Ben Williams dominates at X, paves way for No. 2 Syracuse’s 17-12 win over No. 9 Albany

first_img Published on April 3, 2015 at 12:10 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+ When the referee blew his whistle for the opening faceoff, Ben Williams popped the ball forward, caught it in his stick and streaked down the field.And then he won 23 more.Williams kept Albany attacks Seth Oakes and Lyle Thompson at bay by winning faceoff after faceoff. The SU sophomore won 24-of-27 en route to his best performance of the season. Each faceoff win helped the No. 2 Orange (8-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) keep more possession in its 17-12 win over No. 9 Albany (7-2, 3-1 America East) on Thursday night in front of 6,813 in the Carrier Dome.“I have never seen a face-off performance like I’d seen either,” Albany head coach Scott Marr said. “The kid was unbelievable in the X. That was ultimately the difference in the game.”Even on the faceoffs Williams lost, he was hardly beat. At the beginning of the second quarter, the ball popped out from between Albany faceoff specialist Cason Liles’ and Williams’ sticks, squirting behind Liles. SU’s wings led a scrum that pushed the ball all the way to a restraining line, but Albany came up with the ball.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe most important function Williams played was as an answer to Albany attack Lyle Thompson, who scored four goals and assisted on three more. Winning faceoffs kept the ball out of Thompson’s stick and made the Great Danes play more defense than offense.Thompson was matched with Ralph D’Agostino to start the game in place of Sean Young because he would be quicker to slides, but Thompson still produced. The Albany attack threw everything it could at SU’s defense, including Oakes – who scored two goals – firing a running jump shot through his legs and behind his back.“Who knows, if that’s a 50-50 possession, what the score would be?” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “I don’t know. I think that was huge for us. I think Ben did a great job and gave us all those opportunities.”In Albany’s last game, it’s faceoff specialist, Connor Russell — who won nearly 53 percent of his draws— tore his ACL, ending his season. Liles, who replaced Russell, was subbed out after the 19th faceoff of the game in the third quarter.Marr used three other players — long-stick midfielder Harry Erickson, Kevin McNally and Matthew Bertrams — to try and slow down Williams. The Albany head coach said his team’s goal was to use its athleticism to jam Williams and hopefully create ground ball situations.“We’ve seen a lot this year in terms of different things to do at the faceoff X. We knew what we were going to see,” Williams said. “We were going to see them rake a little bit. I was surprised they went out and clamped as much as they did.”It didn’t matter what Albany did. Williams won the rest of the faceoffs from the third quarter until he was subbed out with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.When Williams came off the field and through the substitution box, he and Erickson started shoving each other before they walked to their respective sidelines.Williams said that Liles had said some “stuff I was surprised at.”While the sophomore propped up SU the whole game, fans now leaned in — Marr said it felt like the fans were right on top of the field — and he exited the game to fans serenading Erickson and Marr.“A lot of guys like to talk a little bit on the field and try to…,” Williams trailed off. “give me some cheap stuff.“I don’t know, they can do that all they want.” Commentslast_img

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