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SU Lax Early Look: Can a Young Orange Defense Grow Up Quickly Enough?

Who steps up now that Galloway and White have moved on?

laxunation.com/Rich Barnes

(Editor’s Note: As The Fizz has grown over the past four years, we have been continually looking for ways to better serve Orange Nation. With a staff that continues to grow, resources that build because of our readers incredible support, and a passion for all things SU, we are finally ramping up our lacrosse coverage. I covered the Ryan Powell-led Orange that won the 2000 national championship and fell in love with the legacy and culture of SU lax. I was wowed by grainy video of Air Gait, and loved the mythology of lacrosse’s never-ending dynasty. I wanted to wait until we could do it right, not just a half-assed attempt at writing a game recap every few weeks. Now, it’s time for The Fizz to serve the awesome Orange lax community in a big way. Fizz writer Jake Moskowitz will be all over the beat this season, talking to players weekly, attending practices and covering all SU home games. It’s about time we cradled lax coverage here at The Fizz. Enjoy. -D.A.)

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Syracuse lacrosse once again enters the season as a top 10 team nationally, but unlike past dominant Orange teams, the ’12 edition has question marks across its young defense. Netminder John Galloway and longstick midfielder Joel White have both moved on. With the season opener against Albany less than two weeks away, practicing without those two  is proving just how valuable that veteran presence was.

Senior defensemen Brian Megill is one of the few upperclassmen left who has stepped up into a leadership position this year. Megill tells The Fizz that SU’s youth is definitely a different feel.

“I think a lot of guys are trying to worry about their man too much instead of worrying about team defense as a whole. That’s what happens when you have a young team. We obviously lost tons of starters last year so a lot of the guys in there were new. The guys are trying to get in there and do the right thing.” 

Syracuse won both exhibition games in a double-header against LeMoyne 11-5, and Hofstra 7-5 Sunday. Despite the youth, Megill was particularly impressed with the play he saw from one new defender in his first outing.

“On the defensive end, Pete Macartney has impressed me a lot, and Joe Fazio, filling in for Joel White, is doing a tremendous job.  Drew Jenkins is doing an unbelievable job at the Shortstick D/Middie, and that’s one of the toughest positions in lacrosse. Because you’re playing defense but you don’t have the six-foot reach like a defender does.  You have to have the speed and agility that he has.”

McCartney is a redshirt freshman, while Fazio is a junior who happens to have to fill the shoes of White. JW was a Tewaaraton finalist and a leader of an Orange defense that allowed just 6.9 goals per game. Jenkins, a sophomore, benefits from having played in 9 games last year as a midfielder. Even though having open spots this close to the season could be problematic, defensive coach Leland Rogers thinks the competition is good for this team.

“We’ve got some upperclassmen, but there’s these underclassmen who are scratching and clawing at them, just drooling to get on the field. That’s really created this firestorm of competition, which is great.”

John Desko is preparing this green group for an early test. Although it’s an exhibition game, Sunday’s game against Maryland brings up bad memories of last season’s elimination stall-fest, when the Terrapins knocked the Orange out of the tournament.  Megill played in that game, and knows the rematch will mean plenty to the older guys.

“I guess I get to say that if I went back and made this check instead of that check, I could have got the ball, we could have gotten one more possession. A loss is a loss, we took it to heart, and we’re going to come back this year fired up.”

The young Orange defense will be tested throughout the season, and the countdown is on for Duke at Metlife Stadium in the Big City Classic. There are no rebuilding years at SU, just reloading. Let’s see if the young Orange defense can live up to the challenge.

Posted: Jake Moskowitz

3 Comments on this Post

  1. We will suck this year if you look at what were loosing and the little that were gaining anyone who disagrees with this after loosing galloway white thompson miller harder and others … how?

  2. Connor- It’s definitely a different feel for the players and coaches, and it certainly looks different to fans not seeing those guys on the field anymore. Hindsight is 20/20, but from what I’ve seen so far, the young guys battling for the starting goalie position and those moving up to the 3rd and 2nd lines at Mid and Defense are performing well. Henry Schoonmaker, SU’s only player to come from Oregon, now plays with Scott Loy and Drew Jenkins. The game coming up against UVA will answer a lot of questions about how much will to win this squad has.

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