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Nick Mariano, No. 1 Syracuse’s top scorer, develops weak hand to round out arsenal

first_imgFrom time to time, Evan Molloy tells Nick Mariano when the popcorn is popping. Or when the muffins are coming his way. By that, Syracuse’s goalie means easy saves.Around the Syracuse lacrosse team, there’s a running joke that Mariano does not have a right hand. “He gets a lot of crap,” senior midfielder Sergio Salcido said. Even when Mariano shoots with his non-dominant hand, his right, it sometimes comes toward the cage relatively slow. Molloy calls such shots popcorn or muffins because they’re too easy to stop.“With Mariano, you want to make him go right,” ESPN lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon said.Mariano realized early this year that many teams would put their top defender on him. Often, they’d force him right. When they do so, the SU senior midfielder is beginning to have an answer. He no longer relies solely on his powerful left-handed snipe, which zips at about 100 miles per hour and makes him the leading scorer (29 goals) on the country’s top-ranked team. He’s scored at least two goals this season with his right — at least two more than he did all of last year, when he scored each of his team-high 35 goals with his dominant left hand.Mariano has scored 64 goals over the last two seasons, 22 more than anybody else on SU. By developing his right hand for dodging, shooting and passing, he can round out his game for No. 1 Syracuse (11-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) in what are his final weeks of college lacrosse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I know I can shoot the ball right-handed,” Mariano said. “I’ve just got to get confidence in myself and consistently put it on cage where I want it.”Ally Moreo | Photo EditorIn practice, defenders heavily favor his left, almost begging him to go right. Mariano, the leading scorer at Massachusetts in 2014 and 2015 and now at SU, usually will flash his right for a few steps then roll back to the side he’s more comfortable with. He knows he should go right more.For Mariano, a solidified right hand would mean more pressure on the defense. He would draw more slides, leaving spaces for others. He would add to an already impressive arsenal, and he would become less predictable.“Contrary to popular to belief,” redshirt senior Joe Gillis said, “he does have a right hand. I’ve seen him put it in his right this year more than all of last year. Teams know he’s all left, so if they’re going to give him that right, I don’t think he’s going to be shy to take it.”In 2016, Mariano didn’t score a single goal with his right, the team said. Last Wednesday in practice, he dodged on a couple of guys, stutter-stepped and shot it past Molloy with his right.“He threw his whole body into it,” Molloy said. “That’s when he’s at his best.” Molloy said Mariano scores on “every goalie,” citing his accuracy to put it top shelf or low corner almost at will.“I still get mad at myself,” Molloy said, “and sometimes I remind myself that nobody’s making that save.“Mariano’s the best shooter I’ve ever played against, hands down,” Molloy added. “It’s not even close. You have guys who can put the heat on the ball, but you can read it better. Mariano just hides his stick well, quick release. It’s a hard save to make. When I save his shots, I know I’m having a good day. All angles. It’s something special.”Evan Jenkins | Staff PhotographerBinghamton head coach Kevin McKeown said Mariano shoots even when he looks covered, sometimes double-teamed. He thrives at wrapping his hands around his defender and shooting from angles that make it hard for the goalie to pick up. He can dissect defenses with a foresight to see open spaces and attack them.One of Mariano’s hardest shots for a goalie to pick up may have come April 1 at then-No. 1 Notre Dame, where Mariano scored four goals to lift SU to the upset victory. His second score came on a right-handed shot. He laughed about it postgame, only a week after he scored three goals with his left against Duke. He knew UND would force him right. When UND took away his left, Mariano rolled back right and scored to put Syracuse up 7-5.“If he could add that to his game,” Salcido said, “he’ll be unbelievable.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21last_img read more

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