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No. 1 Syracuse man-up unit having its best season in the last 36 years

first_img Published on April 17, 2017 at 10:48 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 To win its third overtime game this year, No. 1 Syracuse took all of 30 seconds into its man-up to get its fifth game-winner of the season. A North Carolina penalty gave Syracuse the man-up opportunity and the best unit in the country delivered.The Orange’s lethal man-up gained traction two months ago and has taken off over the last three games. SU’s most recent goal came on the extra-man, a Sergio Salcido rifle in overtime to cap off a 7-1 run and edge then-No. 17 North Carolina, 12-11. It marked Salcido’s 14th point on the man-up — he’s far and away Syracuse’s leading man-up threat — and clinched the regular-season conference title for No. 1 Syracuse.After a 2-for-3 showing at UNC, Syracuse (10-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) has the country’s highest man-up conversation rate (56.3 percent). It’s the highest percentage in team history, dating back to 1981 when SU’s oldest man-up statistics are available, ousting the 51.8 percent man-up attack from 1989 — Gary Gait’s junior season and a national championship year for SU.“It’s scary,” said junior midfielder Brendan Bomberry, who has three man-up goals this season. “Any one of us can put the ball in at any given time. We force the defense to really think about who they want to overplay. Whomever they pick, another guy’s going to score.”Emma Comtois | Design EditorAdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe spread-the-wealth operation begins with no one in particular. SU has scored at least once on the man-up in all but one game (a win over St. Johns on March 11) and in its last three games has scored eight man-up goals. Six different SU players have scored on the man-up. (The Orange also has two goals man-down.)Bomberry, who led the country in man-up goals last year at Denver with 11, looms at the front door, where his stealth belies his sizes and strength. He works in tandem with scoring machine Nick Mariano (five man-up goals), Salcido (four), facilitator Jordan Evans (three) and man-up specialist Brad Voigt (two).Salcido has 10 of his team-high 28 assists on the man-up and Mariano has five of his team-high 28 goals when up a man.All six players on the unit understand one another well, where to space out and when to make the extra pass. And generally, they have a sense of when to pass the ball around and when to initiate. Whichever of the offense’s four man-up sets is chosen, Salcido said, Syracuse assembles into a formation that can leave even top defenses perplexed.“The EMO (extra-man offense) is not about putting the six best offensive players on the field,” ESPN lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon said. “It’s about putting the best six players who work the best together and fit what you’re trying to do.”Syracuse typically spends the last 30 minutes of practice working the man-up, under the tutelage of Xs and Os guru Kevin Donahue. SU head coach John Desko has hardly altered the personnel of the group, reserving it mainly for Mariano, Evans, Voigt, Evans, Bomberry and Matt Lane. Four days after scoring on Notre Dame’s highly ranked defense, SU went a perfect 5-for-5 in a rout of Hobart.Andy Mendes | Design EditorVoigt recalled a play against the Statesmen when Salcido looked his way but didn’t see him open. He looked again. Still, Voigt was smothered. Salcido turned and tossed it backside to Mariano, who caught it and scored one of his four goals in the game with plenty of time on the clock. Syracuse’s offense is not particularly fast-paced, but there’s that sort of sense of urgency in the man-up.“It’s not like, let’s go out there, slow it down, get it around a couple of times,” Voigt said. “It’s like, let’s go out there, do our play and get it over with.”In practice, the group works against a variety of defenses. One time, a player will overplay one guy. Another time, he’ll sink closer to the cage. North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi said SU’s man-up guys aren’t bounded by dodging and shooting, especially as the clock winds down. They share the ball so well, he said, that defenses such as North Carolina can’t study film, then decide which players they will try to lock off.Last weekend, for example, Salcido’s man camped out near the cage to act as help defense for Mariano and Bomberry. By the time Salcido caught the ball from distance, backside, he had space to wind up and shoot. His man couldn’t recover.“The defense has to react just as fast and they don’t know what we’re going to throw at them,” Salcido said. “It’s like a curveball.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more