It’s been a rollercoaster of a start for the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team. The Orange opened the season with an uncharacteristic and somewhat disappointing 18-11 loss to number seven Army inside the Dome. Things seemed slightly out of sync considering the Orange finished last season ranked number one before the COVID-19-induced shutdown. Fast forward to a week later, though, and the Cuse manhandled Virginia at home. The first half was fairly close, SU took a 9-7 lead into the break. The second half was where the Orange excelled. The Cuse outscored the Cavaliers 11-3 in the second frame en route to a 20-10 victory. It was a complete turnaround considering Syracuse scored just 11 goals total in its first outing against the Black Knights.
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“I really haven’t seen that kind of change on a team in one week…. How we were playing defense against Army and then how we played against UVA. Especially, when you have to know so many players at the offensive end of the field because they mix and match their positions so often,” said head coach John Desko following the win over Virginia.
The statement bounce-back W against Virginia featured four different Orange players scoring hat tricks while nine different players found the score sheet for SU. On the defensive side, all-American goalie Drake Porter put together a much better showing in game two. He stopped 30 of 40 total Cavalier shots. In game one against Army, he allowed a career-worst 18 goals on 44 shots. It’s fair to say that Porter and the rest of his Orange teammates have officially knocked off the rust. Following the win, Syracuse climbed three spots in the USILA rankings to number seven. So who’s next?
Syracuse plays its third straight game inside the Dome this Saturday. The Orange square-off with the University of Vermont for the first time ever in the regular season. SU opened its 2020 campaign with back-to-back scrimmages against Hofstra and Vermont. The Orange handled Hofstra 17-3 but had some trouble with the Catamounts. UVM outscored SU 5-1 in the first quarter, but the Cuse held on to win 11-10. Syracuse mostly played reserves in that game.
Saturday will be the first time fans are allowed inside the Carrier Dome this season. Attendance will be limited to 900 people.
"Having students back for the first time in over a year will provide a boost for the student body, including our student-athletes. We appreciate the support of Onondaga County and New York State and their continued guidance in these unprecedented times,” said Director of Athletics John Wildhack.
The Catamounts play in the American East Conference which features number 18 Albany and Stony Brook, the Cuse’s next opponent. Vermont comes in at 1-1 following a 21-7 shellacking of UMass Lowell on Wednesday. UVM dropped its season opener 15-12 to Bryant back on February 27th.
Since 2017, when head coach Chris Feifs took over, the Catamounts are 28-20 overall, 9-9 in the AE conference. Vermont has been to two conference championships during his tenure, lost both, and has finished third or better two of the four seasons he’s been at the helm. He guided Vermont to its most successful season in program history in 2018. The Catamounts ended with a 12-4 overall record, the first UVM squad to record 12 wins in a season. No Vermont team had recorded 10 wins over Division I opponents in program history before then.
In 2021, the Catamounts leading point-getter is midfielder Thomas McConvey. The junior from Ontario, Canada hasn’t started a game yet this season but has six goals and three assists in two games played. As a rookie in 2019, McConvey was American East All-Conference Second Team and American East All-Rookie Team. He started all four games at offensive midfield last season before the shutdown.
Another player to look out for is graduate student Michael McCormack. The attackman has 8 goals through two games of play. He had six tallies on Wednesday against UMass Lowell. McCormack played four years of lacrosse at Middlebury College before attending Vermont. There he won All-NESAC, Second-team All-New England, and Third Team All-American in 2018.
The distributor for UVM is attackman David Closterman. The junior has five assists to lead the team. He had a part in six of the 21 Vermont goals against UMass Lowell. He was the American East Rookie of the Year in 2019.
To counter this Catamount attack, Syracuse will have its big guns ready to go. Redshirt junior Brendan Curry has been a menace for SU this season. The midfielder has eight points, seven of which came against Virginia last weekend. He had a career-high four assists in the win, more assists than he had in the five games combined last season. As a result, he was granted ACC Offensive Player of the Week.
On the defensive end, face-off specialist Jacob Phaup has been incredible at the face-off X this season. The redshirt junior is 39 and 22 on draws this season and was 22 for 33 in the win against the Cavaliers. That performance earned him ACC Defensive Player of the Week.
Some other guys who have made an impact early on this season include midfielder Tucker Dordevic, who leads the team with seven goals, attackman Stephen Rehfuss, who leads the team in points with nine, and freshman attacker Owen Hiltz who has 4 goals.
Tune into WAER’s coverage starting at 12:30 pm on Saturday with Countdown to Faceoff.