Syracuse lacrosse’s summer of despair nearly over

Class is in session, Syracuse lacrosse fall ball is near and the 2015 season is just a few snowstorms away.

That means Orange fans are that much closer to having something tangible to help them forget the shocking 10-9 loss as a No. 2 seed to Bryant at the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Syracuse is returning one of the country’s best attack units, a deep midfield and a fairly experienced back line. Gone are Billy Ward, Scott Loy, Matt Harris, Derek Maltz and Dominic Lamolinara, but none may be more missed than Chris Daddio, who transformed from a weakness to a strength over the course of the season.

FaceoffND1

Syracuse struggled last year at the X

Take a look at the latest roster.

Attack
Though the team bade farewell to Derek Maltz (14 goals, nine assists) to graduation and brother Dylan Maltz (3 g, 1 a), a sophomore transfer to Maryland, it returns top-point scorers Kevin Rice (36 g, 44 a), Dylan Donahue (37 g, 17 a) and Randy Staats (33 g, 23 a).

Midfield
Ward (18 g, 8 a), the team’s top scoring midfielder, and Loy (13 g, 8 a) provided versatility, leadership and physicality, but several threats return too. Nicky Galasso (13 g, 4 a), Hakeem Lecky (15 g, 2 a) and Henry Schoonmaker (14 g, 3 a) figure to form the team’s top line, but it’ll also have sophomores Jordan Evans (Mr. No. 22), Nick Weston and Hayes McGinley.

» Related: Syracuse men’s lacrosse fans: Time to adjust to sport’s competitive landscape

Defense and goalkeeping
Harris anchored the team’s close defense, but shutdown defender Brandon Mullins, Sean Young and Jay McDermott return. Goalie Lamolinara stopped 48.6 percent of opposing shots, but his timeshare partner Bobby Wardwell, who saved 51.3 percent, is favored to take over the job full time. Sophomore Parker Ferrigan could challenge for the spot or work his way into a timeshare with Wardwell.

Faceoff
Daddio’s strong second half of the season boosted his faceoff winning percentage to a solid 50.4. Assistant coach Kevin Donahue helped Daddio improve considerably at the X in 2014, and he’ll need to work his magic on Joe DeMarco (38.5 percent) and Cal Paduda (42.3 percent) to help reverse what’s been one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in recent years.

Shortly after the 2014 campaign wrapped, Lacrosse magazine ranked the 2015 Orange No. 3, behind Denver and Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Syracuse.com put the team at No. 6, citing the strong attack but questions marks at defense, goalie and faceoff.

Coach John Desko will have much to consider as he prepares the team for its next campaign. The Orange should score plenty, but it will need to build upon its defense, goalkeeping and faceoffs if it hopes to capture its 12th title and first since 2009.

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Dan Brannigan

About Dan Brannigan

Dan is currently the editor of Common Ground magazine for Community Associations Institute (CAI) where he has won an Association Media & Publishing award for newswriting. Dan has also won a New England Press Association award while working for the The Inquirer and Mirror in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he grew up. Dan is a 2005 Syracuse University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @djbranni.
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