Syracuse men’s lacrosse seeks to turn the tides of March, facing Hofstra for the first time in 20 years
The old weather proverb has always said, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” In that case, March weather and Syracuse Men’s lacrosse might be synonymous. This past weekend the Orange (3-4, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped their fourth straight game, falling below .500 for the first time all season.
On Saturday it was No. 10 Johns Hopkins handing the ‘Cuse another loss 11-9 in the Dome. March truly has been a brutal month for SU, a team that has now lost its first two games in March (a feat that hasn’t happened since the 2006 campaign). But it has been a daunting stretch for Gary Gait’s crew, finishing off a slate of four consecutive bouts with ranked opponents. In the loss, the Orange failed to score in the double digits for the first time since the season opener against Vermont, a 7-5 win over the Catamounts.
Scoring against ranked opponents hadn’t been a major issue for SU before Saturday’s contest. In games against Maryland, UNC, and Duke, the Orange scored 12, 13, and 13, respectively. One guy who didn’t have any issue lighting up the scoreboard was the redshirt sophomore, Owen Hiltz. The Canadian tallied four points behind a three-goal outing, all of the scoring coming in the first half.
Hiltzy Hatty— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 11, 2023
Owen puts away his third of the day, his second hatty of the year.
📊 https://t.co/lF3rbu8XW1#HHH x #LikeNoOther pic.twitter.com/MJFlD8YiDn
Despite the success of Hiltz, Hopkins goalkeeper Tim Marcille stole the show between the pipes. The senior recorded a whopping 21 saves on just nine goals allowed, notching a save percentage of 70%. 15 of those saves came in the first two quarters, ensuring the Blue Jays never got too far behind the Orange.
“You wake up in the morning excited about the opportunity in front of you, you feel good about it and feel like you did all the work necessary to have success,” head coach Gait said postgame. “Then you go out and play an opponent that didn’t let us have our way today.”
For now, ranked opponents seem out of the way. Syracuse sees March coming to a close with three straight unranked foes, the month truly exiting like a lamb. The first opponent to come from the pasture is a fellow Empire State squad, Hofstra (2-4, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association).
This will mark the 17th meeting between Hofstra and Syracuse in men’s lacrosse with the Orange holding a 12-4 advantage in the series. The teams last met in the 2003 season with the Pride earning an 8-6 victory over No.7 Syracuse. The series began back in 1960 in Hempstead with SU earning the first win before Hofstra captured a 7-6 win in 1961 in the second-ever encounter.
To start the 2023 campaign, Hofstra emerged from the gates on a three-game losing skid before picking up back-to-back wins. The Pride then fell back on March 4 to No. 15 Villanova 15-8, snapping a two-game win streak and posting their second-lowest scoring total of the season as a result.
The name to know for Hofstra is sophomore John Madsen. The attackman leads the team in scoring with 19 points on 13 goals and six assists. In the loss to the Wildcats, the Bayville, N.Y. native had a career-best five points on three goals and two assists. At Locust Valley High School, Madsen earned All-County honors and was named to the Newsday Top 100 Long Island boys lacrosse players in 2021.
What a play by John Madsen for the #Hofstra goal! Pride leads, 2-0. #PrideOfLI pic.twitter.com/BDA1WgNry6— Hofstra Men's Lacrosse (@HofstraMLAX) March 4, 2023
Sitting at 18 points on the year, just one behind Madsen, is attackmen, Gerard Kane. The Ohio State transfer is now in his second year with the Pride, leading the team in assists with nine. Last season with Hofstra, the Georgia product was named to the CAA All-Rookie team and was a two-time CAA Rookie of the Week. That same year, the now-sophomore played in all 15 games and made 14 starts at attack, leading the team with 23 goals, 15 assists, and 38 points.
Defensively, the Pride have been middle of the pack in the CAA this season. Hofstra ranks fourth in the conference in Caused Turnovers per Game (8). However, all of the work between pipes can be credited to senior goalkeeper, Mac Gates. The San Franciscan has played every second in goal for the Pride this season and has totaled 67 saves in Hofstra's six games, etching a save percentage of 51%, second-best in the CAA.
17th-year Hofstra head coach, Seth Tierney, has had high praise for his keeper all season. In a 13-12 loss to Navy back in February, Gates racked up 10 saves for the Pride behind a 44% save percentage.
“Mac did a great job in preparing and he bailed the defense out at times that we needed. And, that’s going to happen in lacrosse,” Tierney said after the loss. “People have to bail people out, goalies always bail someone out. So, Mac is about as steady as it goes.”
An opportunity to find the win column again for both teams comes Tuesday down on Long Island. For Syracuse, it strives for its first win over Hofstra since 2001, a game that saw an offensive explosion of 31 goals. The Pride are 1-2 at home this season but aim to win two consecutive games against the ‘Cuse for the first time in the series' history. Game time is at 7 p.m. with WAER’s Coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. with McClurg Team Countdown to Faceoff.