Item: After allowing themselves a mulligan following the opening game hiccup against Colgate, the Syracuse lacrosse team, sitting uncustomary at No. 20 in the polls last week, righted its ship Saturday against another pesky upstate non-conference rival Albany. The 13-5 domination of the No. 14 ranked Great Danes is exactly the right tonic for momentum with five more consecutive home games against strong teams on deck.
The expected harsh reaction from the world of Orange Nation lacrosse fans following the “no excuses” defeat to a better prepared Colgate team in the opener on Feb. 8, also had us wondering exactly where the program is headed in the new shot clock era and the recruiting evolution that has deposited talent more evenly to schools all over the country.
Make no mistake; Syracuse lacrosse has plenty of talent and as good a coaching staff in as any among the major Div. I programs. But there are 15 other teams in practically the same situation, and a change in how financial aid is allotted to athletes at Ivy League and similar conferences means plenty of great players are not wearing Orange.
As to those that are playing for John Desko in his 21st season, there are a number of offensive weapons on attack and midfield starting with seniors Bradley Voigt and Nate Solomon, junior Jamie Trimboli and sophomore Brendan Curry. Voigt’s dazzling six goals led to the rout over UA Saturday, as he showcased a laser beam shot after being deftly set up by his teammates.
“I think we are definitely more comfortable running our offense right now,” Voigt said after becoming the first ‘Cuse player to score six goals in a game since Dylan Donahue tallied seven times against Notre Dame in 2015. “I’m not much of a dodger so I’m a product of the guys dodging around me, so all credit to the (other) offensive guys who helped me get open today.”
The solid trio of starting defensemen fifth year senior Marcus Cunningham, senior Tyson Bomberry, and redshirt junior Nick Mellen, along with junior goalie Drake Porter, turned the Great Danes inside-out, from giving up 15 goals in a 15-3 Dome loss a year ago, to just five goals this time around.
“Our communication was a lot better this week (after Colgate),” Bomberry explained after the stifling performance against Albany. “Our whole defense this past week was stressing on being on the same page and following our game plan.”
Staying even-keeled has been Desko’s trademark running a consistently winning program that he’s one year away from overseeing for four decades. The crowd calling for a coaching change was out in full force after the Colgate loss, but was quieted down by the domination of a higher-ranked Albany team, and the reality that the program is in fine hands.
“When you lose a game (Colgate) and you watch the film, all the mistakes just come to the surface,” Desko said following SU’s 240th win inside the Dome since 1981. “When you win a game, you look at some of your mistakes and you (think) we should work on that a little bit more. But they’re not as glaring as when you lose.”
What has been glaring to Orange lax fans is lack of success in post season play; no Final Four appearances since 2013, and like basketball it’s all about how you fare in the NCAA Tournament. With all but three of the remaining 12 teams on the schedule ranked in the Top 20, this year’s Orange figures to be well-tested by May when it’s time to do the heavy lifting to win two games and reach the Final Four.