Well Gary Gait and Company have wasted no time turning things around in the Salt City. Syracuse is off to a hot start at 3-0 and recently cracked the Top 20 in both the Inside Lacrosse and USILA rankings. The #16 Orangemen have already taken down the reigning back-to-back America East champion in Vermont. The ‘Cuse also claims blowout wins over UAlbany and Holy Cross.
So, the Orange are perfect to start 2023 and that hasn’t been done since the 2020 season which was cut short due to COVID-19. Syracuse has shown its marked improvement on both sides of the field and passes the eye test of being a team with chemistry.
From an individual standpoint, Joey Spallina has lived up to the hype so far in his famed #22 uniform. The Long Islander leads Syracuse with 11 goals and 13 points. Spallina’s winger Owen Hiltz is right behind him with 10 points through three games. The Canadian has looked very comfortable in his return from injury. Additionally, freshman Finn Thomson flashed his talent in the opener against the Catamounts. The five-star recruit had a breakout game against Holy Cross this past weekend as well with four goals.
We’d be remiss if we left out the defense. The Orange were 66th out of 72 teams last year in scoring defense. So far, Syracuse has allowed no more than seven goals in a game and has stifled its opponents. Dave Pietramala’s unit looks energized, ferocious, and understanding of the defensive philosophy. LIU transfer Will Mark is also holding it down between the pipes. The netminder has already posted two double-digit save outings as an Orange.
Clearly, Syracuse has re-invented itself thanks to an infusion of new talent. The Orange look way better than they did last season, a season that saw them win just four games. Now the question is, can Syracuse hang with the elite?
Gary Gait’s team has a real gauntlet coming up. The Orange are set to face four consecutive ranked opponents which includes two ACC games. The slate includes #4 Maryland, #19 North Carolina, #13 Duke, and #9 Johns Hopkins.
The only team in that clump that Syracuse beat last year was Duke. So how far have the Orange truly come in year two of the Gait era? We’ll get that answer at the end of this stretch of games, but in the mean time our first indication comes this Saturday when SU duels with Maryland in College Park.