Brad Kotz is one of Syracuse’s legends in lacrosse. The midfielder was a four-time All-American NCAA lacrosse player from 1982 to 1985 and led the Orangemen to its first NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship in 1983.
After Syracuse, he was a member of the ILF World Champion US squads for the 1986 and 1990 World Lacrosse Championships and in 2001 he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He currently is a Principal at the real estate investment firm, Seneca Properties, Inc. in Maryland.
We recently spoke with Brad about his experiences at Syracuse and got his take on the 2012 team.
The Juice Online: What do you remember about that 1983 Championship game against Johns Hopkins that catapulted Syracuse lacrosse into the elite?
Brad Kotz: Going into that game, we didn’t have a lot of pressure on us. We were the underdog. I think the first half, most of the members of our team felt that we were playing better than the score had indicated. I know we had a bunch of fastbreaks we didn’t convert. At halftime, we sensed that we were playing better than this and wondered, ‘What’s going on? Why isn’t this game closer?'” The second half, everyone came out fired up and it was a very tight game. It was 10 or 11 players from my high school. We all played together, we all knew each other. Everyone was like, ‘Let’s go get this.'” It was a very tight team that year. The emotions were on the surface and everyone was feeling the same thing. The second half, we got a little momentum and we rode it.
TJO: Did you realize the significance of the win at the time and expect that Syracuse would go on this incredible run?
BK: My knowledge of Division I lacrosse centered around the fact that North Carolina and Johns Hopkins were the two teams to beat. We had a lot to prove to the world. I definitely didn’t think that Syracuse would go on that run that it did going forward. We were just riding high. After the game, I didn’t think any of us had the prospective in mind that it was going to set the tone for the next 30 years. We surprised a lot of people. I think we surprised the lacrosse world. Even though we had won, we had a lot to prove. We went out in that next regular season and earned our way back to the championship game. We came up against a formidable opponent again. It’s always harder to repeat. They jumped all over us that next time. We weren’t on the map yet. By the third appearance in the finals, at that point we were recognized as being one of the elite teams.
TJO: You ended up an an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania while you were getting your MBA. Penn ended up playing Syracuse that year at the Dome and losing a tough game. What was that like?
BK: It was an interesting feeling for sure. When you’re coaching, you’re coaching. Penn had never made it that far, and it was a tie ball game with less than a minute left. Paul Gait scored on an incredible shot to win the game at the end for Syracuse. It was difficult to be on the Penn sideline, but by the same token, it was sweet inside that we lost to Syracuse and not another team.
TJO: What do you think is happening with the team this year?
BK: Some of what I see is a carry over from last year. The faceoff circle has been a problem for two straight seasons. But I know they’ve got a bunch of talented players and they’re working on finding the right combination and the right chemistry. The team hasn’t found its identity yet. Our teams back in the 80s, so many of us had played together for so long. Through the 90s, they had such incredible lacrosse players that they never missed a beat. But by the same token, I’ll say this, there is more parity in lacrosse then there ever has been before. There are many more great players that are getting recruited by great programs and the level of play has risen over the last few decades. I think you’re going to continue to see more evenly matched teams. The day of someone going undefeated is going to be harder to come by this decade.