In the season opener in head coach Gary Gait’s second campaign with the Orange, Syracuse held off defending American East champion Vermont, 7-5.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
#1: A streaky Orange offense gains momentum late in win
Syracuse struggled to find the back of the net in the first and third quarters, as the Orange was shut out in the first quarter, and failed to score for the first 14 minutes of the third. But SU produced just enough scoring in streaks, as they scored three goals in the three minutes of the second quarter to take a 4-1 lead into halftime, and scored the game’s final three goals to pull away. Owen Hiltz’s goal with 7:14 to go proved to be the final margin. “The game plan is to give everyone opportunities if we move the ball,” Gait said. “We want to put ourselves in a position where we are used to scoring. We will do a better job finishing. We will.”
#2: Syracuse steps up defensively in low-scoring affair
Similar to the Orange offense, Vermont came at Syracuse in spurts. In the third quarter, the Catamounts scored four unanswered goals, three of them coming in less than a two minute span, as Jonas Hunter scored twice and Brock Haley’s goal with 4:43 left in the third gave Vermont a 5-4 lead. For a majority of the game, however, the Orange defense was effective. The Catamounts had just 18 shots on goal and had 21 turnovers, while SU goalie Will Mark stopped 13 shots. “He bailed us out a couple of times,” defenseman Nick Caccamo said about Mark. “He played a phenomenal game and we owe a lot to him.”
#3: Orange show signs of inexperience in opener
It’s no secret that this is one of the more inexperienced teams in recent memory. Of the 10 starters who took the field for the Orange on Saturday, only two of them—Mark, a senior, and attackman Alex Simmons, a graduate student—are upperclassmen. Syracuse signed 15 freshmen heading into 2023, including No. 1 recruit Joey Spallina, who scored during his first game in the Dome. As a result, the Orange looked disjointed at time and simply in need of playing more together. “I think we all bring something different to the table,” Spallina said. “As time goes on we will start to gel even better. But for our first game to come out with a win is big.”