Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse Starts Season off Strong with 7-5 Win over Vermont
By: Ashley Wenskoski | @AshleyWenskTV
Syracuse men’s lacrosse team was more than happy to wipe the slate clean and start anew. The Orange (1-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) opened their season with a win against the Vermont Catamounts (0-1, 0-0 America East Conference) inside the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday afternoon.
It’s an entirely new SU team from last season, with 22 newcomers, including 5-star recruits Joey Spallina and Finn Thomson and transfers Will Mark (LIU) and Alex Simmons (Denver).
It appeared that both teams had to warm up a bit in early play. It was the first game for both squads this season, with Vermont unable to even play a preseason scrimmage.
At the end of the first period, it was 1-0 Catamounts thanks to a lone goal from junior Derek Marsilio. SU got rolling in the second period to the tune of 4 unanswered goals, including the first goals in an Orange uniform for Finn Thomson and Alex Simmons. They went into the half up 4-1.
SU hit a bit of a rough patch in the third period, allowing Vermont attack David Closterman to score on the first possession of the second half. The defense struggled to regain its footing in the third, at one point allowing three goals in less than a minute of regulation to make it 5-4 Vermont.
With 36 seconds left to play in the third, Spallina scored the first goal of his collegiate career to tie things up at 5 all. He would finish with just one goal in the contest, despite having 15 shots and 8 shots on goal throughout the game.
Head Coach Gary Gait spoke postgame about Spallina’s play.
“He’s gotta learn to let the game come to him,” Gait said. “He played differently than he has been in practice. Sometimes you see rookies forcing it…when you stop trying to score, which is what he was doing, the goals will come.”
Into the fourth period, Jackson Birtwistle scored his second goal of the day to put the Orange ahead once more with 13:41 to go. With just over seven minutes remaining, returning veteran Owen Hiltz put the Orange over the top with a score on a Griffin Cook assist.
Gait was pleased overall with the Orange performance, accrediting the defense and the performance of goalie Will Mark as the reasons behind the win.
“I thought Will Mark was outstanding and the defense played very well,” Gait said. “Our offense has some work to do.”
Mark displayed a huge improvement at goalie for Syracuse – a position that plagued it heavily last season. The transfer had 13 saves, good for a 72% save rate, in his first game between the pipes for SU.
The Orange will stay within the America East conference and look to keep the momentum going when they host UAlbany this Friday, February 10th at the JMA Wireless Dome. Faceoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm.