WLAX : Needing win, Syracuse returns home for 1st time since February

first_img Published on April 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm Syracuse has been a little homesick. After limping through a six-game road trip with a 2-4 record, the separation from its home environment was evident.‘It’s always sunny and 70 in the Dome,’ SU senior attack Tee Ladouceur said, ‘instead of other places, where weather ailments can sometimes affect the outcome of a game. The Dome is nice.’The Orange (3-6, 1-0 Big East) has only played two of its nine games at home this season, and its subpar overall record demonstrates the effects. In his three years as head coach, Gary Gait has led his Syracuse teams to a .793 winning percentage in the Carrier Dome. And with this year’s squad in desperate need of a win, it’s a better time than ever to be back in Syracuse.Friday, SU takes on Connecticut (6-4, 0-2) in its first home game since Feb. 27.Since Gait began his tenure in 2008, Syracuse has compiled Dome records of 10-1, 7-2 and 6-3. This year, SU is 1-1. Never before has a Gait-led team lost more than two games on the road. So far this year, it has lost five.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn its two games at home, SU is averaging 15 scores per game. In its seven on the road, SU is averaging 9.4.‘I think it’s a whole mixture of things,’ Ladouceur said of the road struggles. ‘We’re not always on the same page together. Obviously, we’re looking to win games, even when we are on the road.’As far as winning games in the postseason, there is a definite advantage for the team that owns the road-warrior mentality, Gait said earlier this season. But as far as winning games — and more importantly, building chemistry — in the regular season, playing a few within the friendly confines can’t hurt.SU’s backup goaltender Alyssa Costantino, in her first season with the Orange, still vividly recalls the first time she set foot inside.‘I remember the first time I saw it. I actually got goose bumps,’ Costantino said. ‘It feels like a professional field, so when you walk in, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is big time.”Perhaps the setting the Dome provides creates a sense of intimidation for the Orange’s opponents. And after SU dominated the Huskies last season on the road, the friendly confines of the Dome are only an added advantage.When the two teams met in Storrs, Conn., last season, the Syracuse defense forced 17 turnovers and allowed just one goal in each half en route to an 11-2 win. SU has won all 13 of its previous matchups with the Huskies and is a perfect 6-0 at home.‘All the other teams come in here and have big eyes and are like, ‘Wow, this is it,” said SU starting goaltender Liz Hogan. ‘And we get to be here every day.’Since losing to top-ranked Maryland on March 12, Syracuse has been outscored by only three goals in a five-game stretch (54-51). It has won two of the five, but both wins came against unranked teams in Towson and Rutgers. The three losses have all come against ranked opponents in Florida, Northwestern and Dartmouth.The question now becomes whether Syracuse is losing because it has been playing games on the road or because it is being outplayed.Come Friday, the answer will materialize. Perhaps the answer to resolving the struggle is as simple as returning back home.Syracuse now has that opportunity, and when the Huskies visit the Dome this Friday, SU will look to get over the homesickness that has come with a 2-5 road trip.‘There are no excuses for losing these games when we’re away,’ Ladouceur said. ‘Those are games that we should have won, but obviously here, there is a comfort zone.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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