headed to the sideline near the end of the first period and was replaced by backup Harrison Thompson. Through SU’s first three games this season, Gavin played all 60 minutes against No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 Virginia. Thompson and Gavin split time against unranked Holy Cross, with Gavin starting and finishing the first half, and Thompson playing most of the second half.
Head coach Gary Gait said SU made a change because Gavin wasn’t performing at the same level as he had been in previous games. He reiterated that SU has “a good goalie crew” and Thompson proved that on Wednesday.
“We felt comfortable making a change, and we did it because we thought Bobby wasn’t seeing the ball like he was in the past games in the early quarter,” Gait said afterward. “Why not mix it up when you have another very good goalie ready to go?”
No. 14 Syracuse went on to lose 17-13, failing to score a goal in the fourth quarter. Thompson allowed 12 goals and made eight saves in 45 minutes on the field, compared to Gavin’s five allowed goals and three saves in 15 minutes. The Orange had definitively stuck with Gavin in big moments — against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country — but Wednesday’s change-up resurfaces questions about what Gait and the SU staff will do at the goalie position moving forward.
“Bobby’s a great goalie, lots of great competition between the both of us,” Thompson said after the loss. “Maybe he didn’t see the ball well. I just went out there and did what I do. I was just prepared.”
With Thompson in during the second quarter, he immediately made a save against Gunner Philipp when his long-stick midfielder, Max Rosa, tripped over the cage on the play. Thompson made a nice pass to Tucker Dordevic across the midway line for a clearance.
He got two more second-quarter saves against Philipp, the final one of which came from point-blank range when the Army midfielder shot from right outside the crease. Thompson had one against Nichtern too.
By the end of the half, Thompson and the SU defense had settled into the game and started to limit their turnovers and failed clears.
He made an excellent fourth-quarter save against Reece Burek, but the ball came crashing off his stick with the rebound landing in the lap of another Army player. Danny Kielbasa corralled the ball and fired home the second-chance goal.
Before Thompson came in, Gavin had a ball thrown over his head by defenseman Nick Caccamo that led to a turnover. He was beaten on a shot from Bo Waters that skipped off the turf and into the net to make it 3-1, a side-arm shot from Burek to make it 5-1, as well as three close-range Nichtern goals. Gavin only recorded three saves — against Jacob Morin, James Pryor and Burek.
Gait said after the Holy Cross game that both goalies played outstanding, and the addition of Gavin gives the team depth. He said Thompson was outstanding in the fall, but Gavin came in and made it tough. “They’re both outstanding. They give us depth,” Gait said. At the time, he said the staff would discuss what direction they wanted to go in for Maryland, and they chose Gavin.
Now, with the short-leash that the Orange’s staff placed on Gavin and prompted them to pull him in the first quarter, the coaches might be going back to the drawing board regarding Syracuse’s starting goalie.
The post No. 14 Syracuse’s goalie change not enough in 17-13 loss to No. 12 Army appeared first on The Daily Orange.