Syracuse faces Robert Morris in weekend series with conference crown at stake

first_imgNine seconds stood between Syracuse and a 2-1 victory over Robert Morris. Even with senior forward Jessica Sibley in the box, it appeared the Orange would kill the penalty and escape that late November night with a victory. Then RMU’s Kirsten Welsh beat SU goalie Abbey Miller for the tie. The game ended that way and the Colonials won, 2-1, the next day.“I think everyone’s pretty disappointed in the last effort when we went and played Robert Morris,” sophomore defender Allie Munroe said.That weekend served as a microcosm of Syracuse’s season through its first 20 games: Right on the cusp, but never enough to push over the edge.The Orange (9-10-5, 8-2-2 College Hockey America) has a chance to break through against the No. 7 Colonials (16-2-6, 9-1-2) this weekend. A sweep of Robert Morris this weekend would vault Syracuse into first place in the CHA standings and move the Orange one step closer to a first-round bye in the conference tournament.“Right now,” junior forward Emily Costales said, “I think it’s the biggest weekend of the season.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe two teams enter the weekend in first and second place in the conference, respectively, with only two points — a win — separating them. A tie and an SU win would leave both teams tied for first and, if the Orange lose one of the two games, it will end up right back where it started: two points behind or worse.“We’re really looking for revenge this weekend,” Munroe said, “but also just focusing on us and focusing on getting first place and those two wins.”The biggest challenge facing SU is slowing down RMU’s Brittany Howard (39 points) and Jaycee Gebhard (33), the two leading scorers in the CHA. Together, the linemates have combined for 72, more than Syracuse’s top four point scorers combined. RMU also has the sixth leading scorer in the conference in Amber Rennie (21 points) and two players tied for ninth, Maggie Lague and Welsh (17 points each).“I think it’s just — obviously keeping an eye on (Gebhard and Howard) — giving them a few extra taps on the knees just to get them kind of angry,” Costales said. “Hopefully draw a few penalties.”The Orange enters the the weekend on a four-game tear. Over the last four games, SU has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 15-2. Syracuse also outshot its opponents by a 142-59 margin.As the Orange heats up at just the right time, Robert Morris has faltered of late, winning only two of its last four and dropping a home game to Lindenwood, a team SU outscored 16-0 on the season.Despite the chance to reach first place, Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan noted the Orange will still have six conference games after playing RMU.“It’s certainly not do or die,” Flanagan said. “It’s not the last weekend of the regular season. Two points behind, home weekend, we’re very excited to have (RMU) come in. Our destiny is in our own hands.”Syracuse’s best chance at table-turning the CHA standings starts on Friday night.“It’s a huge weekend for us,” Munroe said. “We’re on a four-game win streak right now and we’re just trying to focus on Friday, but obviously in the back of our heads we know that first place is on the line. It’s a huge weekend.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Grahamlast_img read more

Football set for crucial Utah tilt

first_img“I would be shocked if he doesn’t have a great game,” Helton said. “He’s had a great week of practice. You can tell his jaw is set. He’s fired up to get back out on the field and prove something.”  “Utah’s linebackers like to come downhill, shoot the gaps to where you know that those double teams that you have are going to be quicker because you’re going to have to hit, get off, get to the linebacker,” McKenzie said. “So what, now what?” has been the Trojans’ mantra both in practice and on the sidelines this season. The saying seems appropriate now more than ever as the team heads into Friday’s game. It will be important for the Trojans’ offensive line to protect Slovis this week, which is something it struggled with against BYU. Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie said the key to getting to the second level and finishing blocks is to acknowledge how different opponents play each week. This week against Utah, Slovis will be up against a better defense that includes All-Pac-12 first team junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson and two-time All-Pac-12 second team senior safety Julian Blackmon. Fans shouldn’t expect to see the Trojans waver from their passing game this week. Harrell said that if he could go back, he would not change any of the calls that he made in Provo, including the final pass play that resulted in a Slovis interception. USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said that, based on Utah’s sharp offense and USC’s poor performance last week against BYU, the Trojans will need to clean up their tackling Friday. Utah may be the Pac-12’s best all-around team. The Utes climbed to No. 10 in the nation while USC fell out of the AP Top 25 this week after its loss to Brigham Young. If Utah wins this game, it would be its first time beating the Trojans in the Coliseum.  Harrell said that Slovis and the entire offense needs to be more detail-oriented. USC Football (2-1) is back home this week to take on No. 10 Utah (3-0) 6 p.m. Friday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.center_img Last week, BYU consistently dropped eight defenders into coverage, effectively shutting down offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s signature Air Raid offense to force the Trojans into their vulnerable run game, but Harrell continued to put the ball in the air.  “That comes down to being disciplined,” he said. USC must also prepare for Utah’s strong run game on the other side of the ball. Senior running back Zack Moss is one of the best in the country and is adept at finding openings between tackles. The Trojan defense will need to contain Moss to keep Utah’s offense at bay. Another challenge for the Trojans will be senior quarterback Tyler Huntley, a dual threat who leads the Utes’ offense with big plays both on the ground and through the air. Huntley has talented options downfield: Sophomore tight end Brant Kuithe is averaging over 20 yards per catch so far this season, while sophomore wide receiver Bryan Thompson is coming off a two-touchdown performance against Idaho State. “I just call what I feel to be honest with you,” said Harrell regarding his approach when deciding whether to keep the ball on the ground. This week’s game could provide some answers as to whether the Stanford victory or the BYU upset represents the true nature of Trojan football this season. Helton said he believes the BYU game was a fluke and that Slovis will be back in his groove Friday night. After a standout debut two weeks ago against Stanford, freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis’ lack of experience showed last week as he threw three interceptions against BYU. The silver lining to those interceptions? It’s clear that Slovis isn’t afraid to pull the trigger, although perhaps he is eager to a fault.  Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis will look to bounce back after a rough game against BYU last week. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) last_img read more