Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse Midseason Report Cards
By Trey Redfield
CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
Six games in, six games to go for No. 4 Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast).
Yes, the 2021 season has gone by that quickly. But as Stephen Rehfuss said after the 15-14 loss to No, 2 Duke (9-0, 1-0 ACC) on Thursday, “It’s only March.”
But whether it’s March, late May, or even December, the Orange are 4-2. The last time that occurred was just in 2019. What happened then? Not Memorial Day Weekend, that’s for sure. Heck, SU was not even a national seed in the tournament. It ended in a first-round exit against Loyola, 15-13. Ironically enough, Chase Scanlan scored two goals for the Greyhounds, before going to the Orange next season.
Two years ago had similar outcomes. An opening day loss to an in-state rival and a heartbreaking loss to a conference foe, 15-14.
At the end of the day, this was 2019. This year, it’s a whole new ball game with some new faces and some old. This is how I think those faces have done so far this season.
If the Orange are going to be playing on Memorial Day this year in Hartford, it is because of this attack. Look at the top three in total points this season for SU, and you will find the first attacking line. Chase Scanlan is leading the way in goals with 18. Stephen Rehfuss is doing more than just quarterbacking at the X with not just 16 assists but 15 goals. Owen Hiltz, the rookie, is doing his thing. The Canadian is racking up 4.33 points per game, which is good enough for fourth among the class of 2024. The trio is the reason why Syracuse kept it within striking distance against Duke, and if a trip to Hartford is booked in May, they are the reason why.
This midfield line is one of, if not the, best in the entire country–at the start of the year. But right now, I don’t see them as the best. Brendan Curry has 17 points, which is fourth on the team. Right behind him is Tucker Dordevic with 16. But after that is a big dropoff caused by Jamie Trimboli. Desko’s midfield cannot be the best midfield when Trimboli, who was the hero in 2018’s thriller against Duke, puts up a goose egg in 2021’s long-awaited edition. You could say the senior’s kryptonite is Tobacco Road. Trimboli has not put up zero points in a game since North Carolina back on April 13, 2019. The attack can’t run the ship on its own. The midfield has to step it up if they want to party like it is 2009.
Defense wins championships, they say. But you can’t win a championship if you can’t win at the face-off X. Brett Kennedy and Nick DiPietro are doing just fine, and Mitch Wykoff has been a huge addition from Gettysburg College in Division III. Plus, Drake Porter has been phenomenal, saving 13 shots per game (2nd in the ACC). But, Jakob Phaup and Danny Varello are the reason behind the upgrade in defensive production, especially against Duke. Phaup, who has gotten the upper half of reps, was 10% in successful face-offs against the Blue Devils–20% in the first half, which was the reason behind a 12-7 halftime deficit. Varello couldn’t crack either, winning only 7 of his 22 face-offs. To those new to the game, the best way to win is by winning at the face-off X. If you don’t win there, you don’t raise banner number 12 in the Dome.
For some, a B+ is a good spot. In Central New York, it’s an incomplete zero. It’s only going to get tougher for the Orange. Its next six opponents feature five in Inside Lacrosse’s top 20–four of them in the ACC. If guys like Trimboli, Phaup, and Varello can turn it around, this team will find itself competing with Duke for not just 30 minutes, but the entire sixty. But in the words of Notre Dame football legend Frank Leahy, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Speaking of Notre Dame (4-1, 0-1 ACC), that is who Syracuse plays next Saturday, April 3. In their last matchup, SU only competed for 30 minutes, going down 11-3 at halftime and falling 13-10 at the final buzzer. Face-off for the first of two matchups between the Orange and Fighting Irish is set for noon in the Dome.
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