The No. 1 overall seed, Syracuse, will once again have its hands full with a formidable opponent. Yale beat Princeton, 12-8, in the Ivy League Conference championship and earned the automatic qualifier into the big show. Yale is not a finesse team; it will scrap and claw and in the case against Penn State, never gave up when it found itself down early.
The tape told two different stories for Yale as the team saved its best performance for the second half versus Penn State.
The offense: Faceoff speacialist, Dylan Levings, had its struggles in the beginning of the first quarter, recording three consecutive procedure faults in a row that resulted in a 30 second technical penalty. The rationale behind the rule, as stressed by the lacrosse committee, is to accurately penalize a team that repeatedly violates the faceoff procedure before the whistle. The intent is to have more faceoffs decided by the players and fewer by the whistle.
The junior was outdueled in the first half by Penn State's specialist and went into halftime 0-for-7.
Don't let this mediocre performance fool you, though, the junior went 30-for-40 in the Ive League Conference tournament, good for 75 percent. Like Bryant's Kevin Massa, Levings takes all the of the team's faceoffs, too. He erased the first two quarters of play and executed slightly better, going 7-for-20. An apparent off day for the junior.
Syracuse tried its hand with three people against Massa in Sunday night's contest and went 1-for-23. Chris Daddio (0-for-9), Cal Paduda (0-for-1) and Matt Harris (1-for-12) were just the latest victims to fall to the sophomore's superior strength at X.
Levings' technique is pretty simple (easier said than done). He uses his strength to almost pop the ball out slightly, primarily out to his left, for a quick ground ball. He is by no means a Kevin Massa.
In the first quarter, attackman Brandon Mangan was nearly invisible in Yale's offense. In order for the Bulldogs to be successful, the team will need to get the ball in the junior's stick. Mangan has 36 goals and 25 assists. He works from the left side of the goal and isn't afraid to come out and work from goal line extended. Syracuse senior defenseman, Brian Megill, will probably get the coveted matchup.
The attack will also set mini screens behind cage to create its offense and, if the defense extends too far, the Bulldogs will take advantage with the space inside.
Shooting as a whole, Yale was putting good shots on cage, however, Penn State's goalie, Austin Kaut, was nearly unstoppable in the first half. The Bulldogs emerged from intermission with the same shooting mentality. It's high percentage shots finally found the back of the net and the team made the point to move Kaut.
Defense: The Yale defense plays a combination of defensive schemes including a sag man-to-man, high pressure as well as a semi-zone. In the early stages of the first quarter, the Bulldogs packed it in and let the Nittany Lions pass freely from the top. The defense changed, however,after halftime when Yale had a bigger sense of urgency to score.
In the third quarter specifically, the Bulldogs extended its pressure defense and crashed the cage when shots were fired. The scheme allowed the team to be there for easy ground balls and deflections.
The defense as a whole, I believe, doesn't look too much into matchups. The Bulldogs will switch if need be and rely heavily on its communication to get through the screens. Defense will also slide aggressively to help.
Keep an eye out for defender Michael McCormack. He will more than likely matchup on Syracuse's Jojo Marasco. He scooped up eight ground balls and caused three turnovers in last weekend's game. The senior is the lone captain for the team. That alone speaks volumes of his leadership capabilities.
Lacrosse Notebook: Scouting Yale
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