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.
Take a look at the latest roster.
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).
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.
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.
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.