Men's Lacrosse

Syracuse men’s lacrosse opponent preview: What to know about St. John’s

/ The Daily Orange

Syracuse can improve to 4-1 with a victory against St. John's on Saturday.

No. 6 Syracuse (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) travels to Queens, New York, looking for its second win in as many weeks on Saturday at 1 p.m. against old Big East foe St. John’s (1-4). The last time SU took the field, midfielder Sergio Salcido capped another furious second-half comeback, scoring a game-winner with 15 seconds to go to upend then-No. 9 Virginia.

Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.

All-time series: Syracuse leads, 10-0

Last time they played: On March 12, 2016, Syracuse scored six goals before St. John’s got on the board and then put up seven of the next eight. Syracuse won every facet of the game in goals (15-4), shots (54-15), shots on goal (29-8), turnovers (8-19), ground balls (37-19), faceoffs (18-4) and extra man opportunities (1-3, 0-4). Dylan Donahue, Jordan Evans and Nick Mariano all had four points. It was Syracuse’s last win before its three-game slide that had Orange fans panicking midway through last season.

The St. John’s report: Of 69 NCAA teams, St. John’s has the 63rd-ranked scoring offense (7.4 goals per game) and the 54th ranked defense (13 goals allowed per game).

The struggles are attributable to inexperience as the Red Storm start four freshmen, plus a first-time starter in goal. Two of the freshmen, twins Joe and Mike Madsen, carry the offensive load. Starting midfielder Nick Heller is a name to watch as his six points are tied for second on SJU while his 26 shots lead the team by 10.

At the X, junior Justin Corpolongo wins 53.5 percent (38-71) in his third season as the Red Storm’s faceoff go-to. He won 8-of-31 in his first two meetings with the Orange.

On the defensive end, senior Dante Addona buffers two freshmen, Tim Kiel and Pat Smyth, in a unit that has struggled this season. The defense appears to initially be a stronghold and has allowed only eight goals in the first quarter this season. But then teams seem to figure them out as the defense has allowed 44 goals between the second and third. The trio of Addona, Kiel and Smyth account for just 36 percent of the team’s caused turnovers and 10 percent of its ground balls.

In goal, junior Daniel Costa became the man this season after transferring from Fairfield. He has allowed 63 goals and made 63 saves this season for a .500 save percentage.

“Half the guys out there, this is their first time out there,” head coach Jason Miller said. “We expect some growing pains.”

How St. John’s beats Syracuse: It’ll take a lot for a young Red Storm team to walk away victorious. The last three years, SU has won by an average of eight goals. St. John’s will need Syracuse’s trend of poor first halves to continue and score big themselves — 24 of its 37 goals this season have come in the first half — and then hold on in the second.

“We get off to fast starts,” Miller said, “but we haven’t competed and managed the time of game well. … We’ve had a tough time playing 60 minutes. We’re very much a work in progress. Youth is the biggest thing.”

The Madsen twins need to have career days against Syracuse’s still-settling defensive line and the defense will have to post superlative performances to give SJU a shot. But with St. John’s struggles at home, inexperience on the field and inability to hang onto leads this season, it appears Syracuse will simply be too much.

Numbers to know:

6 — Syracuse’s slimmest margin of victory in the last three years is six goals

2 — Since the start of the 2015-16 season, St. John’s has won two of its nine home games

27 — Excluding players named Madsen, the Red Storm has scored 27 goals in five games (5.4 per game).

Player(s) to watch: The Madsen twins, Joe (No. 33) and Mike (No. 11)

The freshmen duo is the only engine in the Red Storm’s tepid offense. The attackmen both have five goals on 16 shots. Joe, 5-foot-7, 140 pounds and quick, leads the team in points (9) and turnovers (11). Mike, 5-foot-8, 145 pounds and also quick, only has four turnovers.

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