Tale of the tape: Bryant vs. Syracuse

Despite an early deficit to start the first quarter, the Syracuse men's lacrosse team (14-3) regrouped and found its strength in its defense in the 12-7 win against Bryant (8-11) Sunday evening at the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. CuseNation.com took a look at the tape and provides its takeaways inside.

Zoning in: Bryant head coach Mike Pressler decided to go with the zone against Syracuse with a smattering of man-to-man. The defensive game plan for the Bulldogs was simple: pack the middle and take away the Orange's off-ball threats. While Bryant was in a zone, Syracuse was busy sending Derek Maltz, Luke Cometti and Scott Loy to the sweet spot of it -- the middle -- to try and get something going between them and the team's best feeder, Jojo Marasco.

If the Bulldogs could neutralize one aspect of the Orange's game then maybe, just maybe, the team would have a shot a major lacrosse upset. That wasn't the case, though, as the Orange figured out the zone and had its way in the end.

A myth about the zone: Believe it or not, you can beat a zone in lacrosse by dodging. Many lacrosse aficionados try and emphasize that. Much like basketball, the zone can be beat by ball movement, penetration and kicking to the open man. The same can be said for lacrosse, except the term, dodging, now becomes part of the equation.

Jojo Marasco: Given the senior's dodging ability and field vision, it was a surprise that the senior didn't take more chances in creating and dishing. Head coach John Desko gives the midfielder praise about his decision making, so why not capitalize on that? His stat line, particularly in this game, is not indicative to what he has been doing all season. Look for him to get more aggressive against Yale.

Defense as a whole: Patience was the name of the game for this Syracuse defense. With the success of Bryant's Kevin Massa on the X, Syracuse found itself on defense for an extended amount of time.

The Northeast Conference Player of the Year, registered all but one faceoff, going 22-for-23. The sophomore set a single-season record for ground balls (231) and faceoff wins (315) and dominated the Orange on that end.

At one point in the game, Syracuse waved the white flag on the X and relied on the likes of Brian Megill, David Hamlin, Sean Young and its short-sticks to stave off the Bulldogs on offense.

When the defense did buckle down, stayed disciplined and started creating turnovers, the offense, in return, did its job in taking care of the ball and valuing each possession. The team was cognizant of just how much defense it was playing.

A player to keep an eye on: Henry Schoonmaker

The junior didn't register a point in Syracuse's win against Bryant, but that didn't stop him from contributing in other categories like ground balls (two) and caused turnovers (two). He is a well-rounded player who works on both ends of the field. There were a couple times where he got out in the passing lanes and disrupted the Bryant offense.

Additional note: The underdogs made a statement.

The tight-knit lacrosse community took notice on Saturday and Sunday when Detroit and Bryant took to the field against the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Both teams competed against some of the top lacrosse talent in the country with nothing to lose. The Titans and Bulldogs fought tooth and nail with teams ranked in the Top 5 and didn't give a rip about its pedigree or stature.

If it wasn't for the fourth quarter collapse by Detroit, Notre Dame would be ousted in the first round of the tournament and be forever intertwined in one of the biggest lacrosse upsets in tournament history. As far as Bryant goes, the team came out firing, scoring the game's first four goals and looked to be in control until the Orange flexed its muscle.

The Titans and Bulldogs put smaller Division I schools on the map in terms of the sport. The game is evolving and parity is evident as ever. Lacrosse enthusiasts, when was the last time you didn't see Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Virginia not partaking in postseason play? The answer is never. There is a first for everything.

Top-tier players are no longer found along just the East Coast. Instead, they reside in Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Georgia and Florida. The Midwest and South are now looked at as hotbeds. Take a look at Denver's roster; roughly 16 states are represented, including Canada and Washington, D.C. -- the epitome of a lacrosse melting pot.

Welcoming two, below average teams to the tournament is a good thing. It means the game is growing.

Cuse Nation Top Stories