After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament unseeded with a 7-5 record, Syracuse lacrosse had a disappointing end to their up-and-down season on Saturday by losing 18-8 to the five-seed Georgetown Hoyas. Here’s what we learned and can reflect on at the conclusion of the season.
POOR DEFENSE, PENALTIES DOOMED THE ORANGE
Sloppy play was the name of the game on Saturday. Syracuse committed 13 turnovers. They had over 8 minutes of penalties on 11 infractions. They were 0 for 2 in man-up situations. All of it added up to a poor showing in a game that many projected to be more competitive than the end product.
“It was just like, stupid penalties I would say,” redshirt junior midfielder Brett Kennedy said. “Our coaches put together a great plan, we just didn’t execute it up to our level.”
Kennedy was visibly upset after a game which was Syracuse’s second-worst margin of defeat in the Tournament, ever.
Syracuse was outscored 5-0 with six minutes to go in the second quarter, and outscored 5-0 outright in the third. “They got off to a great start in the third quarter after we adjusted a little bit in the second, and really started to pull away there,” head coach John Desko said.
OFFENSE FAILS TO CAPITALIZE
The offense had its share of problems as well. Syracuse scored only 8 goals on 33 shots. Their .242 shooting percentage was their fifth-worst of the season and that struggle appeared the game with the biggest stakes. The Orange actually matched the Hoyas going 14 of 28 on faceoffs, but sloppy turnovers ended possessions prematurely on too many occasions.
“We had 13 turnovers today and you can’t give a team like Georgetown that many more opportunities,” Desko said. “They’re just too good, especially offensively, for that to happen.”
Syracuse also failed to capitalize on it’s limited man-up opportunities, going 0 for 2. The offense just couldn’t find a rhythm until Jamie Trimboli’s hat trick in the fourth quarter after the game was far out of reach. The turnovers led to more penalties as well, as Desko explained.
“I was a little surprised we had six penalties from our attackmen, and that had a lot to do with trying to get the ball back and riding, so that was pretty unusual to have that many penalties from your attack.”
A DISAPPOINTING SEASON OF UPS AND DOWNS
Back in February, Syracuse had NCAA Championship aspirations coming off of a Covid-shortened 2020 season in which they went 5-0 and were the top-ranked team in the country.
Now in the middle of May, the Orange is heading home early after a blowout loss in the first round. The 2021 season was feast or famine for the Orange, winning four games by at least eight goals and with all six of their losses coming by at least seven goals. They surrendered 15+ goals six times.
“I think a lot of things went wrong between how we had to deal with things early on, with lack of practice before the season started…that was kind of the start of things,” Desko said. “Then you look at some of our season ending injuries…our situations during the year that we had to deal with team-wise. I think it (was) a combination of things.”
One of the “team-wise situations” Desko was alluding to was certainly the Chase Scanlan allegations, subsequent suspension and arrest last week. Scanlan was the leading scorer on the team at the time of his suspension. His reinstatement by Desko was met with the team captains threatening to walk out of practice if he joined them on the field.
His replacement, Owen Seebold, performed admirably with 10 goals over the four games without Scanlan, but Syracuse was clearly lacking a dynamic scorer of Scanlan’s caliber, scoring a mere 8 goals in two of the four games, and only topping 15 goals once—a 21-14 drubbing of overmatched Robert Morris at the conclusion of the regular season.
Syracuse has now exited in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive tournaments. That, plus the lackluster 2021 season could make for an interesting offseason with the coaching staff, Desko included.
“I’m just hoping we get things behind us and get ready for next year, and do better,” Desko said.