Syracuse lacrosse’s greatest challenge this season will be to improve a flagging faceoff game that become a huge liability for the Orange last year.
SU won a paltry 42 percent at the X in 2013, and that issue was even more glaring during the Orange’s 16-10 loss to Duke in the NCAA title game. Syracuse lost 21-of-30 faceoffs as Blue Devils faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler completely dominated the six players the Orange shuffled in. Fowler — deservedly so — went on to be named Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
If the Orange has a repeat of that problem this year, it won’t be for lack of trying to correct the problem.
“We may have worked harder in the fall than we have in the last three years put together as far as looking as technique, film and repetition,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said at lacrosse media day on Monday afternoon. “We still have some evaluating to do.”
Desko said that Chris Daddio and Cal Paduda are penciled in for that position, but that could change quickly.
“I wish that was a little more closed, but it’s not,” Desko said. “It’s still an open position.”
Daddio and Paduda are the most logical options for the team given their experience. Daddio, now a senior, was tops on the team last year with 115 faceoff wins while Paduda, a sophomore, won 47 times. Sophomore Austin Wentworth could also see time there, having won 82 percent of faceoffs as a senior at Westhill High School (Conn.), though the walk-on from the club team is a long shot.
Whoever ultimately wins the position will be under a microscope early on as Syracuse faces the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country. Including Syracuse, the ACC features six teams in the top 10: Duke (1), North Carolina (3), Notre Dame (5), Maryland (7) and Virginia (9). The schedule will also include Albany (12), Johns Hopkins (14), St. John’s (16) and Cornell (17).
For Syracuse to have any success, it will need a reliable faceoff game.
“We were 42 percent last year,” Desko said. “We need to get better there.”