Fall ball lacrosse provides glimpse into 2016 Syracuse team

Kevin Rice Celebration Duke

Syracuse must replace Kevin Rice, among others

Syracuse lacrosse fans got a quick peek at the new-look Orange during fall ball over the past two weeks and just how Coach John Desko will replace roughly 60 percent of the team’s scoring from 2015.

Gone are two starting attackmen—Kevin Rice and Randy Staats—and the entire first-line midfield—Nicky Galasso, Henry Schoonmaker and Hakeem Lecky. Among others, gone too are goalie Bobby Wardwell, defender Sean Young and long-stick middie Peter Macartney.

To recap, the 2016 Orange will be missing (in career stats):

  • Rice: 96 goals, 126 assists
  • Staats: 62 goals, 47 assists (in two years)
  • Galasso: 49 goals, 13 assists (in two years)
  • Schoonmaker: 55 goals, 13 assists
  • Lecky: 46 goals, 12 assists
  • Wardwell: 342 saves, 9.38 goals against average
  • Young: 50 ground balls, 29 caused turnovers
  • Macartney: 126 ground balls, 18 caused turnovers

That’s a lot of goals, assists, saves, ground balls, caused turnovers and experience.

The fall ball scrimmages against a group of alumni all-stars, Navy and Towson gave us some clues into how Desko will fill the holes when the team takes form in early 2016.

Frequently joining senior Dylan Donahue on attack were junior Jordan Evans, No. 22, who may be making the switch from middie, and junior Nick Mariano, a transfer from UMass who has 81 career points and can play attack or mid. Also competing for positions on attack: senior Tim Barber, a frequent contributor on 2015’s second midfield line and fill-in on attack; and transfer Nick Piroli, a graduate of Brown with a year of eligibility remaining who notched 86 points in 46 games for the Ivy League team.

» Related: Syracuse lacrosse head coach John Desko stands out among coaching peers

Whoever doesn’t team up with Donahue on attack will likely form the basis for the first midfield line.

More importantly, someone will need to takeover Rice’s quarterback role on offense. Donahue, who has 114 goals and 52 assists in his career, has always been able to find the net. But who will find Donahue?

Meanwhile, senior Warren Hill should have the inside track on the starting goalie position. Hill split some time last year with Wardwell, seeing action in six games and recording 20 saves and a 13.26 goals against average. Hill may face competition from and form a timeshare—a favorite tactic of Desko in recent years—with redshirt junior Evan Molloy and Dominick Madonna.

With Brandon Mullins and Jay McDermott returning, Desko has an easier job of finding one more for the defensive trio. Senior Ralph D’Agostino has seen significant time the past two years and could be the guy to fill the role.

We’re just a few short months away from discovering how Desko will position the 2016 team on the quest to end a six-year title drought. Winter practices can’t come soon enough.

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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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