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Syracuse’s penalty trouble started in the second period when attack Owen Seebold was called for a one-minute slashing penalty on the ride. Before Seebold was released from the penalty box, SU’s Landon Clary added a 30-second interference penalty, giving the Seawolves a 6-on-4 opportunity.
But Syracuse’s defense held strong. It killed the two man-up chance for Stony Brook, and though it committed a season-high eight penalties and spent a season-high six and a half minutes in the penalty box, the Orange continued to halt the Seawolves’ offense.
“That was hands down our best man-down performance,” defender Nick Caccamo said. “We were all just moving as one. The biggest thing was smooth movement, smooth rotations, and that was the difference-maker today.”
Before the game, SU ranked 65th of 72 teams nationally in man-down defensive percentage, allowing a 47.8% success rate. But Saturday, SU held Stony Brook to 2-of-7 on man-down opportunities (the second of which came late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided, too).
And on the other end, the Orange’s offense went 2-of-4 on man-up chances. Both goals against Stony Brook came amid an 8-0 second-half run. Before that point, neither team led by more than a goal in the first half, but the Orange broke the game open and ran away with it in the third quarter.
In the end, it was an overall solid performance on offense and defense that translated directly to success on the man-up offense and man-down defense. Saturday afternoon, Syracuse (3-4, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) avoided back-to-back nonconference losses and climbed back toward .500 with a 14-9 win over unranked Stony Brook (5-3, 1-0 America East).
“It was just a combination of us being on our game and us feeling really comfortable with each other, and I think it carried over into man-down,” Caccamo said.
On the two man-up chance for Stony Brook, goalie Bobby Gavin made a save, and SU’s defense forced the Seawolves into a tight-angle shot later in the opportunity. Syracuse returned to full strength.
But less than two minutes later, Brett Kennedy decked Dylan Pallonetti and was called for an illegal body check. Stony Brook called timeout and set up a man-up opportunity that worked this time around.
Kennedy redeemed himself midway through the second period when faceoff specialist Jakob Phaup committed his third faceoff violation of the half, resulting in a 30-second penalty and another man-up chance for Stony Brook. Right after the man-up began, Kennedy forced a turnover on Mike McCannell, picked up the ground ball and charged over the midway line to get SU clear.
“We just didn’t execute it well; those guys were flying around,” Stony Brook coach Anthony Gilardi said. “We had some good looks that we didn’t take advantage of, but they did a great job of staying kind of out of the shot, then going to the shot as the man-up play went.”
The Seawolves had a 30-second man-up opportunity moments into the second half but fired a shot wide of Gavin and the SU net. “We were prepared for that — they just did more to make those plays,” Gilardi said of the SU’s man-down defense.
That’s when Syracuse started to capitalize on its man-up chances. SU’s first man-up chance, which came in the third quarter, ended quickly with a Tucker Dordevic turnover. But minutes later, Dordevic helped increase SU’s cushion via a man-up chance.
After receiving a pass from Brendan Curry, he found himself with no defender near him. He set his feet and unloaded a step-down, side-arm shot that rippled the back of the net.
Then less than a minute later, SU earned another man-up opportunity and Dordevic did the same thing. This time, a 30-second interference penalty on Chris Merle created the chance. Dordevic caught a pass from Pete Fiorini, once again set his feet, and fired another step-down shot to stretch SU’s lead to 9-6.
SU didn’t score on its fourth-quarter man-up chance, but by then, the game was all but decided. Its strong defensive outing, despite giving up a lot of penalties, helped SU pull out a comfortable victory.
“It was a good day,” head coach Gary Gait said. “We had a couple saves, a couple turnovers, and we were able to keep them out of getting rhythm on man-up — and they did have a lot of opportunities. In the second half, it was great.”
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