Nick Piroli emerges as key piece to Syracuse’s offense

first_img Published on February 17, 2016 at 9:58 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Nick Piroli shuffled toward the sideline, luring his defender, and passed to an open Nick Mariano, who fired a shot past Siena’s goalie.Then, Piroli camped out in front of the cage while defenders scrambled to cover Dylan Donahue. Piroli coolly caught Donahue’s feed and quickly stuffed a goal into the net.Finally, as defenders sagged into a zone, Piroli unleashed a bounce shot into the opposite corner of the net.Piroli recorded two goals and one assist in his Syracuse debut and displayed his smarts and scrappy mentality that make him a fit for the Orange’s passing-based offense.“I like that style, I try not to turn the ball over a lot,” Piroli said. “I try to stay patient so I think that style kind of plays well with me.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPiroli brings the smooth skills he honed at Carthage (New York) High School and throughout his career at Brown to SU. The graduate student attack transferred from the Ivy League school because of the league’s redshirt rules. Despite sitting out his junior year with an injury, Piroli had no eligibility left. Now, Piroli is getting his final chance with the No. 5 Orange (1-0), who host No. 12 Albany at 4 p.m. on Sunday in the Carrier Dome.While Donahue, who scored 50 goals last year, is the unquestioned leader of the offense, Piroli provides a dynamic that was lost when Kevin Rice graduated. Though his exact role will be filled by the combination of Piroli, Donahue and Jordan Evans on attack, Piroli’s best skills are similar to Rice’s: being patient, being smart with the ball and being able to find the right teammates.“Nick’s not real flashy,” Siena head coach John Svec said after facing Syracuse on Saturday. “He does exactly what he is supposed to do and not necessarily what Coach is telling him. He’s not a robot by any means, but he’s a very intelligent player.”Piroli missed most fall practices because of another injury and, though he watched film to learn the offense, he’s still only in the early stages of his on-field SU career. In the season opener, he committed one of Syracuse’s 18 turnovers, a number Orange head coach John Desko said was too high. But Piroli’s skill set allows him to contribute right away.“He kind of dropped out of the sky for us,” Desko said, “and anytime you get a player that comes in that’s going to start for you, it’s certainly a bonus.”Last season at Brown, he had 10 goals and 24 assists while playing alongside 62-goal scorer Dylan Molloy. Now Donahue replaces Molloy, and Piroli’s calming presence fits even better with Syracuse’s slower pace. Carthage head coach Kirk Ventiquattro likened him to the director of a symphony.“He was born to be the facilitator offensively,” Ventiquattro said. “He knows that Dylan Donahue gets the ball, and he gets the ball to Dylan Donahue.”The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Piroli said he’s trying to improve his all-around game. He knows he’s not “an athletic specimen” so he relies on his intelligence.In a blowout win, Piroli didn’t have to flash his full arsenal, but he did show his progression on a team looking to replace five of its top six scorers from last season.“We’re testing his learning curve to get used to things in a real hurry here,” Desko said. “So I think as he gets more experience, he’s going to do better and better.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more