The Syracuse Lacrosse team is officially in the homestretch of the regular season and needs to work out its kinks before the playoffs start. If the rest of their games are anything like Saturday's 12-2 victory over Rutgers, they'll be all set.
"We’ve seen this quite a bit," SU coach John Desko said after his team wore down Rutgers 12-2 before a crowd of 4,748 at Rentschler Field in the ESPNU Warrior Classic. "Probably other teams playing us this way in the past helped us play better against it today."
"It" was a sagging zone defense Rutgers employed throughout and an RU offense that was warned for stalling on its first three possessions and took only seven – count them, seven – shots through three quarters.
The win was the 57th for SU’s Senior class, tying the Class of 1986’s school record for wins over a four-year period (57). The Orange’s 2011 seniors are 57-7 in 64 games since the start of the 2008 season and have two more games to play this year before the NCAA Tournament. Of course, the seniors have other things to worry about right now:
"It doesn't really matter, to be honest with you," said Miller, a midfielder. "It's not the end of the season yet, so we'll think about it after the season is over."
Tommy Palesek was the hero on the day, notching a career-high six points on three goals and three assists. Palesek has been stepping up in the absence of Tim Desko the past few games. With Desko returning soon, it should make for a powerful combo.
"That's going to be a nice combination," John Desko said. "Tommy feeding a guy like Tim on that side. But we're missing Tim right now and Tommy is filling in doing a very nice job."
Defensively, the Orange are firing on all cylinders. The two goal Rutgers' output was the least amount scored by an opponent since a 2008 regular-season game against Binghamton. While you can always credit the play of goalie John Galloway or the big sticks like Lade or Megill, it's the defensive middies that are making a big difference:
"Our defensive middies ― short sticks ― are just phenomenal," White said. "The three of them we have out there, they've just been playing the best lacrosse. In Tim Harder, Kevin Drew and Joe Moore, they're really bringing up our defense."
If there's a nitpick it's at the usual spot. The X, where SU lost 12 of 18 face-offs. But as long as the other parts are working, it's something the team can deal with.
Up next, the Greatest Game In Big East Lacrosse History. No. 1 and undefeated Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Syracuse. The winner will almost certainly win the conference and might lock themselves into a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. For the Orange, this one is about pride. No one, and I mean no one, should be winning the Big East Title but us. Get ready for Saturday.