Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 10-7 win over North Carolina in ACC semifinals

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm Contact Connor: | @connorgrossman In its third-ever trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, No. 4 seed Syracuse (9-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) beat top-seeded North Carolina (8-6, 3-1), 10-7, to advance to the conference championship game once again, for the third straight time.The Orange buckled down to beat the Tar Heels for the second time in as many weeks, holding an offense that averages 13.3 goals to just seven tallies.“That was my biggest fear,” head coach John Desko said. “Having to play somebody that we had just beaten.”But SU stuck to its’ blueprint, and it worked again. Here are three takeaways from the Orange’s semifinal win.Bottled upAdvertisementThis is placeholder textEvan Molloy had a career-best game against North Carolina two weeks ago in the Carrier Dome, snatching nine saves and allowing only two first-half goals. He one-upped himself on Friday, notching a career-high 14 saves and shutting out the Tar Heels, the sixth-highest scoring offense in the country, in both the first and third quarters.“It’s great that our defense is playing so well,” Molloy said. “They always rise to the occasion in those big games that I’ve been playing in. They’re giving me shots that I can save.”He held one of the country’s top offenses at bay again, and is as responsible as anyone for holding premier scorers Luke Goldstock and Steve Pontrello to a combined three goals. Pontrello, UNC’s leading scorer, was stopped by Molloy on a last-ditch effort at the end of the first half and again amid a third-quarter charge that Molloy smothered for his 10th save.Aside from a three-goal blitz in a short span during the second quarter, Molloy orchestrated an SU defense that slid seamlessly at times. It’s an attribute of Molloy that Syracuse coaches haven’t been shy about pointing out. But the Orange defenders did bail out their goalie multiple times by swatting loose balls away after the veteran goalie got the initial save.Said Molloy: “We’re just playing great as a unit. My game is nothing without them.”Spreading the loveSeven different players scored for the Orange, with two-goal games coming from Jordan Evans, Derek DeJoe and Nate Solomon.An Alpharetta, Georgia native, Solomon scored his first at the end of the opening quarter by diving toward the crease with 54 seconds left and dropping one past Brian Balkam. He capitalized again in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and stutter-stepped along the crease to stretch Syracuse’s lead out to 9-4.“It felt really good to get out there again,” Soloman said. “…I’m just used to the air. I like the Georgia air.”DeJoe emerged as an early-season go-to option on the SU offense, but has been largely silent since scoring three times against Virginia on March 4. He fired in a bounce shot on a feed from Sergio Salcido, then slung a low shot past Balkam, who was vulnerable all evening below his waist.Slow and steadyDesko knew on Wednesday that his team would have to adjust to the heat of Kennesaw, Georgia. Playing in temperatures upward of 85 degrees on Friday evening, SU countered the elements with a more deliberate style of offense than a more typical “run and gun” style it likes to debut.The Orange scored only three times in the opening quarter and shut out the Tar Heels as referees twice activated the shot clock while SU had the ball. The game’s first goal even came after a waiting period, as Jordan Evans stood still behind North Carolina’s crease for about seven seconds before jetting around the left side and putting Syracuse up 1-0.Desko sent out his third-line midfield with six minutes left in the opening stanza, and the trio lobbed passes to one another outside UNC’s perimeter. The plan worked as the group gobbled time off the clock to give the first- and second-line units rest, and Pat Carlin even got an open shot opportunity that he clanked off the cross bar.Fatigue didn’t visibly bog down the Orange, and the change in strategy was discernible. Commentslast_img