This is not how many would have guessed the Syracuse lacrosse season would have unfolded.
Nine games into the season, the Orange own a 6-3 record and ranked eighth in the country. Following early season losses to Albany, Johns Hopkins and Rutgers, there were concerns over the direction of the the team. Now, it has four wins over top ten teams, and is riding a three-game winning streak.
At the center of Syracuse’s success has been redshirt sophomore Stepehen Rehfuss. At the beginning of the season, he did not have the name-recognition of several other Syracuse starters. He almost seems to want to stay that way.
“I think it was just being in the right place at the right time,” Rehfuss said following his five-point performance against Hobart.
His showing helped the Orange retain the Kraus-Simmons Trophy.
It certainly has to do with a lot more than just timing. While Rehfuss has proven excellent at feeding his teammates at opportune moments to score, this was the third time this season he has tallied five points in a game. That does not happen by accident.
“Everyone’s just excited to play…especially [a game] like this with such a tradition,” Rehfuss said.
An easy way to understand Rehfuss’ importance to Syracuse on offense would be to point out that he leads the team in assists and sits third in goals. Overall, he leads the team in points. However, his impact stretches beyond that.
Rehfuss has been remarkably consistent this season. He has scored a goal and tallied an assist in all but one game this season, the one being the woeful blowout against Albany.
Rehfuss is the reliable solution for Syracuse when it needs to jump start the offense. He proved to be so again against Hobart with two fourth quarter goals to restore confidence for ‘Cuse.
“He let me breathe a little bit at that point,” said Head Coach John Desko of Rehfuss notching his two final-period strikes.
While it definitely feels a bit surprising to see Rehfuss become the offensive talisman, rather than Nate Solomon or Brendan Bomberry, perhaps it could have been predicted. After all, the Latham, New York native did score the game-winner over Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. He also followed that up by tallying a career-high four assists against Towson.
The attackman certainly showed flashes of brilliance last season, and now seems to be consistently providing the Orange with someone to run the offense through; a person to quarterback the attack, so to speak.
“He runs the offense very well,” Desko said. “He knows where to be and when to be there.”