Bobby Wardwell turns in vastly improved performance against UNC, anchors Syracuse defense in win

first_imgCHESTER, Pa. — Syracuse’s locker room teemed with loud, erratic noises that couldn’t be deciphered until a distinct “Bob” chant broke out.Minutes later, SU’s goalie sat at the podium and looked down at a stat sheet that had 14 saves to his name, less than two weeks after being pulled just after halftime against the same North Carolina team.“When we played down there, I think they scouted me really well,” Bobby Wardwell said. “Didn’t have a great game down there obviously and it’s just nice to come out and get the win now.”On Friday night, Wardwell saved balls with his body, his stick and even relied on his posts. But regardless of the situation it was the Orange’s goalie who was the backbone of a Syracuse defense that allowed nine less goals than last time it faced the Tar Heels.UNC goalie Kieran Burke had 13 saves, but it was the SU senior who won the battle of the net minders in third-seeded Syracuse’s (10-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) 9-8 win over second-seeded North Carolina (12-3, 3-1) in the ACC tournament semifinals at PPL Park.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think as the year has gone on, he started making some saves that really he shouldn’t save and he’s very solid in the goal,” SU head coach John Desko said. “I just think he’s just been playing solid and terrific all year long.”In the first quarter, UNC midfielder Shane Simpson unleashed a wide-open shot from 10 yards out to Wardwell’s left. He reacted swiftly, deflecting the ball wide of the goal to preserve SU’s 2-0 lead at the time.Then in the second, Wardwell saved a Jimmy Bitter shot with his knees and seconds later, stopped a Joey Sankey wrap-around in between his legs.“I think we just kind of got him hot to start,” Tar Heels midfielder Chad Tutton said. “We weren’t really finding the net in the beginning, tough shooting day for us.“He made a couple really big saves early and I think he kind of just fed off that as the game went on.”Wardwell credited his vastly improved performance against UNC to pointers from undergraduate student coach Dominic Lamolinara. He worked on Wardwell’s defense against low shots – which he stopped plenty of – and gave Wardwell a bevy of looks on his off-stick side.Attacks Kevin Rice and Dylan Donahue also peppered Wardwell with shots throughout the week, making sure he wouldn’t be caught off guard with any scouting report UNC would throw at him this time around.And heading into the second half tied at five, it was Wardwell who anchored a unit that held UNC to only one goal in the next 15 minutes.“I though Wardwell, made seven saves in the third quarter, was huge,” UNC head coach Joe Breschi said. “We had some great opportunities there and he came up big.”After back-to-back saves, Wardwell slowly rose from the ground and tapped his stick on the grass as Randy Staats went on to score on the other end. Then after another save on a Bitter laser, Wardwell cleared cleanly and calmly walked out past the crease.It was a different Bobby Wardwell than 13 days ago, one that was the difference in stifling a North Carolina attack that pasted 17 goals on the Orange last time.And just as he did from the sideline as the Tar Heels held a sizable lead on their home field, Wardwell watched. But this time, it was in the fourth quarter from his own net, as his team ran out the clock on the other end.“I’ve seen Bob play great all year,” Desko said. “I didn’t expect anything else.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 24, 2015 at 11:58 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmanlast_img

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