Syracuse defense preps for another tough task in high-powered Duke

first_imgSyracuse, and more specifically its coaching staff, has lauded its strong zone defense all season. The aggressive backer zone blitzes its opponents, leading to many fouls for the Orange, but it also leads to turnovers and frustration. It’s averaging almost two more caused turnovers than last year and its 8.7 mark ranks in the top 40 nationally.Up against Notre Dame last Sunday, Syracuse faced one of the nation’s best teams after losing three of its previous five. Cortney Fortunato and Rachel Sexton were both top five scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But SU limited the dynamic duo to just one combined goal in the win.SU has a similar challenge coming up this weekend. Duke’s Kyra Harney and Kelci Smesko are also top five scorers in the conference. No. 4 Syracuse’s (9-3, 2-1 ACC) defense will have to once again stop a strong two-headed monster if it hopes to stretch its winning streak to three in Sunday’s game against the No. 13 Blue Devils (8-4, 3-0) in the Carrier Dome at noon.“We haven’t finalized what we’re gonna do yet, but we’ve got some good ideas. It may be a similar concept to what we did against Notre Dame,” head coach Gary Gait said.But Duke presents another dimension that the Fighting Irish didn’t. Namely, it takes care of the ball and capitalizes on its chances. The Blue Devils commit the fewest turnovers out of any of the ACC teams (11.4) while also having the best shooting percentage in the conference (49.1).AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarlier in the season, defender Haley McDonnell said the Orange defense was confident enough to not have to change its strategy or its style of play for any opponent. But if SU commits too many fouls, and subsequently gives up free positions, Duke will capitalize. And an early lead would favor the Blue Devils because then Syracuse would be forced to try and create turnovers.When SU tweaked its defense to take away Fortuanto and Sexton, it came at a price. The Orange forced just six turnovers, its third lowest total of the season. And an Allie Murray save with 15 seconds left also saved SU’s win.Syracuse’s best bet to play tight defense will be to play outstanding offense. That’s what SU did in Tuesday’s win against UConn. After a back-and-forth start, SU scored eight goals in the final 12:17 of the first half when the ball stayed near Connecticut’s goal for most of the run.It’ll be important for the SU offense to capitalize on its scoring opportunities. In a game against a team that makes very few mistakes, SU will have to ensure that it doesn’t miss on its own chances.The Orange has a chance to get rolling after an up-and-down stretch in which it lost three of five. And it’ll have to overcome Duke’s efficient style of play to do so. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 31, 2016 at 12:30 am Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langerlast_img

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