The exhibition season is over, and the real work finally begins for #7 Syracuse lacrosse. The Orange will enter the season minus a few key players on both sides of the ball. After last year’s early elimination at the hands of Maryland, SU picked the revenge bone in a late-game comeback in yesterday’s preseason matchup, scoring five goals in the fourth quarter to win 11-9. The Fizz breaks down three on-field observations from the final exhibition weekend.
- Young Offense Gels
Kevin Rice scored 2 of those second half goals against Maryland, including the go ahead score with :16 left in the game. The freshman won’t take any credit though.
“Matt Pratt made a great pass, and I just dropped it in. It was really easy on my part.”
Rice says even though the offense is younger than years past, guys are coming together to work well as a unit, and the team might be poised to play better than people expect.
“It’s great, because nobody around the country is giving us a shot to be very good. We just have to play unselfishly, and when everyone on the offense touches the ball, it goes very well.”
You have to be impressed with Rice, especially with where he is mentally. He’s readily giving credit to his teammates, and the team is learning to play to each other’s strengths, move the ball, and find the net. Rice believes a key part of the offense is redshirt freshman Hakeem Lecky.
“He’s a great player. He’s impossible to stay in front of, he’s very fast, so he’s going to be great for us for the next four years.”
Rice isn’t the only one impressed with the young offense. Senior attack Bobby Eilers, who had a pair of goals, likes to see the younger guys coming to the seniors for advice.
“They just want to soak it up, learn everything. They’ll come to me, JoJo [Marasco], [Hakeem] Lecky. They’ll ask us what to do on certain plays instead of going to Coach. They ask, we tell ‘em, and they execute, which is nice.”
John Desko agrees with Eilers on the potency of the young scorers, especially Kevin Rice’s two-goal performance.
“With Maltz out, Rice got some serious time with the first group, and he produced. We were happy to have a freshman do so well for us.”
- The Sooner Derek Maltz is Back, the Better
The 6’2” 190-pound Maltz is suffering from what Desko calls a “lower body injury” that is “by no means season ending.” Either way, the Orange is much more dangerous with him. As a freshman, Maltz contributed 3 goals on 3 shots, and saw minutes in seven games. He’s a vital part of this young offense.
- Defense Closes the Door, Dominates Transition Game
In a nod to the 25-1 basketball team, SU lax is terrific at creating turnovers and clearing the ball out of the defensive zone. A lot of that success is due to the leadership of junior defenseman Brian Megill, who told the Fizz he was impressed with the defense’s second half compete level against Maryland.
“We had a little lapse during the first quarter, we let up four goals. Towards the end of the game, we only let up three goals, in the last half. I don’t care who’s in, you only let up three goals in two quarters, that’s a good achievement, and if we come out with the energy that we game out at halftime with, we’ll be in good shape.”
Megill was named the team’s Inside Lacrosse Returning Leader, after leading the SU defense last year with 27 caused turnovers.
The Orange now awaits it’s opener against Albany next Sunday. One thing the victory over Maryland taught us is SU has plenty of young talent, and has shown early signs of confidence and synergy that could make Syracuse more lethal than it’s #7 ranking suggests.
Follow the Fizz on Twitter for live updates from the sidelines of every home game this year.
Posted: Jake Moskowitz