first_img Published on March 24, 2019 at 6:46 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez CICERO — Postgame, after the mosh of white jerseys nearly tackled Brendan Curry in the far corner of the end zone, Drake Porter could only smile and shake his head. Syracuse had done it. Again. Three weeks and three fourth-quarter comebacks. And through it all, there was Porter — SU’s stabilizing goalie that’s been a standout. “I think even we may have been doubting it a little bit,” Porter said. “We just let the emotions go and have fun. It was an awesome time, we were playing loose on D.” A two-year backup turned first year starter, Porter has shone as the Orange’s third starting-goaltender in as many seasons. Porter entered the game with the 11th-best save-percentage in the nation (.556) and tallied at least 11 saves in each game. Sunday was no different. Through yet another offensive firestorm, a renewed defensive effort and 12 saves by Porter, No. 12 Syracuse (5-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) upset No. 2 Duke (8-2, 0-1), 10-9, at Michael J. Bragman Stadium. The Blue Devils wanted to “spread the net” and attack Porter from different angles, Porter said. High or low, he reacted to every area. After falling into another early hole, Porter anchored SU’s backline. His two overtime saves were the prevailing highlights that led to Curry’s game-winner. Porter remained calm and retained the mindset that’s carried him to his current role on one of the hottest teams in the nation. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“If you’re a Duke fan maybe you say we didn’t shoot the ball as smartly as we could have, especially inside,” Duke head coach John Danowiski said. “But you got to tip your cap and say (Porter) made the plays that were in front of him.”To start Sunday’s contest, a season-long struggle still hindered SU’s defense. Duke featured the “big-little” invert that Virginia popularized in its Carrier Dome win three weeks ago. The Blue Devils operated from behind the cage, “isolating the weakness,” Porter said. Porter noticed the strategy and, for a moment, it still worked against them.Sophomore attack Joe Robertson worked his way near the crease, broke down his assignment and scored, earning a crease-push penalty in the process. On the ensuing man-up, Duke worked it around SU’s zone and scored. A minute later, two Orange defenders charged Garrett Leadmon to only watch the ball fly past him as Duke established a three-goal lead. It was SU’s fourth three-goal deficit this season. Porter remained calm, he said. In the past, he’s worked with coaches to hone his intensity. So after Leadmon scored, Porter walked in a circle and readied for the next shot. Syracuse dropped into a zone whenever a Duke ball-handler went behind. The passing lanes closed and Blue Devils attack mustered fewer high-quality chances. The Blue Devils managed two scores, entering halftime with a 6-2 lead, but the counter had worked. Duke didn’t primarily use “big-little” schemes in the second half. In the third quarter, Porter didn’t allow a goal. The defense — which featured Nick Mellen shutting down Duke’s Brad Smith — synched in. Porter totaled three saves, Duke committed five turnovers and SU brought the margin to three. Porter soon identified DU’s own adjustment. The Blue Devils tried screens from the midfield to create space but it was stymied. By watching film earlier in the week, Porter had analyzed Duke’s shooting motions and matched sticks with DU’s litany of double-digit point scorers. “Not only did we do well shutting (Smith) down but it also threw off the chemistry of their offense,” Porter said. “…We had an emphasis on that and it worked out pretty well.” In overtime, after Syracuse’s offense propelled it forward, the Blue Devils won the opening draw. Feet planted in front of the crease, Porter readied. He knew he’d face at least one shot, so he cleared his head. He said he didn’t anticipate where a shot would go, he just reached. Duke ran another pick-and-roll from the midfield. Leadmon crashed down but didn’t have an angle. He flung one at Porter who stopped it and launched upfield. Just more than 60 seconds later, however, the ball worked its way to Kevin Quigley as SU couldn’t capitalize. Danowiski said Quigley was “a little too tight to the goal” and his ensuing shot was deflected by an Orange defender and was scooped by Porter. A successful clear and a shot by Curry queued another late-game celebration and another win for Porter, who’s been everything Syracuse expected him to be. “We may have gotten punched in the mouth early,” Porter said. “But no one was panicking. We stuck to our game plan and we made some adjustments.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more