The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team made a surprising run to the 2013 national championship game thanks to a patient, constantly improving offense, a staunch defense and senior leadership.
Good news for Orange fans: The team lost only six key players to graduation; it returns a bevy of offensive talent and quality goalies; and it’ll be stocking up in key areas.
The 2013 team entered this season with modest expectations, but fought hard to reach the title game for the first time since 2009. The 2014 version is likely to face high expectations from the start—even with a move to the ultra-competitive ACC.
Let’s take a look at who’s out, who’s back and who’s coming.
- JoJo Marasco, captain, No. 22, First-team All America, team points leader, 24 goals, 42 assists, go-to offensive creator
- Brian Megill, captain, Second-team All America, 55 ground balls, 25 caused turnovers, defensive anchor
- Dave Hamlin, 27 ground balls, 26 caused turnovers, shut-down defender
- Luke Cometti, 34 goals, 9 assists, team goal leader
- Steve Ianzito, 45 ground balls, short-stick defensive midfield
- Matt Pratt, short-stick defensive midfield
- Attack: The Orange return its top four attackmen, including Derek Maltz (32 g, 7 a), a 2013 team captain and a tremendous off-ball player. Behind-the-goal specialist Kevin Rice (23 g, 32 a), Dylan Donahue (27 g, 14 a) and Billy Ward (11 g, 5 a) also return.
- Midfield: Scott Loy (20 g, 4 a) is the only top-line middie coming back, but he should have plenty of talent joining him, including Henry Schoonmaker (18 g, 5 a) and Hakeem Lecky (8 g, 1 a).
- Not to be forgotten is Nicky Galasso, the former North Carolina star, who was granted a medical redshirt after an injury in the preseason. Galasso, the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school and ACC rookie of the year in 2011, was expected to be a major contributor in 2013.
- Defense: Rising junior Sean Young and Brandon Mullins return to close defense. Young and Mullins both received time with Megill and Hamlin. Mullins started the season, but tore his ACL against Virginia. Rising sophomores Ryan Palasek and Bobby Tait, who played on the team’s man-down unit, are likely to compete for on-ball defense.
- Goalie Dominic Lamolinara showed some great strides in the net in 2013, turning a timeshare with Bobby Wardwell into a full-time role. Lamolinara, who will be a senior, ended 2013 with a .526 saves percentage and 8.65 goals against average in 16 contests. It’s Lamolinara’s job to lose, but Wardwell has the experience to step in if need be.
- Faceoffs: Syracuse returns the trio—Chris Daddio, Cal Paduda and Brendan Conroy—that took nearly all of the draws at the X in 2013. The group struggled at times throughout the season, especially the national title game, but another year of experience could lead to significant improvement.
The Orange recruiting class features six All-Americas, including middie/attack Jordan Evans (Jamesville-DeWitt, N.Y.), goalie Parker Ferrigan (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), long-stick middie Scott Firmin (Jamesville-DeWitt, N.Y.), middie J.T. Forkin (Long Beach, N.Y.), attack Dylan Maltz (Stone Bridge, Va.), brother to Derek, and middie Nick Weston (Salisbury, Conn.).
Evans may just be the next player to wear No. 22. He helped lead Jamesville-DeWitt to back-to-back New York State Class B titles in 2010 and 2011. He notched 99 assists and 180 points, tops in Section III, this season.
It’s way too early, but a return to the national championship game shouldn’t be all that surprising if—and it’s a big if—the Orange can survive the gauntlet that will be the ACC. The team will have plenty of offensive power and could return to an up-tempo, high-scoring offense after a few years of defensive dominance. It’ll need to win a few more faceoffs too.