Last season didn’t meet the standards, nor the expectations of Syracuse lacrosse. The Orange stumbled all year and inconsistent play found them limp to a 7-6 finish and early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Now, rebuilding or reloading seasons are warranted every now and then but 2021’s version of SU lax was far from that.
Syracuse returned seven All-Americans heading into the ‘21 campaign and the anticipation of bringing a championship back to the Salt City was through the roof. Well things play out as intended as the Orange mustered up just a 2-4 ACC record and couldn’t play consistent ball all season long. It was time for a change in the SU program, enter Gary Gait.
Long-time head coach John Desko stepped down from the helm after 46 years of coaching which opened the door for a new head man. It didn’t take very long for Syracuse Athletic Director John Wildhack to take inventory and notice he had a women’s lacrosse coach who just led his team to the national championship. Who was the leader of that successful squad? Former ‘Cuse great Gary Gait.
“This is an exciting opportunity to be able to coach the team I made so many memories playing for, and my family and I are excited for this transition. The goal of every team I’ve ever coached was to win a championship and that goal will continue as the head coach of the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team.”
The former four-time USILA All-American filled the coaching vacancy in June of 2021 and is just days away from making his debut. Gait played in the Carrier Dome from 1987-1990 and exited the 315 as the program’s leading career goal-scorer with 192 tallies. Not only was the British Columbia native a spectacular individual player, the team success followed with it.
The Orange advanced to and won three NCAA Titles while Gait roamed the Hill. The Canadian received rings for three different fingers and was recognized as the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player in 1988 and 1990. All of this to tell you that Gait is the best player to suit up in a Syracuse lacrosse uniform and he’s seen the apex’s that this program can climb too. Now his challenge is to replicate his former success but from the sideline.
The journey begins in just over a week when Syracuse welcomes Holy Cross to Ernie Davis Legends Field to open up the 2022 campaign. SU’s slate is daunting this season as it features seven games against preseason top-six opponents. But what’s the old saying? “To be the best, you have to beat the best.” That’s what the Orange set out to do with a blank slate, refreshed optimism, and a ‘Cuse legend calling the shots.