Despite negative temperatures outside, Dylan Donahue was on fire during No. 5 Syracuse’s season opener against visiting Siena.
The Orange opened its 100th season with an 18-5 win and Donahue as the team’s top producer of offense. The All-American boasted four goals and five assists, matching his career high nine points in only the first game of the 2016 season.
“As a fifth-year senior you kind of have to lead out there by example,” said Donahue of his success today. “With the way we play offense, you never know who is going to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Syracuse’s offense seemed to follow suit. The team’s depth proved to be a threat as fourteen players put up points for the Orange, ten of them scoring goals at least once. Tim Barber finished the day with two goals and three assists while Jordan Evans and Sergio Salcido put up two goals a piece. In their debut for the Orange, graduate student Nick Piroli tallied two goals and one assist, freshman Devin Shewell netted two goals, and UMass transfer Nick Mariano added a goal and an assist.
“I think we started off well today, obviously we made some mistakes throughout the day but I was happy with our execution early on in the game,” said Coach John Desko. “Scoring; I thought we did a pretty good job there. Our defense was pretty stingy. I thought there were three or four one-on-one situations where [Siena] could have scored and Warren came up big for us.”
The offense was not the only thing clicking for Syracuse. The Orange defense held Siena scoreless for the first quarter as Warren Hill only allowed two goals during his entire 45 minutes of play between the pipes. Freshman Nick Mellen led the defense with four of the team’s nine caused turnovers and six ground balls in his first run with the Orange. Syracuse had 41 ground balls to Siena’s 23 and zero penalties against. The Orange capitalized on all three of its man-up opportunities from Siena penalties.
“There were definitely a little bit of jitters there but as soon as the game went down and I got that first save it was all smooth riding from there,” said Hill after his first career start. “I was really comfortable and our defense was really helpful.”
“He’s the kind of guy where if you make a mistake, you’re comfortable knowing he’s behind you,” Mellen said of Hill.
Syracuse was also dominant from the faceoff X. Ben Williams secured 12 of 16 faceoffs before Cal Paduda collected another five of eight. The Orange finished the day having won 20 of 27 faceoffs.
Siena was led by Eric Munn’s two goals and Jon-Michael Tokar’s goal and assist. Tyler Pantalone led the Saints with 5 of 15 faceoffs and goalkeeper Tommy Cordts finished the day with 4 saves of 18 shots on goal.
First-game“Jitters” were an underlying theme of today’s matchup. Syracuse turned the ball over 18 times to Siena’s 16.
“The turnovers are not terribly uncommon for this time of year but any coach that looks at it doesn’t want there to be turnovers in a game situation,” said Desko. “We got some teams in the ACC and with the competition coming up.. 18 turnovers isn’t gonna get it done.”
As for the future, Desko wants to see his team in a sped up offense.
“I thought it was okay but I thought it was very slow developing,” said Desko. “We didn’t get too many transition goals but I think that was just because it is the first game.”