Kenny Lassiter transforms into offensive threat for Syracuse

first_img Published on October 27, 2016 at 12:21 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Kenny Lassiter doesn’t crack a smile when called “Bambi on ice skates.” One year ago, that’s what head coach Ian McIntyre dubbed him, a comparison his teammates still agree with today.Lassiter possesses a unique combination of size, strength and foot skills, all of which he’s meshed together to become an offensive threat for SU. Players and coaches describe him as unorthodox unpredictable.The redshirt junior has scored three goals this season, tied for second on the team. Though he’s been held off the scoreboard since Sept. 16 against Boston College, Lassiter has started SU’s last three games after starting only two of the No. 6 Orange’s (10-3-2, 3-2-2) previous 11. Even without scoring, Lassiter has been able to disrupt opposing defenses.Against No. 2 Wake Forest (12-2-2, 5-1-1 Atlantic Coast) at SU Soccer Stadium on Friday night, Lassiter will need to do what he’s capable of to give Syracuse a chance at a bye in the ACC tournament — be unconventional yet effective and wreak havoc on the opposing defense.“When he gets going, he’s a real handful,” McIntyre said. “He makes defenders very uncomfortable, and he’s strong, he’s powerful and he’s earned the right to start the last couple games.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBefore this season, Lassiter had only one goal in two years. That came on Aug. 30, 2015, an overtime game-winner against Bucknell in Syracuse’s second game and first win of last season. He didn’t score in any of SU’s 23 games after that in the Orange’s run to the College Cup semifinals.Ben Polk’s departure to Major League Soccer opened a void atop Syracuse’s scoring chart. Lassiter filled it in the spring, when he led the team in goals, and carried it over to the regular season with two goals in SU’s first three games. Since then, though, he’s only accounted for one goal as Syracuse saw its season sputter after an 8-0 start.“I think I’ve definitely been a little more consistent, maybe not as much with the goals,” Lassiter said of his recent starter-worthy play.While Chris Nanco is better running off the ball and slightly better at taking defenders one-on-one, Lassiter can hold the ball up and come out of almost any scrum with the ball at his feet because of his long, strong legs.Sometimes, and especially in previous years, those scrums left him on the ground. That’s how he earned the Bambi comparison, but Lassiter has learned to stay upright and push the ball past commotion.“Kenny always finds a way out of those little scrambles, so it’s kind of like watching Bambi on ice when he’s just slipping around,” Liam Callahan said, “but it works out for him which is probably the funniest part about it.”Lassiter disagrees with the comparison to the animated movie animal. He likes to think his balance has always been stable, and that the main area for improvement is getting his shot off quicker rather than staying on his feet.During Tuesday’s practice, the team played a game called “World Cup,” where small teams are all inside the 18-yard box trying to score. McIntyre told the team that around 70 percent of its goals have come inside the 6-yard box, and this drill emphasized scoring from close range.That’s where Lassiter’s quick trigger comes into play during games, when emerging from those scrums could lead to a goal. And as the regular season winds down and Syracuse still searches for goals from its top scorers, Lassiter will have to deliver.“I’ve seen him do a lot of amazing things,” Nanco said. “He does some amazing things in practice and in the games that I couldn’t even imagine myself doing. He knows he can play with the top players in this league and the country.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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