What, exactly, do we make of the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team halfway through this 2013 season?
On the surface, a 5-2 record looks good. The Orange have had quality, consecutive wins over Virginia, St. John’s and Johns Hopkins, but it’s also had frustrating losses—the season opener at home against Albany and this past Saturday at Villanova.
After a disappointing effort against the Great Danes, it seemed the team was destined for another season like last year’s 9-8 squad that struggled to make the postseason and fell to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But the team responded with five straight victories before falling to the Wildcats.
Syracuse was done in on Saturday when it went 2-of-24 in faceoffs. It brought back painful memories of the team’s struggles at the X last year. Coach John Desko tried experienced specialist Chris Daddio (2-of-14), freshman Brendan Conroy (0-for-8) and even defenseman Brian Megill (0-for-2) to no avail.
The Wildcats’ Thomas Croonquist simply dominated the day. If not for his success—he won all 13 draws in the second half—Syracuse might have escaped Philadelphia with a win.
We’ve seen some good, better and bad out of the Orange so far. Its two losses were against clubs that are currently a combined 6-8. Meanwhile, its five wins were against teams that are currently a combined 27-14.
- Midfielder JoJo Marasco, owner of the No. 22 jersey and the team’s senior leader, is putting together another solid season with 7 goals and 17 assists.
- On attack, sophomore Kevin Rice, junior Derek Maltz and redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue are getting the job done. They’ve tallied a combined 43 points.
- Desko seems to have found his man in the net. Junior goalie Dominic Lamolinara took his second straight start against Villanova. Despite allowing 11 goals, he also tallied 12 saves, a career best.
- The team is built on its defense, which has been much stronger since suffering a let down during the opener against Albany by allowing 16 goals. In four of the team’s wins, it held opponents to fewer than 10 goals. The unit has to continue its solid play.
- The woes at the faceoff X must improve. Syracuse is collecting 41 percent of its draws. The team percentage took a serious hit on Saturday. Against the better opponents, it has to do better. It certainly can’t hope to win many games while getting shutout at the X for an entire half.
The team has winnable games remaining against Canisius (1-6) Friday, Rutgers (2-6) April 13, Hobart (4-4) April 16 and Georgetown (3-5) April 20. But it also faces three more stiff tests: at Princeton (5-2) April 6, versus Cornell (7-1) April 10 and against Notre Dome (6-1) in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., to end the regular season.
If Syracuse can continue the good, keep up the better and improve the bad, the team should be in position to make a run to the playoffs.