The #4 Syracuse men’s lacrosse team is 1-1 against ranked opponents this season. SU lost to then-ranked #13 Army 18-13, and then the following week dominated then-ranked #3 Virginia 20-10. However, this Thursday is Syracuse's toughest opponent of the season: second-ranked Duke.
"If you're not getting up for Syracuse/Duke..."
These are the kind of games you work for. pic.twitter.com/4gOllZhKtd
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 23, 2021
One thing has improved for the Orange since that loss to a ranked Black Knights team: the improvement of the defense. After giving up 18 goals to Army, Syracuse next only allowed 10 goals. Most recently though, SU only gave up 1 goal to an unranked Holy Cross team in the first half and 5 in the second half.
“I thought we played good individual defense [against Holy Cross]. They had a flurry early in the first quarter, so it was nice that Drake [Porter] came up with those saves. Our defense settled down and knew who they were. They didn't have to slide to them [Holy Cross] a lot today, Coach Rogers did a good job with personnel. As a result, we played good individual defense.” says Desko. “I think our defense was well prepared. When you win many faceoffs, they aren’t getting the ball much. Between our possession time and winning face-offs, Drake making stops, it helps our case defensively.”
There’s simply no other way to say it: the defense for the Orange needs to be stout against Duke. Syracuse’s offense has been producing behind Stephen Rehfuss, Chase Scanlan, and Jamie Trimboli. However, Mitch Wykoff, Michael Sabella, and CJ Trenkle need to reduce the number of shots that goalie Drake Porter sees. The senior only faced 12 shots last game, but a combined 170 shots in the first four contests is a heavy workload. However, the Ontario native is still proud of the group in front of him and looking forward to a tough matchup.
“With time and practice and seeing other opponents, we’re getting ideas for what other offenses do. A big part of that is facing big littles and inverts, which we struggled with early, and now we’re really coming into our own,” says Porter. “Excited and ready to roll against them. Not much to say, They’re number 1 for a reason so we’re excited for that game. It’s huge.
The Blue Devils are filled with offensive talent. Attackers Michael Sowers, Joe Robertson, and Brennan O’Neill have combined for 61 goals. Plus, Sowers specifically has been unstoppable recently. The Pennsylvania native won ACC Player of the week last week with 5 goals and 7 assists, and he has 44 points through 8 games. In order for Syracuse to beat Duke, the defense needs to be able to keep track of the Princeton transfer. Plus Robertson and O’Neill each have 29 and 27 points, respectively. This Blue Devils offense is nothing to scoff at.
The Orange will look to weather the Blue Devils offensive storm this Thursday night. The game is set to start at 7, and our coverage will begin at 6:30 with Countdown to Faceoff.