“Between the hours of 4pm and 6pm we’re no longer friends. I’m coming after you.”
Winning and Syracuse are synonyms in the world of college lacrosse. You can see that when you walk into the Hall of Champions at Manley Field House. SU has produced 22 lax hall of famers and the winningest coach of all time. The 15 national championship trophies grace the room with vibes of past great moments that give you chills.
Brian Megill, SU’s newfound defensive leader, is no exception to the winning mentality. He’s the lone returning starter from last year’s star-studded defense, and has become the locker room leader of this year’s team.
For a guy who gives the pep talks on the field, he’s surprisingly humble off it. The 6-foot tall defender says it’s all about winning.
“I just want our team to succeed. If that’s with high energy, then that’s what it’s going to take. If I have to do it, I’ll do it, but there are a bunch of energy leaders on this team. I try to keep the guys composed, but with enough energy that they can go out there and really pull away from teams.”
Megill recalled times as a freshman and sophomore where guys taught him how to get revved up for games.
“Joel White (SU ’11) was my locker buddy, he would get in my face and get me going. My freshman year Matt Tierney (SU ’10), I swear to god he gave me a concussion before every game. He used to head butt me, I would see him coming and be like ‘Oh god, oh Jesus’. But that was their way of getting me going, and it worked. We had a great defense and great camaraderie. Now, I’m just trying to do what they did on the same level with these guys.”
Coming into this year, Megill was accustomed to a very intense locker room – which might explain his recent call for gut checks and soul-searching. He talked about what drove him to address the team after the Hopkins loss.
“You see this all across Division I. Some people take the opportunities they have for granted. You’ve just got to get out there and prove to everybody why you’re here and they’re not. That’s what I think playing with heart is: playing for your family which is your team, and this team is big on family. And just going out and having fun. I think one of our main things is we’re playing a little bit too tense, too tight. We’ve got to go out there and trust in what the coaches have planned for us, trust in our abilities, and trust in one another.”
Though he says the team operates as a family unit, he’s not afraid to be the enemy in practice if it means preparing the team better.
“We’re taking practice to a whole new level now. I told the guys, ‘between the hours of 4pm and 6pm we’re no longer friends. I’m coming after you, and you’re coming after me. And, whatever happens, happens. Whether we get into a fight, or somebody gets hurt, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
The tough-as-nails defender says this week is when SU has to turn it around. Last time in NYC, the Orange played sluggish lacrosse against inferior St. John’s, and the same won’t work against #8 Duke. As if the opponent wasn’t enough of a challenge, the remarkably young squad will compete under the bright lights in the Big City Classic. It’ll be two of the nation’s most storied programs in a nationally televised contest at Metlife Stadium. What is Megill telling his teammates to prepare for this weekend?
“I just tell them that if they have any questions they can talk to me. I tell them that when they start thinking is when they start making mistakes. They have some experience. They were down at Virginia, at Klockner, they were at Homewood, they’ve gotten the hostility from the fans, the big rivalries. They’ve seen it and they’ve heard it.”
Hostility is just one obstacle #14 Syracuse will face on Sunday. At least going forward, SU has a guy in the locker room who can teach them how to handle it, and just keep winning.
Posted: Jake Moskowitz