Syracuse-Hobart Preview: Going For A Hundo

USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, Hobart and Syracuse play each other for the one hundredth time in their history. SU is coming off of a great four game stretch where they got wins over Notre Dame, Binghamton, Cornell, and UNC. Hobart is having a mediocre season at 4-7 but last year took down the Orange in the Dome. Syracuse is fighting to avoid a back-to-back loss to the Statesmen.

Well, after a win over the Cornell Big Red and that crazy double-OT victory against the North Carolina Tar Heels, I hope everyone is excited about Syracuse lacrosse again. Coming into every season, we have such high expectations for this team, so naturally it was easy to let our hopes down midway through the season after blowout losses to Maryland, Virginia, and Duke. Now though the Orange sit at 8-3, and #4 in the country.

When you talk about rivalries for the Syracuse Orange men's lacrosse team, certain institutions come to mind: Georgetown, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins. Then of course, there's Hobart. Most casual lacrosse fans, especially those outside of upstate or western New York, might not recognize the Hobart-Syracuse rivalry, but it is the longest running and arguably it is the biggest rivalry for the Orange.

Syracuse debuted its lacrosse program in 1916. Finishing just 1-5-2, the Orange had a rough first year. SU lost to Penn State, Onondaga Nation (twice), and Hobart (twice), managed a tie against a team named Battery ‘A,' and got a tie and win against the Syracuse Lacrosse Club. Syracuse's first game ever as a program ended in a 1-9 loss to nearby Hobart College and took place on April 29, 1916. It took four games for Syracuse to finally get a win over the Statesmen, taking them down in what must have been a thrilling 3-2 win in 1919 (and we think we need a shot clock now?). The all-time series record against Hobart has Syracuse up 71-26-2. That means these two teams have played each other 99 times, Saturday being their 100th matchup. The only other institution which has played Syracuse even close to that many times is Cornell, whom the Orange have faced 99 times (including this season) (the next closest is Army whom the Orange have played 61 times).

Although Hobart took the first three contests of this rivalry, it has been dominated by Syracuse in the recent era. Until 1995, Hobart had played in Division III, winning 13 National Championships at the DIII level between 1980 and 1993, making them sort of the DIII Syracuse. As of right now, lacrosse is the only sport that Hobart competes in at the Division I level. Since 1986, when the Kraus-Simmons Trophy was first awarded, Syracuse has dominated the series 25-3 losing in 1986, 2006 and most recently last year in 2013. In 2013 SU lost to just three teams: Albany (in double overtime), Hobart, and Duke (in the National Championship). The Orange played the Statesmen in 2013 at the Dome as the #5 team in the nation, but still lost 13-12. That being said the last time Syracuse lost to Hobart in back-to-back years was 1978-79. Three of the last four games between these two teams have resulted in one-goal games. That's the kind of rivalry this is, while SU clearly has the advantage, Hobart almost always plays the Orange tight.

So what is the Kraus-Simmons Trophy? No, unfortunately it is not named after myself. The trophy got its name from two legendary coaches. Roy Simmons Sr. coached at Syracuse from 1931 to 1970 and holds a career coaching record of 253-130-1 (.660%). Babe Kraus coached Hobart from 1927 to 1966 and holds an all-time record of 208-119-5 (.634%). While at Hobart he coached not only varsity and freshman lacrosse but also varsity and freshman football, varsity and freshman basketball, and varsity baseball.

Greg Raymond is in his first year at the helm for Hobart. A Johns Hopkins graduate, Raymond had been the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Princeton prior to becoming the Head Coach at Hobart. Under Raymond's first year as a head coach, the Statesmen hold a 4-7 record. After losing their first 5 games to start the season, Hobart has gone 4-2. The Statesmen and Orange have played 3 of the same teams so far this season. Hobart lost to Siena 12-7, Cornell 12-8 and Binghamton 11-10 (OT), all teams Syracuse has beaten. With no shot to get an at-large bid, Hobart is putting all of its hope in winning the Northeast Conference, which they currently sit fourth in with a 3-2 conference record.

