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Pass or Fail? The Fizz’s Midterm Grades for SU Lax & Tournament Prediction

The Fizz’s Syracuse lax midterm grades are in, and they’re not pretty. There’s always times in high school when we hid our report cards from our parents because of the C- in Art or D in Algebra. Hell, Fab Melo’s end of semester numbers were so bad they short-circuited SU’s tournament chances.

SU lacrosse finds itself in unfamiliar territory, scrambling at 4-4 and trying to stop the bleeding on a two-game losing slide. The Orange has had an uninspired first eight weeks, barely slipping by Army and St. John’s, losing to Virginia, Hopkins and Duke, and being handed its first Big East loss ever by Villanova. Here’s where the midterm grades on this year’s edition of the Orange:
  • Attack: B
Syracuse perennially brings in the best recruits in the country, and players like freshman phenom Derek Maltz have mostly lived up to the expectations. But while he co-leads team lead in goals (13) and is second in total points (19), DM has really cooled off in the last two games.

Meanwhile, senior Tommy Palasek has gone on a tear. While Maltz has fallen out of the spotlight, TP has averaged 3 goals per game and 1.5 assists per game in his last two. In losses to Villanova and Duke, Palasek had 4 and 5 point performances respectively. His shooting percentage also tops all starting attackers at .435. That means if there’s one guy you want to see with the ball and a look at the net, it’s Palasek.

Tim Desko has also contributed big-time. He’s easily been the most consistent force on the attack all season long. He’s deadly from any angle, which is why he’s sharing the goals lead at 13 with Maltz.

SU has the talent, but hasn’t quite put the pieces together on the field in some key situations. There’s enormous potential to be even deadlier in this category, but  to earn an ‘A’, the Orange shooters will have to demonstrate a little more smart-shooting when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. SU has been very close to upending several opponents with last minute shots, but has relied on makeshift angles and poor shot placement.
  • Midfield: B-
SU lost some key guys at every position heading into this year, but the midfield may have been impacted the most. SU lost legendary face-off man Jeremy Thompson, Josh Amidon, and Jovan Miller to name a few. Stepping into a leadership role this year is JoJo Marasco, who has played impressively considering he’s now only playing midfield this year. Syracuse is helped by star Kevin Drew, who adds a ton of speed and sparks the transition offense better than anyone.

While the unit is young and inexperienced beyond senior Bobby Eilers and Marasco, redshirt freshman Hakeem Lecky has shown serious star power. He’s earned the final spot on the starting line. The 2nd line for SU has outperformed expectations, with respectable contributions from redshirt freshman Henry Schoonmaker (four points in 8 games). Luke Cometti has also stepped up into a huge offensive role on the second line, as he’s now fourth on the team in scoring.
In the end, youth hurts the midfield. While the starting line is more than solid, the relievers still lack experience, especially when matching up against the best in the country. Many of the attack’s struggles can be attributed to inconsistent midfield play.
  • Defense: A
There is no unit that has performed better on this team than the defense. It also lost legendary starters, but with the leadership of Brian Megill, has recovered remarkably well and continues to perform against the best offenses in the country. Megill spoke to The Fizz this week in practice, addressing his role of guarding the opponent’s best attackers.
“I try and limit their leading attacker to whatever I can limit them to. Obviously it’s tough giving most guys nothing. You have to accept that they’re going to get one or two goals or a couple of assists per game. I’m trying to do a lot more communicating and a little bit more in transition. I love running up and down the field so I like to try and get the ball and get up on the offensive end to make something happen.”
Being a defensive powerhouse isn’t even enough for Megill. Now that he’s accepted his role as SU’s blue chip defender, he now wants the ball to score. On and off the field, Megill has every bit the right attitude and sets the example for his linemates to perform as well as he does.
Like the ultra-talented hoops team, this lax team starts their offense in transition -which means it falls on guys like Megill to not only prevent goals and steal possession, but to facilitate a strike towards the opposing net.
  • Goaltending: C
Bright moments in the preseason for both Matt Lerman and Dom Lamolinara haven’t translated to blockbuster performances between the pipes during the regular season. Both guys came into the year relatively inexperienced, and thanks to what seemed like an absurd amount of time not knowing who would start, neither is truly prepared to play 60 solid minutes in net. While they’re both promising at times, Syracuse is allowing nearly 10 goals per game on average. Here’s what newfound starter Dom Lamonliara had to say yesterday about his starting job.
“I’m not sure it’s 100% decided. I’ve lost 2 games in a row, so the starting job is still open. The nerves are gone, as of the 2nd half versus Duke. I talked to Coach and he really settled me down. I had a better 2nd half. I’m just going to settle in and do my job as best I can. I get more pressure having two fantastic goalies behind me in practice than having two losses in a row.”
The second goalie he referred to is freshman Bobby Wardwell. The CNY native was a highly touted recruit in high school and was a favorite of many locals to have a quick chance at the starting job. Things heated up between Lerman and Lamolinara though, and Wardwell stepped out of immediate contention. However, Coach Desko told InsideLacrosse.com that Wardwell was “very close to potentially seeing time on the field.”

Questions circulate through every unit on the ’12 Orange. That’s simply an unavoidable consequence of losing 7 All-Americans. Whatever the grades may be, it comes down to getting the spark this team needs to regain it’s winning ways, says JoJo Marasco.
“I know our guys think we can go far. I know our entire team – you know, every guy came here and said ‘yes’ to Syracuse to win a championship. That’s our goal every time we step on that practice field and game field. We got a great group of guys and just for them to be so motivated after four losses is huge for our team.”
  • Tournament Prediction: Eliminated in Quarter-finals
As it stands, SU’s chances of even making the NCAA’s is up in the air. Tough games left on the schedule will be away at Cornell, home against Georgetown and at Notre Dame. Syracuse should be able to escape the Big East tournament unscathed, but the NCAA’s will be imposing.

While SU is a motivated, young squad full of some major talent and potential, it doesn’t have enough to truly dominate against elite teams. Syracuse will inevitably run into Hopkins, UVA, UNC, Denver, or Duke in the tourney, and as of now, it doesn’t seem like this team has what it takes to overcome a challenge of that caliber.

If there’s anything this 17th-ranked team needs right now, it’s a win over Princeton. Looks like it’s time to hit the turf and raise the GPA, because finals are quickly approaching.

Posted: Jake Moskowitz

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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