Syracuse coach Gary Gait and various members of the 2023 men’s lacrosse team met with reporters on Monday for media day. Here are three key takeaways on what happened.
#1 This is Gary Gait’s team
While Gary Gait was head coach of the 2022 Syracuse lacrosse team, he inherited a roster consisting mostly of players recruited by a different coaching staff. While that reason was not the sole cause of Syracuse’s first 10-game losing season in program history, it didn’t appear to help. With an entire recruiting cycle to bring in his own players, including the No. 1 overall recruit in the class, Joey Spallina, this is Gait’s first roster that he’s had a chance to mold. “It was a group of players that had a different coaching staff,” Gait said. “This year, we’re communicating really well with the players and they communicate well with us. We’ve set our standards for the program and these guys are happy with them.”
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#2 Syracuse is (mostly) healthy
Perhaps the primary reason for Syracuse’s struggles last year were injuries. At any given time, Syracuse was playing with an injury list consistently in the double-digits. While the season hasn’t started yet, the only player on the injury list is freshman defenseman Riley Figueiras, who is out for the season with a lower body injury. Otherwise, Gait said his team was healthy, including attackman Owen Hiltz, who missed the entire 2022 season after a freshman season where he was named a USILA Honorable Mention All-American. Gait mentioned the use of GPS trackers on players to limit the workload on their bodies to prevent injuries. “Last year, looking up and down the lineup and seeing 15, 20 guys on the injured list, we needed to do something better,” Gait said. “We’re in pretty good shape right now. We’ve really focused on reducing our injuries.”
#3 The schedule is more forgiving
Another major change this season is the strength of schedule. In 2022, Syracuse faced 10 ranked opponents in its 14 games, including four straight opponents ranked inside the top 15 to close the season in what Gait described as a “gauntlet.” While Syracuse will certainly play its fair share of tough opponents in 2023, especially once ACC play starts, the Orange also mixed in mid-major opponents in the beginning (Vermont, Albany, Holy Cross) and midpoints (Hofstra, St. Bonaventure, Hobart) of the season. “This is the first time I actually put the schedule together,” Gait said. “It’s aligned to what we wanted for our team. Last year we just had tough game after tough game, and we mixed it up.”