All Eyes on the Faceoff X in Saturday’s Matchup Against Virginia
By Braden Reed
CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. – Syracuse men’s lacrosse is on the road for its first away game of the season, and the tough opponents keep on coming for the Orange. Following a 14-10 loss to No. 1 Maryland last Sunday, SU is set to square off against No. 2 Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Despite the close loss to the Terrapins, head coach Gary Gait was still encouraged with where the team is headed early on in the season.
“If they just can execute and make a play and they go into the game believing that they’re going to win the game, it’ll allow them to not have those lulls where they allow the other team to make runs and pull away from us,” Gait said. “I’m expecting that we’ll learn a lot from this and it’s going to help us for next week.”
Syracuse allowed a 5-0 run from Maryland to open the game on Sunday before fighting all the way back to make it 7-6 at the halftime break. The Terps pulled away in the 4th quarter though, outscoring the Orange 5-2 in the final 15 minutes.
As SU turns its attention to Virginia this week, the matchup at the faceoff X will be the main one to watch. UVA’s Petey LaSalla, one of the top faceoff men in the country, will square off against SU’s Jakob Phaup. LaSalla racked up the preseason awards, including being named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, the Preseason All-ACC team, as well as the Inside Lacrosse, USILA, and USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Second Teams.
The senior boasted an impressive 62% faceoff win rate in 2021, good for third in the ACC. But despite LaSalla’s overall mark being higher than Phaup’s last season, Phaup dominated the matchup in two games last year. In the first time around, he won 67% of the faceoffs, which led to Syracuse grabbing a 20-10 upset win. The second game was when Phaup really shined, winning 15 out of 16 matchups before LaSalla was benched in the third quarter. SU went on to win that game 13-11.
Throughout the rest of 2021, the theme for the Orange was pretty straightforward: the team goes as Phaup goes. SU was 6-1 in games that he finished with a win percentage over 50%, and 1-5 in games when he was below that mark. At times over the course of the season, he was replaced by Danny Varello when the losses were piling up for him.
Phaup has answered the bell so far this season, winning 83% of his draws in the opener against Holy Cross and 53% in the loss to Maryland. If the theme holds true from last season, Jakob Phaup’s success at the faceoff X will play a pivotal role in the game against Virginia this Saturday.