The Orange take on Hobart on Saturday, April 19th at 3 pm in Geneva, NY. The game can be seen on TWCS and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM.

Attack

Second year starter Jake McHenry is the team leader in goals with 24, no other Statesmen has more than 16. He has a .381 shooting percentage and a .635 shots on goal percentage. The attackman out of Ohio has put away 3+ goals in 5 games, including scoring 4 goals against Brown, Sacred Heart, and Wagner. The Statesmen have a dismal .378 man-up conversion percentage, but McHenry leads the team with 5 of its 14 extra man goals.

Senior captain Cam Stone, a Jamesville-DeWitt product, currently ranks 9th on Hobart's all-time, career assist leaderboard with 81. This year he leads all Statesmen with 19 assists, the next highest on the team is 7. Stone had the game-winning goal in overtime against Canisius earlier in the season.

A member of the Israeli National Team, sophomore Matt Opsahl has started on the attack in place of the injured Alex Love. With 45 goals in 2013 and 9 goals in just three games to start 2014, the departure of Love is a huge blow to the Statesmen. Opsahl, however, has 7 assists and is second on the team in goals with 16. The Potomac, MD native has a .667 shots on goal percentage and a .333 shooting percentage. Against Mount St. Mary's, Opsahl had 4 of Hobart's 8 goals.

Midfield

Sophomore Cooper Stefaniak from Lancaster, NY, has started the last 9 games at midfield for the Statesmen. Prior to this year, Stefaniak saw time in just one game, but in 2014 he has totaled 11 goals and 4 assists.

New Jersey native Taylor Vanderbeek was named a captain for the 2014 season. In his freshman year, the ECAC named Vanderbeek to its All-Rookie Team, as he was the highest scoring, true freshman midfielder in the country with 20 goals. In 2013 he started all 14 games and this season, his junior year, Vanderbeek has made 7 starts in 10 games played, picking up just 12 goals and 3 assists.

Playing in at least 11 games in his first 2 years, junior Zach Reed has started the last 9 games at midfield. He has had two hat tricks this season against Bryant and Wagner and has a .659 shots on goal percentage. Reed has 13 goals and 5 assists on the season.

Stefaniak, Vanderbeek, and Reed should be the starting midfield line against Syracuse.

FOGO

Jake Shapiro has taken 202 of the Statesmen's 247 face-offs this year. Shapiro has a .446 face-off winning percentage pulling just 90 of 202. Three other Hobart players have taken face-offs but combined they have won just 7 of 45. Shapiro was not supposed to lead Hobart at the face-off circle, but after Gryphin Kelly and Charles Snipe (a combined 171-250 in 2013) left the team for non-lacrosse reasons, the freshman from Bryn Mawr, PA, was called up.

Defense

In 2011 and 2012, Connor Eustace saw the field in just 6 games each season, battling a series of injuries in 2012. In his junior year, Eustace played in just one game, causing a turnover against Loyola. Now in his senior year, the Ontario native has picked up 22 groundballs and caused 14 turnovers. Eustace is tied at 6th on Hobart's all-time, career, caused turnover list at 19.

Freshman Grant Soucy has had 12 groundballs and 8 caused turnovers. Out of Lake Zurich, Illinois, was a three year captain at Lake Zurich High School, helping his team to the 2013 IHSLA Lacrosse Cup State Championship.

Fellow freshman Shane Hurley has had 11 groundballs and 10 caused turnovers, including 4 in the Statesmen's game at Colgate. The freshman from Billerica, MA, also adds 5 penalty minutes to his first-year resume.

Goalie

Captain Peter Zonino has started all 11 games this season and played all but 9 minutes. Zonino has a .529 save percentage and a 9.75 goals against average. The senior out of Wayne, PA, is ranked 14th in the nation in saves per game at 10.91 and is 6th in Hobart history for career saves. At the end of March, the NEC named Zonino the conference's Defensive Player of the Week after an 8-5 win at Mount St. Mary's where he made 10 saves. Against Cornell, the senior had 18 saves in a 12-8 loss.

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