Staats looks to bounce back from 1-point game as Syracuse takes on Hobart
Spencer Bodian | Staff Photographer
Just four days after what some called his breakthrough game, Randy Staats’ next act was a disappearing one.
Staats’ nine-point show at Cornell led Syracuse to an upset on April 8, but also warned North Carolina who it had to target on the SU attack.
“I think they just noticed that he’s a threat to score, he’s a threat to feed and they didn’t want the ball in his stick very long,” SU head coach John Desko said.
Although the Tar Heels clamped down on Staats — who was coming off the best individual performance Syracuse had seen thus far this year — and held him to a season-low one point all game, the Orange offense was able to overcome his ineffectiveness and still prevail. The junior college transfer hopes to bounce back when No. 4 Syracuse (8-3, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) battles Hobart (4-7, 3-2 Northeast) at Boswell Field in Geneva, N.Y., on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“This was the first game I couldn’t really move or do too much and (the defender) was all over me,” Staats said. “That’s a challenge I like to accept. I failed, I think.”
Up until the matchup with UNC, SU’s third-leading scorer had logged at least two points in each of the eight games he played.
But no game matched his outing in Ithaca, N.Y., and no goal matched his third one of the night.
Early in the fourth quarter, Cornell’s Tom Freshour picked off Syracuse attack Kevin Rice’s pass to Staats from behind the cage. Quickly, Staats dislodged both the stick and the ball from Freshour’s grasp and scooped up the loose ball.
Staats spun through a converging defender and ducked away from another, elevating his stick with one hand and pulling it back down to protect the ball, before stepping twice to the side and ripping a shot inside the left pipe for a score.
“I just shrugged my shoulders and started laughing on the sideline when I saw that,” faceoff specialist Chris Daddio said. “That’s just the kind of plays that he makes. It’s fun watching him.”
It highlighted Staats’ takeover of the game and reaffirmed his ability to score with creativity inside the box, a flair he had boasted in spurts previously.
But when the Tar Heels visited the Carrier Dome, their defense gave Staats more attention than an opponent had given him all year. Only one turnover hung over Staats’ head in the box score, but it was a tougher struggle for the SU attack than the stat line indicates.
Junior Jake Bailey often drew him one-on-one, and the physical 6-foot-5 defender had help coming each time Staats got a touch. UNC didn’t slide off Staats and double-teamed him quickly — and sometimes threw a third player Staats’ way.
“I’ve got to do a better job of trying to shake them off of me,” Staats said. “I think I’ve got to work a little harder myself to get the ball. It’s on me more than anybody else.”
More than once, Staats ended up on the Carrier Dome turf after another unfruitful possession. Even when he was matched with a short-stick midfielder, he couldn’t capitalize.
But when Syracuse needed a goal most, Staats made the right move with the ball.
“I think it shows that he’s an unselfish player, that he was willing to give up the ball and let the other guys do the work,” Rice said.
In the second overtime, he dodged from behind the cage to the left doorstep. When a Tar Heel came down to double-team him at the goal line, Staats fed an open Billy Ward at the left wing.
And when Ward’s shot made ripples in the back of the net, Staats was the first to rush the game-winning goal scorer, whose goal negated Staats’ scoreless outing.
But if Staats is paired with a bigger shadow come postseason time, he now knows what it’ll take to get the job done.
Said Staats: “I tried to get open and I wasn’t finding open areas like I was against Cornell. I think I’ve got to work a little harder and be a little smarter with the ball and try to regroup and focus up again.”
Published on April 17, 2014 at 2:00 am