Coming off of a very disappointing end to its 2014 campaign, the Syracuse University Men's Lacrosse Team looks to reload. The class of 2015 is rated as the 17th best freshman class by Inside Lacrosse Magazine, and is supplemented by several transfer players as well. The class is highlighted by seven US All-Americans and two players listed on IL's top 100 recruits list. There are two big names highlighting the incoming class, Austin Fusco and Brad McKinney, but plenty of additional talent will join the Orange this year.
While Syracuse returns a powerful attack unit, the big news this summer was Dylan Maltz announcing he would be transferring to Maryland. Nevertheless, the Orange bring in two attack recruits who should help Syracuse in the future.
Former Syracuse Head Coach Roy Simmons Sr. used to tell his incoming freshman "And if you want to play for me, you owe me your first-born male child." This sentiment certainly has not changed, as the Syracuse Lacrosse media guide often resembles a family tree. This year the Orange welcome Gale Thorpe, the son of former Syracuse lacrosse player and current Syracuse Women's Lacrosse coach Regy Thorpe. Inside Lacrosse Magazine rated Gale as the #53 overall prospect in the class of 2013, he also earned US Lacrosse All-American honors. As a senior at Jordan-Elbridge High-School Gale picked up 94 points. Take a look at this nasty goal to see what the freshman can do:
Fellow US Lacrosse All-American Brennen Ferguson led his Niagara Wheatfield High-School in scoring during his 2012 and 2014 seasons. Ferguson also has ties to Syracuse University, as his sister is a member of the Women's Lacrosse team.
Let's start with the face-off specialists, because as we all know that is biggest point of interest for Syracuse fans after the last few years.
In seeking help at the face-off X, the Orange have picked up two transfers for 2015. Zach Vehar and Ben Williams finished off 2014 as the 31st and 32nd best FOGO's in Division I, respectively. Vehar finished off his freshman year with Quinnipiac with a .535 face-off win percentage, 83 groundballs and 3 goals on 10 shots. Zach will not be the only member of the Vehar family at Syracuse this year. His sister Mallory is a current member of the women's team and he also had a brother Griffin play for Syracuse from 2010-2013. Ben Williams finished up last year with Holy Cross and a .531 face-off win percentage. Williams also picked up 4 goals on 15 shots in 2014. Both Williams and Vehar are true FOGO type players.
Coach Desko has also brought in three other freshman recruits. Pat Carlin of Vestal, NY, played in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Underclassmen Game. Carlin put up a 74% faceoff win percentage in his high-school career, and was named a 2014 US Lacrosse All-American. Nathan Farrell comes to Syracuse as the former face-off specialist for Whitesboro, NY. The final incoming face-off specialist for Syracuse is Max Parker, the Central Florida player of the year. Parker won just under 80% of his face-offs as a senior at Lake Highland Prep, the 2013 and 2014 Florida State Champions. Additionally, Parker was named Florida's Mr. Lacrosse in 2014.
The initial edge has to go to the two incoming transfers who have experience at the Division I level. Of course the Orange also have returning players with face-off experience in Austin Wentworth, Cal Paduda, Joe DeMarco and Mike Iacono.
As for true midfielders, the two big names to remember are Tim Barber and Brad McKinney. Barber, whose older brother Ryan played for Syracuse from 2008-12, is another in a long line of OCC transfers. Barber was named the 2014 NJCAA Offensive Player of the year, tallying 55 goals and 36 assists for the Lazers. The former West Genesee player finished off his high-school career as a US Lacrosse All-American and a three-time All-CNY selection. McKinney, the #60 incoming freshman according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine, hails from Watertown, NY where he was selected as an All-American, All-CNY player and a four-time Frontier League All-Star. Pulling in 142 goals and 66 assists, McKinney should provide some firepower for the Orange in the near future.
Midfielder Tyler Ford is another US Lacrosse All-American set to join the Syracuse program. Ford totaled 249 points in his high-school career, including 64 goals as a senior at Oswego High School. Rounding out the midfield class is Luke Schwasnick from Baldwin, NY. Schwasnick was a three-time All-Nassau County Selection.
Ralph D'Agostino will join the Orange...again. D'Agostino hails from Tewksbury, NJ and originally committed and played his freshman year at Syracuse in 2012. However, D'Agostino transferred to Furman 2013 and played for the Paladins in its first ever season in 2014. In 2011, Inside Lacrosse Magazine rated D'Agostino as the 52nd best recruit in the 2012 incoming class. In his first year at Syracuse he snagged 17 groundballs in 13 games played. As a sophomore at Furman, he made 7 starts and had a team high 10 caused turnovers. D'Agostino will be a good addition to a defensive unit that will return all but one player (Matt Harris).
This year's defense will also be boosted by incoming freshman, and the #58 recruit according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine, Austin Fusco. Fusco is a two-time US Lacrosse All-American out of Yorktown, NY.
The last three defensive recruits are Connor Phillips from Fair Haven, NJ, Laz Chavez out of Rye, NY, and finally Marcus Cunningham from Glen Ridge, NJ.
Last year Syracuse went with a two-goalie system, switching between Bobby Wardwell and Dom Lamolinara. After graduating Lamolinara, the Orange enters into 2015 with six goalies in the program, four returners, two of whom redshirted last year, and two incoming goalies.
Warren Hill, who might turn out to be one of the most interesting newcomers in this year's class, comes to Syracuse from nearby Onondaga Community College. Originally from Six Nations, Ontario, Hill put up some incredible numbers while at OCC, leading to him being named a two-time NJCAA All-American. Hill also started for the Iroquois National Team this past summer at the World Lacrosse Championships and sported a .535 save percentage. Syracuse fans should be very aware of the OCC connection, which has produced some big names for the Orange, like Cody Jamieson, Jeremy Thompson, Sid Smith and Brett Bucktooth. With a 4.83 career goals-against average, Hill should offer Wardwell some serious competition. The position battle in net will be the one to keep an eye on.
The second of the two incoming goalies is Nolan Callahan who arrives in Syracuse as a former three-year starter at Avon Old Farms. We may see Callahan get a red shirt as a freshman.