Offensive struggles have doomed Syracuse over last 8 games

first_img Published on October 16, 2017 at 11:12 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+ Nineteen seconds into Syracuse’s game against Akron, Mamadou Balde intercepted the ball and hit a chip shot through ball to a streaking Tajon Buchanan. The ball bounced on the ground and Buchanan took a few steps before one-timing the ball off the post. The aggressive play didn’t work, but Syracuse attacked early and often.Syracuse’s aggressive offense has the ability to dictate play and control possession. It’s been done before and will occur at some point in SU’s next game, Wednesday at Ohio State. But that aggressiveness has only led to possession. Scoring the ball has come sparingly.For a team that lost 64 percent of its offensive production from last year, Syracuse (5-7-2, 0-5-1 Atlantic Coast) has struggled to jump out to early leads this season. Early in games, individual mistakes have translated to opposing goals. Battling back from a one- or two-goal deficit has proven to be too much, as the Orange has dropped seven of its last eight games. In that stretch, SU has been outscored by five goals and has only one multi-goal game — a 2-0 win over Colgate.“Not enough quality in the final third,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said of his team’s finishing. “That’s something we’ll continue to work on.”Three of the Orange’s top four scorers from a season ago are gone. Forward Kenny Lassiter, who was expected to see an increased role, transferred to La Salle. That led to McIntyre having to resort to using younger players right away.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe team’s main forward, freshman Tajon Buchanan, has just two goals on 24 shots and hasn’t found the back of the net since the fourth game of the season. His backup, freshman Petter Stangeland, has scored just once, in the second game of the year.Because of their struggles, the strikers come out at least once a week 15-20 minutes before practice to work on finishing with associate head coach Jukka Masalin. Simple drills like finishing on one-touch, two-touches and on crosses are included. The two forwards also work on communication and movement together, trying to find what works.“I don’t think we’re clinical enough,” sophomore captain Mo Adams said. “… We outshoot teams most of the time, but again, you’re looking for one goal.”Most of the scoring has come from midfielder Jonathan Hagman and reserve forward Johannes Pieles, who’ve scored five and four goals, respectively, almost 50 percent of the Orange’s production. Pieles has been productive as of late, scoring in three of past five games, but Hagman hasn’t scored since Sept. 22.Hagman had a wide open shot that struck post on what would’ve been a game winner against Cornell, a game SU dropped in overtime. In the team’s last two home games, the Orange have shot on net within the first four minutes. Both times the attack was stopped short.The first was Buchanan’s wide-open post shot against Akron. The volley was off his weak foot, but he couldn’t put the ball away.The next game, three days later, John-Austin Ricks sent a similar deep ball to Buchanan. He beat two defenders before crossing to Hugo Delhommelle. He had a quick touch shot but a diving save from North Carolina State’s Leon Krapf neutralized the early opportunity.In both games, the opposition scored later that half. Despite outshooting its opponents, Syracuse couldn’t capitalize on its few opportunities and lost both games.“Sometimes when you miss a good chance early on, it has a psychological effect on you,” Adams said. “But like the best strikers do, when you get a chance, you make sure you put it away.”Syracuse’s production has seen a big decrease since 2016, when the Orange made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. On a per game basis, SU has scored only 1.43 goals to 1.65 the year prior. The Orange ranks 63rd in the nation in goals with 20, a mark it only took nine games to eclipse last season.But while overall production is down, the Orange is creating more shots and accuracy has increased from last year. SU takes 3.3 more shots per game and shoot on goal 6.4 more percent of the time.Despite the increase in offensive chances, the Orange has largely been unable to find any success in the final third. Adams has said multiple times that giving up two goals in ACC play guarantees a loss.“That’s the beauty of this game,” Hagman said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, then it sucks. But when it works, it’s fantastic.” Commentslast_img read more