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Syracuse Lacrosse Is Back And It’s Time To Pay Attention

Syracuse Men's Lacrosse players celebrate after a goal against Delaware

The recent stretch for Syracuse men’s lacrosse has been extremely disappointing. There is no way around it. The Orange haven’t won a tournament game since 2017. SU hasn’t been in the final four since 2013 and hasn’t won the national championship since 2009. Some players on the current team are too young to remember that. For a program that is arguably the best in the history of the sport, that is unacceptable. But this year the argument can be made that ‘Cuse is back and it’s time to believe. Syracuse is ranked 6th in the country and is coming off back to back wins against top-20 opponents including Gary Gaits’ first top-5 win against Johns Hopkins.

Highlights | Syracuse vs. Johns Hopkins

There are a lot of reasons to believe in this year’s squad. It’s still a young team, with a lot of contributors just sophomores. But, most of them started last year so even though they’re young, Gary Gait has called this group “veteran sophomores.” It all starts with Joey Spallina on offense. A generational recruit out of high school, and the reigning ACC freshman of the year, the X attackman has taken a step up this year. The sophomore leads the nation in points and assists. While he struggled in the first few games against ranked opponents, Spallina has picked it up recently, leading the way in wins against #2 Johns Hopkins and #20 Delaware.

In addition to Spallina, Syracuse has an endless list of dangerous options. On the attack, Owen Hiltz seems to be back to his old self scoring six points on Saturday against Delaware. Christian Mulé, the Lehigh transfer, has drawn a short stick in a number of games and has made teams pay. Mulé gives Spallina a chance to move around the field and transforms the SU attack. All three have had trouble at times dodging but have picked it up recently.

In the midfield, a pair of Princeton grad transfers, Jake Stevens and Sam English have brought life into a unit that brought back a lot of youthful talent but not much experience. The two former All-Americans are impactful all around the field as both have the ability to go back on defense and can be difference-makers on the wings during faceoffs. Michael Leo, Finn Thompson, Luke Rhoa, and Jackson Birtwhistle have all improved immensely this year and are all starting to gel.

The offense is getting so many more opportunities this year as well. Last season, SU had one of the worst faceoff units in the country but the reigning D3 faceoff player of the year from Tufts Mason Kohn, and freshman John Mullen have been incredible. The Orange have gone up against some of the best faceoff men in the country and are still 3rd in the nation. Syracuse is dominating the possession battle and with all of the talent on the offensive end, it’s been a huge part in the ‘Cuse’s 6-2 record.

Gary Gait Comments on Tufts Transfer, Mason Kohn

When Kohn and Mullen aren’t winning faceoffs, they are getting help from a defense that has gotten so much better. Billy Dwan has taken the next step and become a star. Riley Figuerias, who was the top-ranked freshman defenceman in the class of 2022 but tore his ACL last year, has gotten better and better each game and is starting to show why he was so highly rated out of high school. Caden Kol and Nick Caccamo have split time as third close defenders and both have been more than serviceable. Will Mark in goal continues to be incredible He is the active saves leader in division one and is always someone the Orange can rely on.

In the defensive midfield, Saam Olexo continues to be one of the best long-stick midfielders in the country. This year, the LSM has been supplemented by Matt Wright who transferred from North Carolina. The former All-American has been a true difference-maker on this team and has allowed the Orange to rotate seamlessly. The short-stick defensive midfield is the one weak spot. SU had some injuries in the room at the start of the year but Jake Spallina, Vinnie Trujillo, Carter Rice, Nathan LeVine, and Wyatt Hottle have improved as the year has gone on and have become serviceable.

Tonight, Syracuse opens up ACC play against 4th-ranked Duke. The Blue Devils lost in the national championship last year and return arguably the best lacrosse player in the world right now Brennan O’Neill who was the MVP in this summer’s world games. Duke has played a much easier schedule that Syracuse so far this year, with no games against top-10 opponents. The Blue Devils one loss came at home to then #17 Penn. The Quakers haven’t looked very good since then so this Duke team still has a lot of questions around it. Opening faceoff is at 7 pm in the dome.

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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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