Orange Watch: Rounding into form on the field, Syracuse lacrosse trending upward in polls

Syracuse lost for just the second time this season
Senior attack Jordan Evans is the fourth leading scorer for the No. 2 ranked Orange.

Item: Coming off the season’s latest one goal game, last weekend’s road win over previously top ranked Notre Dame, Syracuse (7-1, 3-0) begins a busy stretch of three games in ten days on Wednesday night at longtime upstate rival Hobart (7:00 p.m. ET / Spectrum Sports), and next week there’s a visit by fellow upstate neighbor Cornell to the Dome, followed by the final ACC regular season game at North Carolina on April 15.  The seven straight one goal games, but emerging with a subsequent 6-1 record in those back-and-forth contests, exemplifies how tough the Orange have developed at both ends of the field with a defense getting tighter by the game, so many talented offensive weapons playing a most deliberate, crisp passing style, along with steady, veteran play in goal. 

Just past the midway point, it’s turning out to be one of the more unusual recent seasons in Div. I lacrosse.  There are not-so-common names like Penn State and even Rutgers among the eight schools who have claimed the top ranking in either the coaches or media poll over the first eight weeks, with the surprising and undefeated Nittany Lions currently occupying the top spot just ahead of the surging second-ranked Orange.

Even the vaunted ACC has seen some change with the majority of its teams struggling, highlighted by defending national champion and preseason No. 1 UNC sitting with a .500 overall record, and Duke and Virginia ranked 10th and 12th, respectively.

» Related: Narrow margins, solid defense have Syracuse lacrosse off to good start

It’s SU which has moved into first place in the conference by virtue of the ever-so-close win over the Irish, holding off two late ND offensive possessions in the final minute to get the job done for the sixth straight game featuring a nerve-wracking finish.

“It’s another win under our belt,” senior midfielder Sergio Salcido casually downplayed following his five point (1-4) performance in the 11-10 win over ND.  “The next couple of weeks will really shape us up heading into the postseason.  It (also) shows how hard we work during the week; those are the things that go unnoticed (on game day).”

This year’s team has again looked to the scoring of veteran middies Salcido, and Nick Mariano, and attackmen Jordan Evans and Nate Solomon, along with new names like Denver transfer Brendan Bomberry and attackmen Brad Voigt and Stephen Rehfuss.

“We’ve been talking all year long, and I think we were still trying to figure out who we were,” head coach John Desko said last weekend.

“I think we’ve got that first midfield pegged pretty well right now.  The attack, we’re running three, four, five attackmen, it is a good thing to keep them fresh, and each guy does something different than the other guy.  I think we know who we are right now.”

Defensively, newcomers Andrew Helmer and Marcus Cunningham have joined ACC player of the week and converted long stick middie Scott Firman in patrolling the net in front of goalie Evan Molloy.   Molloy has been steady (8.88 goals against average), bending but not breaking in most opportunities with the game’s outcome was on the line

“The fact that we’ve been in a lot of these one goal games, we haven’t panicked it seems like in the fourth quarter of these games,” Desko said.  “I’m not sure I like being in all of the one goal games, but if we’re going to come out on top I’ll take it.”

For more Syracuse coverage, Like our Facebook page and follow us @TheJuiceOnline.

Avatar photo
About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.