Today's game

May 29, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht

Today's game

NCAA Division I final

No. 1 Syracuse (14-1) vs. No. 3 Princeton (12-2)

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

Time: 10:55 a.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM)

Attack: Syracuse comes at opponents with size, smarts and toughness, starting with arguably the game's premier player in senior Ryan Powell. He sacrifices his body as easily as he fills up the net or makes the well-placed pass. Michael Springer presents a matchup problem with his 6-foot-3 frame and a wicked shot to boot. Liam Banks is the clever, opportunistic scorer around the crease. Princeton's Sean Hartofolis is coming off a career-high, five-goal effort against Virginia, and the Tigers need another big game from him. Matt Striebel is the team's primary feeder who can score if defenses don't pay proper attention to him. Brendan Tierney has been a fine replacement for B.J. Prager.

Midfield: Josh Sims is the heart of the Princeton team, and he was handled pretty easily by Syracuse long-stick middie Joe Ceglia when the teams played last month. The Tigers need a big game from Sims. Matt Bailer, the team's top faceoff man, might not play today after suffering a concussion in the second half of Saturday's win over Virginia. Bailer did not practice yesterday. Someone among freshmen Owen Daly, Josh White and Brad Dumont must emerge with a big game. For Syracuse, Josh Coffman is an excellent passer and scorer who is destined to replace Powell on attack next year. Tim Byrnes and Matt Caione can finish effectively, and Byrnes is outstanding on ground balls.

Defense: It doesn't get any better than Princeton's. Freshman Damien Davis, sophomore Scott Farrell and junior Ryan Mollett form a physical, intelligent front line, and senior long-stick middie Chris Berrier is one of the game's key players who could play a big hand in containing Coffman. Syracuse does not get the credit it deserves at the defensive end, but John Glatzel leads a group that can rough up the most potent attacks, along with Marshall Abrams and Billy St. George. Ceglia will be asked to shut down Sims once again.

Goalkeeper: Syracuse's Rob Mulligan is fast becoming known as one of the game's top goalies, and his second-half performance against Johns Hopkins, in which he recorded eight saves in the fourth quarter, did not hurt that reputation. Princeton cannot afford to let Mulligan get too comfortable early. Syracuse will look to pour the pressure on Princeton's Trevor Tierney, who is one of the more underrated tenders in the game, having allowed just 7.6 goals per outing. His confidence could not be higher right now.

Faceoff: This could be a decisive advanage to the Orangemen, especially if Princeton's Bailer does not play after suffering a concussion on Saturday. The Tigers would have to rely solely on sophomore Kyle Baugher, who would draw the unenviable task of beating Chris Cercy, the best in the game. Cercy was outstanding in the Hopkins victory, and he even scored a career-high two goals.

Key for Princeton: Win enough faceoffs and play enough of its typically tough defense to slow the tempo and keep the scoreboard from creeping far into double digits. The Tigers would also be well-served to play on a wet field, since that would limit the athletic moves of Syracuse's more gifted scoring threats like Josh Coffman and Ryan Powell.

Key for Syracuse: Be patient against a Princeton defenses that demands it. If the Orangemen decide to force passes and shots, they will play into Princeton's hands. Syracuse also needs to limit its trips to the penalty box, because the Tigers have a way of exploiting such opportunities skillfully. Syracuse drew 12 penalties on Saturday.

Pick: Syracuse

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