first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse and Denver each threaten with explosive offenses. As they take turns trying to unlock each other’s defense Saturday night, the pace of the game threatens to take off.Each team can run and punish. Syracuse would love to play on the break. “It’s in our blood,” head coach John Desko said. Or the Orange can back up, slow down and go into gradual dissection mode. Denver can too.Both have picked apart zones this season.So while Saturday’s 5 p.m. final four showdown between Denver (14-4) and Syracuse (15-3) will inevitably ebb and flow with the speed of each team’s high-powered offenses, the Orange is comfortable playing at any pace. SU sees ways to expose the Pioneers in transition, like North Carolina did last weekend. But the ability to cut through Denver regardless of the nature of the game is part of the team’s identity heading into the season’s final weekend.“One of the things I like the most about our offense and our team this year is we can play at different speeds,” SU attack Kevin Rice said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSo can Denver. It’s why the Pioneers score nearly 13 goals per game. Led by Canadian sharpshooter Wes Berg and Eric Law, Denver has failed to crack double digits in goals just once all season.“I suppose it could be a high-scoring game and we wouldn’t back down from that,” Desko said. “Although I see the offenses have been patient at times, both of them.”It’s why Syracuse will be especially tuned into the pulse of Saturday’s game.On Sunday, UNC tore into Denver in transition, pushing the Pioneers to the brink of elimination. The Orange has a keen eye on finishing the job the same way.“A lot of times they sub their guys off, maybe a little too many, so we definitely have to push in transition a lot,” SU midfielder Henry Schoonmaker said. “Like if you saw the UNC game, I think UNC had two poles score, d-middies score twice and I think four or five goals in transition. So I think that’s pretty key.”The Pioneers may rush to get its defensive midfielders off the field. And in doing so, may turn the ball over and leave themselves shorthanded at the other end. As a result, SU’s offensive midfielders are looking to their few defensive shifts as opportunities to score, rather than contain a man and sub off.Rice is most wary, though, of Denver’s faceoff specialist Chase Carraro. He won 17-of-26 faceoffs against the Tar Heels, making UNC’s fast-paced attack ultimately irrelevant. Carraro can almost singlehandedly grind SU’s offense to a halt and force the Orange to play a tighter, more meticulous game if possessions are few and far between.By Desko’s own admission, Denver’s an especially difficult team to prepare for.Regardless of what pace this national semifinal takes, though, SU believes it can win. The Orange and its coaching staff will break down the X’s and O’s of the Pioneers’ setup, project matchups and run from there – just like they do every week.At the same time, though, the Syracuse players know who they are as a team. They’re at the pinnacle of the game, and they’re ready to just play.“At this point of the year, you are who you are and I don’t think you’re going to change much, the style of who you are,” Schoonmaker said. “So you’re probably just going to play the lacrosse you’ve been playing.” Comments Published on May 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_last_img read more