No. 5 Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse Looks to Stay Hot, Plays Holy Cross Due to a COVID Postponement

Mar 19, 2021

Syracuse celebrates its 17-9 victory over Stony Brook on Friday.
Credit Cuse.com

After a rocky opening day for fifth-ranked Syracuse men’s lacrosse, it seems as though the team has found its footing. The Orange have won three-straight games possessing one of the most potent scoring attacks in the country and a defense that seemed to take strides against Stony Brook, surrendering just nine goals and 23 shots on goal last Saturday. But, a chance to win four consecutive contests almost didn’t happen this week with an unidentified member of Hofstra testing positive for Covid-19. 

 

“We had to scramble to see who is available to play,” said head coach John Desko. “We started with the team a little preparation today and we got tomorrow and Friday.”

 

Syracuse started getting ready for their next opponent - Holy Cross - on Wednesday and it’s not necessarily ideal for a team on-a-roll considering teams, on a winning streak, tend to want to stay in a routine. The last time the Orange played a team with slightly less than normal preparation was the Army game. The bad news, not having optimal preparedness was one of the main reasons why SU lost that afternoon. The good news, the players should hopefully be in better physical condition this time around. 

 

One of those players who didn’t seem to look like himself that day was Syracuse attackman, Owen Hiltz. The Freshman from Peterborough, Ontario had a decent college debut recording a goal and an assist against Army, but considering his recent play, it looks as though his performance - on opening day - was a “down” one. 

 

Now, his play is taking off and he’s beginning to show why he was one of the top recruits in the country. Hiltz has recorded three-straight five-point games, with a team-leading 11 goals in that span. The attackman is tied for the overall team lead in goals with Tucker Dordevic and is second on the team in points with 17.

There will be fans allowed in the Dome this weekend, unlike last Saturday. It’ll be limited to 900 which is the same number the University allowed two weeks ago versus Vermont.

 

In this week’s USILA poll, SU climbed two spots, moving back into the top-5 for the first time since the preseason. The Orange’s last opponent - Stony Brook - received no votes and the Crusaders also received zero votes for the top-20.

 

Credit @USILA_Lax

This week, Syracuse takes on another first-time opponent in Holy Cross. The Crusaders are 1-2 and are the Orange’s third-straight unranked matchup. The Crusaders feature Sophomore attackman Dean DiNanno who leads the team in goals (7) and points (9). Holy Cross also has midfielder Connor DePiero who was recently named Patriot League Specialist of the Week. The Freshman won 14-of-15 faceoffs last week vs. Boston University and head coach J.L. Reppert had high praise for the men at the x.

“There has been great improvement in what we’re trying to do and showed it off for those guys,” said Reppert. “It’s a credit to their hard work and their desire to prove themselves… and [they] gave us a great spark...”

Holy Cross was 20-of-26 at the faceoff-x against Boston University last Friday, but that was perhaps its only positive that evening. The Crusaders scored the first goal against BU and then proceeded to give up 11 straight through the rest of the first half. They eventually lost 16-6 and are currently last in the North Division standings of the Patriot League.

Connor DePiero (white) wins one of his 15 faceoff attempts against Boston University.
Credit @hcrossmlax

Holy Cross was 20-of-26 at the faceoff-x against Boston University last Friday, but that was perhaps its only positive that evening. The Crusaders scored the first goal against BU and then proceeded to give up 11 straight through the rest of the first half. They eventually lost 16-6 and are currently last in the North Division standings of the Patriot League.

 

Regardless, Holy Cross shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Crusaders have lost two-straight games and maybe have extra motivation after last week’s shellacking. The Orange also have had less time to prepare and they need to be extra careful not to look past Holy Cross. SU is scheduled to travel to Duke next week to face the top team in the country and it plays top-10 opponents in six of its next seven games. However, the ‘Cuse can only focus and take care of one team at a time. 

 

“We’ve got to understand what our job is this weekend and I think the guys will be ready,” said Desko.

 

With all that being said, Syracuse is just happy to be playing a game this weekend. Sure, a win would be nice, but another opportunity to build momentum for the coming weeks nearly fell through. Such is life in the bizarre world of Covid-19.

 

The Orange are facing another first-time opponent and are looking to win their fourth straight Saturday at noon. Countdown to Faceoff begins at 11:30 a.m. on the original home of the Orange, WAER. Syracuse Men’s Basketball is in action Friday night for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It takes on San Diego St. at 9:40. Tune in at 9:00 for Countdown to Tipoff on WAER.