The key to another Syracuse lacrosse championship is its defense, and the key to that defense is John Lade. Syracuse lacrosse is the #1 team in the nation and the dream of bringing home another championship is certainly in grasp. The Fizz noted yesterday that another title for this group of seniors could make it the greatest class ever at Syracuse. But while SU’s offense has found its groove lately, the Orange is still counting on its defense make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
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Lade is arguably the most important defensive player on SU. He always draws the toughest assignment, and more often than not shuts down the top man. Look at the players the senior has already negated this season:
- Notre Dame’s leading scorer Sean Rogers (one goal on two shots)
- Denver’s preseason All-American Alex Demopoulos (one assist and one shot attempt)
- Kevin Cunningham, Villanova’s leading scorer (one goal)
- Hobart’s Sam Miller, who is 22nd in the nation in scoring (one goal on one shot)
Lade is not only the best cover guy on the Orange, but he also slides to adjust for picks and identifies cutters that flash in front of the cage. When Lade is not in the lineup, the defense is completely different.
Senior defenseman Thomas Guadagnolo after the mid-season loss to Cornell.
“Not having John in there is definitely huge. He is the best cover guy in the country. Having him out there we have great communication. Me, Brian and John have good communication down there, it is something special.”
The Cornell loss was SU’s low point because of the embarrassing defense it played. Without Lade on the field, the Big Red dominated on offense, led by Rob Pannell’s six points. Pannell saw ample opportunities to get one-on-ones with SU goalie John Galloway and took advantage.
Not having Lade forces Brian Megill to defend the opponent’s biggest offense threat, and causes a chain reaction of defenders being placed in a different position. It was evident during the Cornell game that Big John is needed on the field for the defense to act as a unit.
The Syracuse defense has been outstanding all year, allowing double-digit goals only four times this year. One of those happened without Lade in the lineup. When he’s missed time, team communication breaks down and players don’t slide as well to mark open cutters. Lade is the shut down defender, that lock down corner who takes away the best offensive player every week. The Orange needs him to stay healthy and continue to play well. If not, the Orange might see more shades of a Pannell-esque shellacking. Defense wins championships, and with Lade the ‘Cuse look locked and ready to make noise in the postseason.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert