Unexpected veteran presence Evan Molloy steadies Syracuse depleted defense

first_img Published on February 22, 2017 at 7:13 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ What now constitutes as “experienced” on Syracuse’s defense is less than a year spent as a starter.Evan Molloy, a backup 10 months ago, now barks orders from the net as a grizzled guru. Injuries and graduation have forced the redshirt senior into the leadership position on a defense with a former fourth man, a fresh-faced sophomore and transitioning long-stick midfielder. Molloy has an approach manicured over years of goaltending: Be really, really loud.“I make my voice really deep,” Molloy said, speaking normally. “It doesn’t sound like this. I’m yelling at people. It’s intense.”Syracuse’s current defense — Tyson Bomberry, Marcus Cunningham and Scott Firman — combined for one start at their positions entering the year. But it’s the group Syracuse must roll with after preseason All-American defender Nick Mellen, who started all but one game last season, needed season-ending surgery.Albany exposed Syracuse’s new defensive line last Saturday like Siena never could with skip passes and quick rotations. Now, No. 6 Syracuse (2-0) needs Molloy to be the antidote for inexperience by preparing and directing teammates for when Army (2-1) visits the Carrier Dome on Saturday at noon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“(Molloy) is very local, which helps our defense play well as a unit,” SU head coach John Desko said. “He’s like a quarterback out there. Communication is important. … He’s been the strength of our defense.”The coach now heaping high praise passed on starting Molloy last season but reversed his decision after eight games. Immediately, Desko noticed, defensive communication improved. The fluidity of slides, second slides and recovers increased. Syracuse’s clearing improved from 88 percent to 93. “He really turned some things around for us,” Desko said.Molloy transitioned into the larger role midseason, leaning on senior stalwarts Jay McDermott and Brandon Mullins. This season, roles reversed.“I love playing for Evan,” redshirt sophomore Cunningham said. “He bails you out all the time and he’s very vocal. …. Even though usually we are in a good spot, he’s always reminding you where you need to be.”Molloy, though, cannot communicate what he does not see. But therein lies his strength as a goaltender, he said. Because Jamie Molloy, his father, introduced him to lacrosse in Manhasset, New York, at age 5, Molloy said he often recognizes offensive sets and angles.He compares it to playing football and walking to the line of scrimmage. You can’t exactly explain how you know the defense will blitz, but you yell to alert your teammates anyway. The confidence to direct as Molloy did last season as a career backup comes from Jamie. His father holds the career saves record at SU and still says, according to Molloy, that he could play wide receiver in the NFL. Projecting unfailing confidence has been passed down and now signifies one of Molloy’s strongest traits.“It’s just my IQ,” Molloy said of his strength in net. “I’ve been playing the game since I was 5. … I’m just a good leader inherently. I’m in the net and (defenders) hear my voice, their ears perk up. ‘He’s telling me something I got to do.’ Then they realize someone’s wide open in the crease.”The vocal and fundamental soundness reminds ESPN lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon of other great Syracuse goalies, such as John Galloway and Jay Pfeifer. The 6-foot, 176-pound redshirt senior’s frame, read-and-react style and steadying influence fit the archetype.The Orange needs a calming presence now more than ever. The experience has already hurt Syracuse two games into the season with struggles against Albany. When SU faced a 6-1 hole against the Great Danes, Desko shifted lineups by rotating Austin Fusco and Andrew Helmer at long-stick midfielder and even subbed off Cunningham for true freshman Nick DiPietro in long spurts. The defense clamped down and didn’t allow a goal in the next 30:38 en route to a 10-9 win. But Desko credited Molloy and his four second-half saves to cool a scalding offense and play SU back into the game.The result didn’t surprised teammates. And Molloy even less. But they know it’s only the beginning of the defense’s transition. Impromptu adjustments require time to normalize and, until then, Molloy will push Syracuse forward with direction from behind.“I have the best view because (defenders) are all focused on their men,” Molloy said. “Their back might be turned, but I’m in the net. I can see everything.” Commentslast_img read more

Fabregas helps Chelsea go 11 points clear

first_imgLONDON (AP):Cesc Fabregas made the most of a rare Chelsea start with a goal and an assist in his 300th English Premier League appearance, helping the leaders beat Swansea 3-1 to go 11 points clear yesterday.After dislodging Nemanja Matic from the line-up to make only his sixth start in 26 league matches, Fabregas put Chelsea in front in the 19th minute with a deflected shot.Pedro Rodriguez was the provider and Fabregas returned the favour after Fernando Llorente levelled with a header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick on the stroke of halftime. Fabregas slotted the ball through for Pedro to curl into the net through goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski’s hands in the 72nd.Any prospect of a second equaliser for Swansea ended after Diego Costa volleyed in his 16th goal of the league campaign from Eden Hazard’s cutback in the 84th.For Fabregas, it was a third goal of the title challenge on the day he reassured Chelsea that he wasn’t looking to leave despite limited playing time.CESC PLAYED WELL”Cesc played a really good game, but it’s important for me to have these solutions … when we need to have a player with more quality (on the ball), and to lose something in height,” Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said. “I’m really pleased to see him in this form despite not starting the last game in the league. This is the right way to continue.”It was Fabregas’ 102nd assist in a Premier League career that began in 2003 with Arsenal and continued from 2014 with Chelsea after a three-year hiatus at Barcelona. Retired Manchester United great Ryan Giggs is the league’s maestro of assists with 162, and now, next on the list is Fabregas level with former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, whose career was celebrated with a halftime appearance on the Stamford Bridge pitch yesterday.The current generation of Chelsea players will surely be parading the Premier League trophy again on the field in May, with Antonio Conte’s side running away with the title despite drawing two of their past four games.Now it’s about the players staying focused on regaining the silverware they won two years ago under JosÈ Mourinho.”To keep the concentration for the whole championship is not easy,” Conte said. “They know very well the way that we must continue to try to stay at the top of the table to try and win the title. For this reason, I’m lucky. I’m lucky to have a lot of players who, in the past, won a lot.”More points might have been dropped if defender Cesar Azpilicueta had been penalised for a handball in the second half just before Fabregas provided Pedro’s goal.But no penalty was awarded, ensuring that it was a miserable return to west London for Swansea manager Paul Clement, who was an assistant coach under Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea won the title in 2010. The south Wales club is three points above the relegation zone.”I thought it was a penalty,” Clement said. “It’s 1-1 and we had a chance to go to 2-1. On reflection, they’ve had a lot more chances and a lot more of the ball, so probably deserved the victory, but we defended resolutely for long periods, made it difficult.”Other results: Crystal Palace 1 Middlesbrough 0; Everton 2 Sunderland 0; Hull City 1 Burnley 1; West Brom 2 Bournemouth 1; Watford 1 West Ham 1.last_img read more