SU Men’s Lacrosse: Rest of the Season Preview
By Tyler Melito
CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
Last week, my fellow reporter Trey Redfield offered his grades of Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) through the first six games of the season. Now, SU has a tough run to the finish over its last six games, starting Saturday with Notre Dame.
None of its final opponents will be easy to take down, especially the ACC foes. Syracuse head coach John Desko and co. will have their hands full trying to game-plan for each of these opponents. SU also has to keep its eye on the prize of winning the program’s first national championship since 2009. Here is what we should expect from the Orange’s final slate of games.
No. 9 Notre Dame (4-1, 0-1 ACC) Twice (April 3rd Home; May 1st Road):
Notre Dame has played a fascinating season of Lacrosse. The Irish’s opponents have gone 7-22 one the season, with ND beating them by a combined score of 60-21. In their lone ACC game this season against Virginia, Notre Dame lost 12-11 with seven of its goals coming in the second quarter. It was a game the Irish should not have had a chance of winning.
Pat Kavanaugh is an extremely talented player for this Notre Dame team. Through five games he has seven goals and 28 assists. That assist mark puts Kavanaugh second in the nation at the time of writing. This is a player who comes from a family of lacrosse players and has great field awareness and will be a player that SU must lockdown when they play Notre Dame.
No. 20 Albany (4-2, 2-2 America East) – April 8th
When the Great Danes play the Orange, they will be without a key contributor to their team over the last few years. On Wednesday, Tehoka Nanticoke, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2017, was dismissed from the program because of “internal team issues,” according to a statement from the university.
Before his dismissal, Nanticoke was arguably the most creative player in all of college lacrosse with awe-inspiring goals and being able to make any play with ease. In four games Nanticoke had 15 goals, eight assists, 23 total points.
Now, The Great Danes have looked solid this season overall. They have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 85-64 at the time of this writing. The quality of their opponents is not necessarily off the charts. They did defeat UMass, who was ranked 13th at the time Albany played them. Albeit Albany hosted the game and only one by a goal. They lost to two teams SU has beaten in Vermont and Stony Brook.
No. 2 North Carolina (8-1, 1-1 ACC) – April 17th
The current No. 2 team in the country at the time of this writing is going to be a major roadblock in Syracuse’s hopes of winning both an ACC and NCAA Championship. Looking at the 2021 season for Carolina so far, it is kind of similar to Notre Dame. This is because their non-conference games have come against teams who have a combined record of 23-23. Take away Denver who is currently the #5 in the country, that record drops to 16-21.
That isn’t to say that the Tar Heels did not look dominant in those games, winning by a combined score of 131-69. UNC’s two ACC games thus far have shown how good this team is. In their first game against Virginia, Carolina jumped out to a big lead entering halftime and ultimately won, 16-13. Their lone ACC loss to Duke on Thursday came in electrifying fashion. Losing 12-11, in Durham and in overtime, doesn’t impact UNC’s stock too much. Rather, it simply shows that the Tar Heels are beatable.
UNC already has four players with at least 20 points on the year. There are senior midfielders William Perry and Tanner Cook with 24 and 27 total points respectively. Junior attackman Nicky Solomon – younger brother of Syracuse star, Nate – comes in with 32 total points. Then there is the star of the show so far this season on offense for North Carolina. senior attackman Chris Gray with 32 goals, 24 assists, and 56 total points on the season.
Syracuse will have to be virtually perfect if they want to defeat North Carolina and if the Orange are unable to win that game, they will need to examine the film closely as they will probably see the Tar Heels at least once more in either the ACC or NCAA tournaments.
No. 6 Virginia (7-2, 1-2 ACC) – April 24th
The Cavaliers are the only opponent remaining on Syracuse’s schedule that the Orange have already played, winning inside the Carrier Dome on February 27 in a rout of 20-10. This next matchup against UVA will be different since it will be played in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers have looked decent while playing a lot of close games. Five of their nine games have been decided by three goals or fewer, including their one-goal win at Notre Dame.
Like the rest of the ACC, the Cavaliers have a high-octane offense. Through nine games, Virginia has six players with 10+ goals. They’re led by a three-headed monster at attack in Matt Moore, Payton Cormier, and Connor Shellenberger. The trio has accounted for 43.1% of the team’s goals this season (56) and 58.2% of the team’s assists (46). Syracuse shut the trio down, as they combined for just four goals, three assists, and seven total points. SU also held face-off king Petey LaSalla to a faceoff percentage of 36.6%. He’s winning 64.9% of faceoffs this season. Syracuse will need to bring that same intensity on the road at the end of April to beat Virginia.
Utah (2-5) – May 8th
The final game of the 2021 season (assuming nothing changes) will be the fourth new opponent on Syracuse’s schedule. Utah is a young program, only being a varsity team since 2019. That means the team is still going through growing pains, including a 9-8 loss to No. 5 Denver. Now, the team played competitively in every quarter outside of the third where the Pioneers were able to score five goals. Their two wins came against teams whose combined record thus far this season is 4-11.
There is one player on Utah’s roster that is currently dominating for them this season: Tyler Bradbury. He has 48.8% of Utah’s assists at the time of writing with 20. This is a program that is currently on the rise but still building its foundation. Regardless, this is a game that Syracuse cannot overlook.
Syracuse has a fascinating stretch run coming up. SU has a visible path for an NCAA tournament run, as long as the Orange simply takes things one day at a time.
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