I'm not sure we spent enough time last year discussing how historically bad the 2014 Syracuse Orange lacrosse defense was. Personally, I knew it was bad, but not THAT bad. Turns out, it really, really was.
SU gave up a whopping 11.7 goals per game last season, which ended up being the single-worst goals against average for any Orange lacrosse team since Cuse.com started archiving season stats in 2003. The last team to allow double-digit goals per game was the infamous 2007 team that finished 5-8, missed the tourney, and allowed 11.4 goals per game. The 2014 squad also allowed 38.6 shots per game, the most in any season since 2006 (40.8).
This all brings me to 2015, where things are much more pleasant on the defensive side so far. The Orange are allowing just 7.3 goals per game thus far, and are limiting opponents to just 29.7 shots per game. If those totals hold up for the whole season, it would be the second-lowest goals per game mark since 2003, and the third-lowest shots per game.
The four best defensive teams, probably in Syracuse history, took the field from 2008-2011. Anchored by John Galloway, Joel White, and a host of other star defensive players, the Orange transformed from the run and gun teams of the Powells and Gaits, to a defensive juggernaut.
In those four seasons, SU averaged just 7.36 goals against per game and limited opponents to 29.3 shots per game. They also racked up a cumulative record of 60-8 (average of 15-2 per season), won two national titles and were ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 heading into all four NCAA Tournaments.
Obviously, three weeks don't make a season, but SU's start has been noteworthy. While the opponents are sure to improve and the numbers may go up a bit, this still remains one of the better starts for an SU defense in history, and the statistics prove it.
|Through First 3 games|
Through three games, only the 2009 team equaled this current season in goals against, with both allowing 22. That 2009 team also got off to a strong start in shots against, allowing just 84, while the 2015 team has allowed 89. No other team allowed fewer shots per game since 2008.
There are a lot of games left, and a lot of good offensive teams remaining on the schedule. But if this team continues to dominate defensively, the sky is the limit for 2015.