Syracuse offense primed to compete with Mercyhurst in semifinals

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ This year’s seniors have had their season ended by the same team in each of the last three years. That team is Syracuse’s opponent once again in an upcoming win-or-go-home contest, but the Orange’s offense is more primed than ever to pull off the upset.Syracuse (20-13-3, 9-8-3 College Hockey America) faces Mercyhurst (22-7-4, 15-3-2) in the CHA semifinals Friday at 4 p.m. in Erie, Pa. The top-seeded Lakers have a strong defense, but the Orange has scored 10 goals in its last two games, its highest total for a two-game span this entire season.“You want to be playing your best hockey down the stretch,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “Regardless of who you’re playing, if you score that many goals, it just gives confidence to the team as a whole.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has shown that it can put the puck in the net against Mercyhurst, as the Orange has scored nine goals in four games against the Lakers this season.In those four games, SU lost by one goal twice, two goals once and tied once. But for a team that’s reaching its peak offensively, Syracuse is more confident than ever that its high-powered attack gives it the best chance yet to finally break through and beat Mercyhurst for the first time in program history. “We really need to get it out of our heads that we haven’t beaten them before,” sophomore Nicole Renault said. “It’s one-and-done, and I think we can get it done.”Renault and fellow sophomore Melissa Piacentini are the two leading point-scorers on the team, having combined for 57 on the season.But it’s the offensive contributions of everyone else that make the Orange such a lethal threat. Nineteen different players have scored or assisted this year, and 12 players have amassed double-digit point totals.Piacentini mentioned how important Syracuse’s depth can be, especially when the magnitude of the game calls on each player to be at her best.“It’s playoffs, so you have to do all the little things right,” Piacentini said. “It’s the biggest part of the season, so for (everyone) to step up is really important.”Flanagan noted how his team doesn’t have a Christine Bestland or Christie Cicero, the Lakers’ clear-cut main offensive weapons.Rather, Syracuse’s depth allows it to have a strategic advantage before the game even starts.“When you do video and talks with the team, they’ve got to respect that we have scoring in layers,” Flanagan said. “From their perspective, you can’t just key on a couple players.”This certainly rang true for the Orange in the quarterfinals, as 13 different players recorded points in the weekend sweep of Lindenwood that featured two Orange blowouts. Players such as freshman Heather Schwarz and senior Cara Johnson didn’t produce much early on in the season, but they’ve kicked it into gear down the stretch.After recording just three points in the first 26 games, Johnson has totaled seven in the last nine. Schwarz had one goal up until the playoffs, but she scored in both games this past weekend.Renault echoed Flanagan in saying that these timely contributions give the Orange a distinct advantage.“We can’t say now who’s going to score,” Renault said. “We can all put the puck in the net, and anyone on our team has the potential to get the game-winner.”Syracuse is in position to pull off a shocking upset, and Flanagan is just fine with being underestimated even as the Orange poses a serious offensive threat.“(Mercyhurst) isn’t worried about it,” Flanagan said. “They’re probably looking right past us. Wouldn’t it be great to go right into their barn and ruin their season.” Comments Published on March 6, 2014 at 12:31 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmanlast_img