There is always lacrosse talent in Central New York, and Syracuse has taken advantage of the outstanding players bred in its backyard. Brad Kotz is one of the greatest to come from the Syracuse area. Kotz shone during his high school career at West Genesee alongside future Orange teammates Tom Corrie and Jeff McCormick. In 1981, his senior season. Kotz led West Genny to a 24-0 record and a state title, and was named a high school All-American.
Kotz came to SU when the Orange were just establishing themselves as a national power. Head coach Roy Simmons Jr. and company were coming off three straight NCAA tournament appearances, but SU lost a lot of leadership after the 1980 season, and was on a bit of a downswing. Syracuse finished with a 6-4 mark in 1982, Kotz’s freshman year, but he showed plenty of promise, scoring 21 goals in 10 games, contributing 10 assists, and ending the year as a second-team All-American.
Syracuse started off strong the next year, breezing through the regular season to the tune of 11 wins and one defeat. SU utilized a never-before-seen “run and gun” style of lacrosse with Kotz at the helm, and he was the perfect midfielder to lead the Orange. The sophomore recorded 62 total points, and helped Syracuse past Penn and Maryland in the NCAA tournament to reach the championship game. But the team’s most difficult task lay in the championship, against lacrosse giant Johns Hopkins.
The Blue Jays nullified the fast-paced Orange attack in the first half. Kotz did not score, and Hopkins went to the break with an 8-4 advantage. That lead was stretched out to 12-5 early in the third period, then Kotz and the Orange mounted one of the greatest comebacks in lacrosse history.
Kotz’s five second half goals powered the Orange to a 17-16 victory and Syracuse’s first national championship. He was eventually named most outstanding player of the tournament, tagged as a first team All-American, and received the Raymond J. Enners award given to the nation’s best lacrosse player.
Syracuse made the national championship in 1984 and 1985, but couldn’t win either of the title games. Kotz, now a team captain, excelled nevertheless, scoring 30-plus goals in both seasons. He also had 30 assists his junior year. Kotz finished his SU career as a four-time All American.
After graduating from SU, Kotz went on to play professionally for four years. He was a part of the U.S. national teams in 1986 and 1990, and presented lacrosse to an Olympic committee during the latter. In 2001, Kotz was named to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and in 2015, he was awarded the honor of Tewaaraton Legend.
“Brad was one of the first modern-era stars we had at Syracuse,” said Simmons Jr. “He was strong, fast, had great stick skills, and he was one of the most coachable and brightest players I’ve ever encountered… Syracuse lacrosse isn’t what it is today without Brad Kotz.”
Check out the Fizz’s Top 100 list here.