MLAX : SU feels pressure with NCAA tournament bid at stake against St. John’s in conference final

first_img Published on May 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Comments VILLANOVA, Pa. – The weight is still heavy on the Syracuse players’ shoulders. A win over Villanova in the Big East tournament semifinals was only the first step toward reaching the NCAA tournament.Ricky Buhr expressed the desperation for his team, knowing its season is down to one game against St. John’s on Saturday. Win and SU earns an automatic bid to the tournament. Lose and the season ends with the proud program on the outside looking in for the first since 2007.But head coach John Desko was quick to step in with a different message.‘We haven’t approached it that way,’ Desko said after his team’s 15-6 victory over Villlanova on Thursday. ‘We’ve approached it as a great opportunity this week to come out and hopefully have two lacrosse games under our belt in the Big East tournament.’Third-seeded Syracuse (8-7) now has just one game left to play in the Big East tournament, when it faces No. 4 seed St. John’s (8-6) in the championship at noon on Saturday. The Red Storm upset top-seeded Notre Dame 8-7 in the first game on Thursday to set up a surprising final matchup with the Orange. SU defeated St. John’s 9-8 when the teams met on March 10 during the regular season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNearly two months later, both entered the postseason with slim chances to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. But after Thursday, the winner of the championship game will lock up a spot in the field.For Syracuse, a win would erase a disappointing regular season in which the Orange finished 7-7 and struggled in every facet of the game. And while Desko tried to diffuse the pressure surrounding his team heading into the postseason, SU midfielder Bobby Eilers called Syracuse’s position ‘do-or-die.’After practice Friday, close defender Brian Megill said Syracuse can only focus on its game against St. John’s.‘We’re only guaranteed 60 minutes of lacrosse for the rest of the season,’ Megill said. ‘There’s no more, no less when that first faceoff starts so we’re coming out, we’re leaving it all on the field and we’re having no regrets.’Desko said he anticipates a competitive game with a Red Storm team enjoying its most successful season in program history. St. John’s is confident coming off its upset of Notre Dame, in which goaltender Jeff Lowman made 13 saves and the Red Storm offense overcame a 4-of-18 faceoff performance to outplay the Fighting Irish.SJU employed a similar formula combining stellar goaltending with efficiency on offense to take the Orange to the wire in a back-and-forth game in March.But Desko also expects to see a different team on Saturday.‘We got to be ready, we got to know who they are, we got to know who their personnel are because it has been a long time since they played them,’ Desko said.Syracuse got a glimpse of the Red Storm as they put the finishing touches on their upset win over Notre Dame on Thursday.Waiting beyond the end zone, the Orange looked on as they waited to take the field for the second game of the day. The SU players saw St. John’s hold off Notre Dame in a frantic finish for a one-goal victory before jogging onto the field as the Red Storm celebrated and the Irish players consoled one another.Heading into Saturday, the scene represented a golden opportunity for Syracuse.The Orange lost to Notre Dame, the No. 2 team in the nation, last weekend, but the Red Storm’s upset changed the entire conference tournament, opening up a chance for a team to sneak into the NCAA tournament.Goaltender Bobby Wardwell said SU doesn’t see the Red Storm as any less of a challenge.‘I think we all know that St. John’s is a great team and they’ve done a lot this season so far,’ Wardwell said Friday. ‘We had a one-goal game with them at the beginning of the season, so now we just have to come out and be ready for battle.’For Desko, the opportunity to fight for an NCAA tournament bid is all his team wanted coming into the weekend. But for his players, the success of their season depends on them seizing that opportunity.Syracuse knows its season comes down to one game on Saturday. And it’s not ready to breathe a sigh of relief yet.‘There’s definitely no weight off our shoulders yet. We’re still stuck in the woods and we just need to get out in order to make the playoffs,’ Buhr said. ‘Hopefully we’ll come out on top and then it’s a new season.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *