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No. 14 Syracuse Looks to Bounce Back against No. 13 Army

Syracuse attack Tucker Dordevic works around the Virginia defense. The redshirt junior tallied just one goal in the game after recording five in his first two contests of the season.

Syracuse men’s lacrosse’s tough schedule has already taken its toll. Following back-to-back losses to the top two teams in the country, the Orange sit at 1-2 for the first time since 2007. Unfortunately, the ranked opponents keep on coming in — No.14 SU is gearing up to take on No. 13 Army. The last time the Orange took on the Black Knights, disaster struck; Army came into the Dome and whooped Syracuse 18-11.

Contrary to what one might expect, Syracuse had a fantastic start to the contest. The Orange outscored the Black Knights 6-1 to start the game, and it looked like SU would coast to a 1-0 start. But it was all downhill from there. Army outscored the ‘Cuse 17-5 the rest of the way.

Nichtern’s Impact

You can’t talk about Army’s offensive firepower without talking about Brendan Nichtern. The senior attack leads the Black Knights with 13 goals and 17 assists.

“Last year, (Brett) Kennedy covered Nichtern, he (Nichtern) was very aware of him (Kennedy),” Black Knights Head Coach Joe Alberici explained. “We’ll be ready for something along those lines, for them to leave a defender out on an island with him and say, ‘if he scores goals he scores goals, but we’re not gonna let him have five assists’.”

Syracuse defenseman Brett Kennedy (11) defends Brendan Nichtern (20) in last year’s Syracuse-Army game. Nichtern tallied four goals and three assists in the contest.

Nichtern made his presence felt in last year’s showdown. He led the team with seven points on four goals, two of which came on the man-up, and three assists.

A Brick Wall in Net

The goalie play in last year’s SU-Army battle was solid; Syracuse’s Drake Porter and Army’s Wyatt Schupler both recorded 13 saves. Only one of those netminders will see the field on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Orange fans, Schupler is back, and he is red-hot. The senior has saved over 60% of the shots he’s faced and recorded 15+ saves in two of Army’s four contests thus far.

“Wyatt’s gonna have to be at the top of his game,” Alberici said.“Last year we didn’t do a great job supporting him, but he started to make some saves. He’s clearly gonna be huge on Wednesday, and if we’re gonna go where we want to go, you’ve got the ride the back of a really good goaltender.”

The Other Net

As for the Orange’s situation in cage, despite Porter’s departure, Bobby Gavin has held his own in goal this year. The UVA transfer recorded 12 saves against his old squad on Saturday, a season high.

Syracuse goalie Bobby Gavin prepares to face Virginia’s offense. The UVA transfer had a season-high 12 saves against the Cavaliers.

That being said, there was also a season high in goals allowed. Gavin’s former teammates showed no mercy, pouring 20 goals on the netminder. Nonetheless, Gavin has impressed many to start the season.

Out of Nowhere

In a game full of stormy clouds for the Orange, a ray of sunshine still shone through: Griffin Cook. The sophomore midfielder did not score in either of SU’s first two contests, but against the Cavaliers, Cook recorded his second career hat trick.

However, with that came a down day for Tucker Dordevic. The midfielder-turned-attack scored just one goal against the Cavaliers after recording five in each of the first two contests.

The Road Ahead

Army is the third consecutive ranked opponent Syracuse faces. Seven more will come later as the season rolls on. Six of those seven are against teams currently ranked in the top-10. Barring a team falling out of the top-25, Syracuse will have played 10 ranked matchups by the end of the regular season. The Orange are off to an 0-2 start in those games. Like every other sport, momentum is everything, and SU must start to build some against Army before the pressure really begins to mount.