Favorite Moments from a Season Cut Short
By Noah Cierzan
CitrusTV’s Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
Just a week ago, I was in Baltimore covering a decisive 15-9 victory over Johns Hopkins as Syracuse moved to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 2016. The Orange seemingly had no weak spot on the team and were destined to compete for their first National Championship in a decade.
Fast forward a week and the ‘COVID-19’ virus has touched and taken over everyone’s lives. The Corona Virus was labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, and since then the virus has completely stopped the sporting world in its tracks. All five major sporting leagues have postponed or canceled events, and the NCAA was forced to cancel March Madness.
This extended to the Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse team, whose season has been put on pause after the Atlantic Coastal Conference announced all spring athletic competitions amidst the week’s events.
“It was literally like someone had passed,” Head Coach John Desko said on Brent Axe’s ‘On the Block’ radio show. “Guys, especially the seniors, were looking so forward to the season, and now come to the realization that they might not have one.”
I think I can safely speak for those who covered the team for CitrusTV, including the other beat reporters for the team Cameron Macaulay and Nick Kuzma, in saying that the seasons postponement was devastating. There is a plethora of extremely talented players on Syracuse’s squad, and covering the team has been a special experience. Some things are bigger than sports, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept the current situation.
I have always been a believer in looking at the positive side of things, and while I can’t cover games in this trying time, I can still look back at the great start the Orange have got off to this season. So, without out further a do I present this season’s top moments (so far).
5. Peter Dearth Truck Stick
Highlight: @PeterDearth is 6'3" 220 Lbs.
Binghamton's Sal Ienna is 5'7" 165 Lbs
You can guess exactly how it went when one guarded the other…
— Cameron Macaulay (@CJMacaulay) February 15, 2020
This play is just one example of what Syracuse was doing to start the season; steamrolling over teams. In this case it was the anchor of John Desko’s defense, especially after Nick Mellen got injured in the season opener against Colgate.
Dearth was one of many seniors that made the 2020 roster so special and brought together a defensive unit comprised of guys who had never started before. The preseason Inside Lacrosse All-American collected 11 groundballs in only four games and helped lead a defense that allowed only 9.5 goals per game.
He also scored two goals this season, the aforementioned one against Binghamton and another against Colgate.
Charging into the week like… 🚂🚂
Binghamton visits the Dome on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Udli6iqF7L
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 9, 2020
It’s safe to say you don’t want to get in between Peter Dearth and the goal.
4. Retaining the Kraus-Simmons Trophy
This program has always been about family. Earned out first piece of hardware of the year with the Kraus-Simmons trophy staying home.
Back to work to fight for more trophies. pic.twitter.com/cqZvT8Qqi6
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 3, 2020
Syracuse welcomed in longtime rival Hobart into the Dome having just moved into the number three spot in the rankings. On top of that this was the last game the Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse team was going to play under the Dome roof.
The Orange rose to the occasion by putting on an offensive clinic against the Statesman and securing the 21-13 victory. The 21 goals tied a season-high for ‘Cuse, and the game also helped showcase arguably SU’s biggest strength: the midfield.
#NCAALAX Plays of the Week 🥍
1️⃣ | Dordevic through the spincycle!! 🔄 @CuseMLAX’s Tucker Dordevic scored his fifth goal of the day while falling to his knees to win over Hobart. pic.twitter.com/xfJVDWFncz
— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAALAX) March 4, 2020
The Curry-Dordevic-Trimboli combo combined for 12 goals against Hobart, and as seen by Dordevic’s goal, they did it with style. The three headed monster posed problems for other teams all season, because when you have six guys who are legit scorers it’s nearly impossible to decide who to pole.
3. Drake Porter 18 Save Game Against Army
ANOTHER absurd save on the doorstep for 33. pic.twitter.com/EnaMkgVpIQ
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 23, 2020
Returning a starting goalie from one season to another is not something Syracuse fans are accustom to. But, with Drake Porter returning as SU’s starter it’s something they got, and boy did it pay off.
Porter made countless jaw dropping saves over the first five games of the season, but by far his most complete performance came in Syracuse’s first ranked matchup of the season. Army drove up to the Salt City with an offense that early on was one of the best in the country. Much of the talk before the game was about whether or not Porter and the Orange defense would be able to slow the Black Knights attack.
Porter silenced all doubters with an 18 save performance, allowing only seven goals to a team that came into the game averaging 15 goals per game. On top of that Army’s star attacked Brendan Nichtern scored only two goals on the day.
2. Chase Scanlan Seven Goal Debut
The first goal in Orange for 22. pic.twitter.com/B5OqTKZbIJ
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 7, 2020
Possibly the single most impressive individual performance of the season came in the opener. Loyala transfer Chase Scanlan was one of the most built up players in recent memory for ‘Cuse. Just a season after being one of the key players that was responsible for SU’s first round exit in the NCAA tournament, Scanlan was handed the coveted number 22. Expectations were sky high, and boy did he deliver.
In his first game in the blue and orange Scanlan tallied seven goals, the most a Syracuse player had scored in a single game since 2015. After the game he said, “It was a dream come true to play well and get the win.”
Scanlan finished the five-game start to the season with team-leading 18 goals to his name and was already beginning to add to the legacy of 22.
Honorable Mention: Trimboli and Rehfuss’ Hot Starts to Season
#NCAALAX Plays of the Week 🥍
3️⃣ | Holy moly Jamie Trimboli 😳😳 He scored his fourth goal of the day from his knees, it was the 18th goal for @CuseMLAX in a 21-14 win over Colgate. pic.twitter.com/ssg8VNMwHd
— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAALAX) February 12, 2020
These two didn’t make the list, but I’d be hard pressed to talk about this team and not mention the seasons Jamie Trimboli and Stephen Rehfuss were having.
Trimboli led an explosive midfield with 17 goals on the year, and overall looked like a man on a mission this season. While he wasn’t necessarily the most talked about player coming into this season, he played well enough for Johns Hopkins Head Coach Dave Pietramala to call him, “The best overall lacrosse player on the team.”
Stephen Rehfuss moved to 18th all time in assists at SU with this pass and he'll have many more to come if the Orange keep this up. pic.twitter.com/TSOYMbzgOy
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 7, 2020
After leading the team in assists the past two seasons, Rehfuss was once again on track to grab that accolade. He finished the first five games of the season with 18 assists, including two seven assist performances against Colgate and Johns Hopkins. He was just another reason why the Syracuse offense seemed impossible to game plan for.
1. First Time Being Ranked No. 1 Since 2017
Your new No. 1 team in the nation. pic.twitter.com/TpbP4WEf6g
— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 2, 2020
While many of the moments listed above have been individual oriented, it wouldn’t be appropriate to hand out the number one spot to a single player. After covering this team from the first scrimmage I watched I can tell you this is one of the tightest teams I have ever been around. After their win against Colgate Chase Scanlan said, “I’m just happy to be a part of this brotherhood.”
So, the number one spot goes to something Syracuse hadn’t accomplished since 2017; be the number one ranked team in the country. This ranking didn’t just resemble how the Orange started the season, but also what they were capable of going forward.
Syracuse hasn’t won a Nation Championship since 2009, and this year was its best shot in a long time. Post-game conference after post-game conference the opposing coach almost always had the same thing to say. Something to the effect of, “We did what we wanted to do, and we still lost.” That just further showcases how talented this team truly is, but unfortunately, we may never get to see what this team is capable of.
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