Orange struggles to contain Mercyhurst’s direct, physical attack in weekend losses

first_imgLast week, Paul Flanagan described Mercyhurst as a tough team that likes to drive to the net hard and is willing to pay the price in small areas.This weekend, he was right.“They came out like gangbusters,” the Syracuse head coach said after Saturday’s game. “They really meant business and we got of sync defensively. Our compete level just wasn’t prepared for what they threw at us.”Protecting the net against Mercyhurst’s physical offense in the opening period was an issue for the Orange in both games. The Lakers outscored SU 4-0, with nearly all goals coming in front of the net, and Syracuse lacked a physical, defensive presence in front of junior goaltender Kallie Billadeau.“Defensively, it was kind of a mess,” Billadeau said. “I think in the first period, we struggled picking up girls in front and we were just running around a lot.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFriday night, Mercyhurst’s Kelsey Welch scored 56 seconds into the game. On Saturday night, the Lakers struck first again on a Vaila Higson slapshot from the top right circle 6:49 into the opening period.Mercyhurst continued its relentless forecheck after Higson’s goal when the Lakers capitalized off of a Jacquie Greco turnover and got a goal off of a scramble in front of the net.“That is kind of their M.O. and that’s how they play,” said Billadeau. “They get pucks to the net and then there is usually two or three girls just hacking away.”Whether it was leftover emotion from Friday’s 5-3 deflating loss, in which the Orange held a 3-2 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the third, or just a lack of focus, Syracuse had no answers for the Lakers early on.While SU escaped the first period only down 1-0 on Friday, the Orange was less lucky Saturday. Mercyhust completely dominated play, outshooting Syracuse 17-10 and ultimately outscoring the Orange 3-0.“We knew it was going to be a hard game, so I don’t know why we didn’t come out right away playing our best hockey,” Greco said after Saturday’s loss. “(Friday) we allowed one goal and today we allowed three, being all they needed. If we don’t play a whole 60 minutes, that is what’s going to happen.”Syracuse also took three penalties in the first period Saturday, not helping the cause. One penalty was tripping, the second was holding and the third was slashing. All three calls were a product of the Orange’s inability to stay with the Lakers in the defensive zone.Syracuse struggled numerous times to get the puck out of its end, and Mercyhurst was the first to nearly every loose puck in the first. Senior forward Holly Carrie-Mattimoe attributed it to the team being a little too flat.With a chance to rebound against Mercyhurst, it proved costly.“Mercyhurst is not going to let us have one against them,” said Carrie-Mattimoe. “We have to come prepared for 60 minutes next time.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 18, 2013 at 1:26 am Contact Bryan: bwrubin@syr.edulast_img

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