Syracuse tries to improve mental focus in weekend series against Robert Morris

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 6, 2014 at 1:42 am Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman During the last series when Syracuse played Robert Morris, head coach Paul Flanagan said he didn’t believe his team showed enough energy against what is now the first-place team in College Hockey of America.The Orange tied the first match 1-1, and lost the second game of the series 2-1. SU was hindered by six penalties in the loss, and was only able to get three shots off in nearly seven and a half minutes on the power play.But since, Syracuse has gone 9-5 with three losses to Top-10 programs — and it’s coming off a 3-0 win against St. Lawrence on Tuesday.“In this sport, and all others, momentum is pretty important,” Flanagan said. “We finished the game playing well, and hopefully we can throw that on the bus with us for Friday’s game.”Flanagan’s team will need to be at its best for all 60 minutes Friday when SU (15-11-2, 6-6-2 CHA) takes to Moon Township, Pa., to play Robert Morris (21-5-2, 10-3-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter the Orange’s win on Tuesday, the head coach emphasized the significance of putting up a strong showing leading up to a showdown with the conference’s best team.If Syracuse is going to turn the final score in its favor, it will be a matter of making and executing adjustments.“It’s going to be important to us to be able to win the battles on the boards,” said junior forward Julie Knerr.The Orange offense will be tasked with trying to get the puck past Jessica Dodds, one of the conference’s stingiest goalies. Dodds leads the conference in wins with 18, and her goals-against average of 1.56 is tops by almost half of a goal.Coupled with an unyielding defense that allows the fewest amount of goals per game in the conference, the Colonials feature a robust offense led by junior forward Rebecca Vint. Vint leads the conference in goals and has helped her offense average exactly three goals per game in conference, besting Syracuse’s 2.57 goals per game.The Orange knows it’ll be going up against one of the best teams it will see this season, and it won’t bend on any facet of its game.“Our main focus has to be to put as much effort on defense as offense,” junior forward Allie LaCombe said. “Because it’s just as important, if not more important to protect your goalie than always trying to score goals.”Not to be entirely outdone, Syracuse goalie Jenesica Drinkwater slots behind Dodds for the second best goals-against average per game in the conference, with a mark of 1.93. Drinkwater also has allowed the second-lowest number of goals, right behind injured SU goalie Kallie Billadeau. Even as the last line of defense for the SU defense, she said responsibility must be delegated to everyone across the ice.“Our defense has to be able to block shots before the puck gets to me,” Drinkwater said.And that goes back into the effort Flanagan said his team lacked in SU’s first two games against Robert Morris. The Orange will look to continue its improved play — keyed in part by sophomore forward Melissa Piacentini’s program-record nine-game point streak — this weekend.“We’re in the most important part of the season,” Piacentini said. “All that really matters at this point is winning.” Commentslast_img read more