Paolo Ciferri fills in as Syracuse lacrosse defensive midfielder

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Paolo Ciferri took it as a slap in the face. Eleven goals allowed to Johns Hopkins. Sixteen allowed to Duke. Seventeen to Notre Dame. Three consecutive weeks and three consecutive losses. Ciferri, who is “always the one getting picked on,” took it personally.As one of the only defensive players on the field with a short stick, other teams target Ciferri. It’s a constant battle he wasn’t expecting when he joined Syracuse four years ago. But the redshirt junior now knows what’s coming.“Most teams won’t even bother dodging against long sticks,” Ciferri said. “… You just have to be ready for it.”Ciferri serves the role as a short-stick defensive midfielder for No. 9 Syracuse (6-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast), which visits Cornell (4-5, 0-1 Ivy) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field. With senior Tom Grimm sustaining an injury two games ago and missing SU’s most recent contest, Ciferri has stepped up as the Orange’s top short-stick D-middie. He’s had to be ready to perform the same way he has to be when opposing teams try to exploit him.Over the years, Ciferri has developed skills to thrive on the defensive end after playing in a more offensive-oriented role in high school. Part of it had to do with getting stronger. Part of it had to do with getting faster. Another part had to do with understanding the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“There are smart, efficient ways of playing defense that cut down on expending all of your energy,” Ciferri said.By studying opposing players’ tendencies, Ciferri can conserve energy as he plays a more prominent role. When the ball is behind the net, he knows he has to twist his hips in the right direction and lift his stick in the correct passing lane. If he doesn’t, he might be making himself work harder than he has to later on.In practice, Ciferri works on shortening his steps and chopping his feet to help him better prepare to defend players one-on-one. It helps him get into a better defensive stance so the opposition doesn’t just sprint right by him.After scoring 30 goals and recording 23 assists as a senior at Ithaca (New York) High School, Ciferri planned on playing more offensively at SU. But after immediately shifting to the defensive end at SU, he changed his mindset from being a scoring threat to a player that does the opposite.“It’s a lot of the behind-the-scenes work and not a lot of glory,” Ciferri said. “A lot of people don’t realize a key ground ball here, a key defensive stop here at my position is as influential to the game.” Spencer Bodian | Staff Photographer Published on April 11, 2016 at 10:37 pm Contact Paul: | @pschweds Syracuse head coach John Desko said on Monday that he expects Grimm to return at some point this season, but didn’t specify when. In Grimm’s place, Ciferri has stepped up even more in the past couple games.“He’s one of our leader’s on defense right now,” Desko said.When Ciferri first joined the Orange, he weighed 150 pounds. According to this year’s roster, he weighs 178 pounds.Bulking up was one of his goals, and he’s accomplished it. Another piece to the puzzle of developing as an effective defensive midfielder and being able to stop bigger offensive players.“He was kind of a beanpole when he got here,” Desko said. “He had to get stronger, get a little bigger, put a little more weight on to cover some of the big middies out there. I think he’s done a very good job with that.”Once Grimm went down against Notre Dame and hobbled off the field a week and a half ago, no one said anything special to Ciferri.Throughout the season, several players have had to replace others: Tim Barber for Nick Piroli, Evan Molloy for Warren Hill and Devin Shewell for Barber.Now Ciferri is on that list, too.“It’s just another guy who we need to fill a void for,” Ciferri said. “The next guy has to step up.” Commentslast_img

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