Syracuse men’s lacrosse picks up its first ranked win of the season over No. 15 Princeton
Syracuse men’s lacrosse (7-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) traveled to New Jersey and beat No. 15 Princeton (4-5, 2-1 Ivy League) on Saturday afternoon 16-13.
SU has been plagued by slow starts this season, but it came out with its hair on fire this weekend. Junior midfielder Saam Olexo got the scoring started early for the Orange when he found the back of the net 15 seconds into the game. From there, ‘Cuse would score six more goals in the period and end the first quarter up 6-3
The primary catalyst for the Orange’s early success was sophomore faceoff specialist Jack Fine. Before Saturday, Syracuse had the seventh worst faceoff win percentage in the nation before Saturday, but the Long Island native won eight of ten faceoffs in the opening frame to set the tone for SU.
LISTEN: After Jack Fine won the opening faceoff of the game, longstick midfielder Saam Olexo picked up the ground ball and rushed down the field to bury the first goal of the day. @bespector had the call.— WAER Sports (@WAERSports) April 8, 2023
🎙️@waer883, https://t.co/BG0Q3sGq3P pic.twitter.com/Tpxnh4SEfi
In addition to the ‘Cuse finding new successes, it also continued doing well in the areas it has dominated all year long. Freshman Joey Spallina, who is first nationwide in man-up goals, scored with the advantage against Princeton in the second quarter. The freshman phenom finished with a whopping four goals in the half for his sixth hat-trick of the season
“I think today was just a full product of what we can do offensively and as a team,” said Spallina postgame.
The Tigers did find their footing later in the period and went on a 3-0 run. But the Orange rebounded with back-to-back goals in the final 1:15 of the half to take a 12-9 lead into the locker room.
After the intermission, SU opened up the scoring once again with a goal courtesy of grad-senior Cole Kirst. Yet, ‘Cuse would get outscored 3-4 in the frame, following a pair of scores from Princeton’s Coulter Mackesy and Tommy Barnds in the waning minutes of the third. Mackesy, the Tigers’ leading scorer, had three goals on the day to reach 33 for the year – good for top-15 in America. However, the star sophomore’s big day wouldn’t be enough.
SU entered the fourth period with a 15-13 advantage and held down the fort from there. The first 45 minutes of the contest had fireworks left and right, but the final 15 were defined by defense. The Orange and the Tigers combined for 21 shots in the quarter, and only one resulted in a goal (Finn Thomson with 14 minutes remaining).
Syracuse’s Will Mark and Princeton’s Michael Gianforcaro put on a clinic with four saves a piece in the frame, though it would be Mark who got the last laugh. The former LIU standout topped off his impressive 17-save outing with a miraculous stop late in the game to secure the Orange’s first win against a ranked opponent this season.
“I’ve wanted a save like that for so long,” said Mark. “And today I made that [acrobatic] save.”
SU finally got the monkey off its back with the victory over Princeton, but have another difficult matchup next weekend against No. 9 North Carolina (7-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). The Tar Heels beat the Orange 19-13 back in February, so Gary Gait’s squad has a chance to get revenge on Saturday at 4. WAER’s coverage begins with McClurg Team Countdown to Faceoff starting at 3:30 pm.