The Syracuse lacrosse team is filled with star power, including four Teewaaraton Trophy nominees, but on their recent hot streak Tommy Palasek has stood out as the X Factor. In just five games since stepping in for the injured Tim Desko on the starting attack, Palasek has scored 14 points, including a career-high three assists against Rutgers. He’s also had a two-goal performance in SU’s 11-8 win over Notre Dame, which put the Orange back on top of a flawed ranking system.
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Since Palasek has entered the lineup, the Orange is 4-1. Following the loss to Cornell, SU attack has netted 13, 12, 12, and 11-goal performances in its last four games.
Palasek is not the most prolific scorer on the Orange attack by any stretch, although he’s averaged just under three points per game since becoming a starter. His greatest asset is his multiple strengths. He can score and pass equally well, posting 14 goals and 12 assists so far this season. Syracuse struggled earlier in the season against tightly-packed zone defenses, but Palasek’s versatility has made a huge difference.
Since he must be respected as a scorer, he helps to spread out opposing defenses, and has an uncanny knack for finding open teammates. The phrase “great players make their teammates better” is cliche, but that’s exactly what Palasek has done since entering the lineup. In the four games before Desko’s injury, the Orange averaged just 7.5 goals per game. In the five since Palasek stepped into the starting role, SU has averaged 11 goals per game. He makes the entire attack more effective.
Palasek has taken a lot of the pressure off JoJo Marasco by giving him someone to share the X with. With Palasek in the lineup, Marasco doesn’t have to be the only playmaker. Having a second go-to guy on the field makes life easier for SU’s prolific scorers like Stephen Keogh. Keogh said after his four-goal performance against Notre Dame:
“We’ve always had great chemistry and we play off of each other really well. When you have guys like Tommy Palasek who share the ball so well, I just have to do the easy part, which is get to the right spot on the field and know that they’ll find me.”
As Keogh points out, the greatest strengths of the SU attack is chemistry and that individual assets compliment teammates’ so well. The Johns Hopkins transfer has found a great chemistry with his new mates, and is a terrific compliment to the rest of the Orange attack. Marasco is mostly a creator, Keogh is mostly a finisher, Palasek is both.
This unit has been playing its best at the right time, with the NCAA tournament fast approaching. Unsung hero Tommy Palasek has been a major reason why.
Posted: Steve Neikam