Football is playing Clemson this week, and that should definitely be getting all of your attention this weekend. And while they’ve been preparing for their big ACC conference showdown in South Carolina, the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team has been preparing for a weekend competition of their own.
Yes the competitive season doesn’t start until early February with the first regular season game, but the Orange will begin their non-traditional fall ball schedule this Sunday down in Binghamton at the Bearcats Sports Complex. They’ll take on the Marist Red Foxes at 5 PM, followed by the Binghamton Bearcats at 6:45 PM (Marist and Binghamton kick things off at 3:15 PM). All three scrimmages are open to the public.
This is the first of three events the Orange will be competing in. Next Saturday is the team’s annual alumni weekend in the Carrier Dome. There will be the Orange Alumni Classic at noon featuring former Orange players across multiple decades in a fun contest to kick things off, followed by an split-squad scrimmage with the current roster following at 2 PM.
The Orange will wrap up fall competitions down in Philadelphia at the HEADStrong University City Classic at Penn on Sunday, October 21. Syracuse, along with Colgate, Delaware, Drexel, Hobart, Lafayette, Penn, and Robert Morris, will be competing at the event. The Orange will take on the Delaware Blue Hens at 9 AM, followed by the Penn Quakers at 11 AM.
Syracuse has had two fall ball events each of the past few years, the alumni weekend and against two other teams somewhere else. In the past, they’ve tried to scrimmage a national team, specifically the Iroquois Nationals, but those plans changed at the very last minute. Last fall, the Orange were scheduled to scrimmage Team Israel and the Iroquois Nationals before the mumps outbreak, which saw Albany take over. Syracuse was also scheduled to scrimmage Maryland and Stony Brook on Long Island shortly after.
With the fall starting, here are some storylines and very early questions to keep in mind. For the record, I’m not the biggest fall ball fanatic out there. Going through it for four years (three if you exclude last year’s mumps outbreak), it’s more of a teaching period for the players and to experiment with different groupings. So if you see something different, take it however you want.
A FALL BALL!
After last year’s mumps outbreak, the Orange will have a normal fall season for the first time in two years. With a big freshman class last year, the Syracuse coaching staff lost valuable time teaching their players without the threat of having to play regular season games. John Desko and company will get that time back with yet another large freshman class coming in. And it’ll also help the players just be better at their craft.
Who takes over as the third starting attackman?
The obvious candidate is senior Brad Voigt. The Penn Yan native played in all 15 games and started one of them in place of a then-suspended Nate Solomon against Johns Hopkins. He finished with nine goals and five assists and saw plenty of time on the man-up unit. But there will also be some others to look out for to get some increased playing time. Sophomore Owen Seebold appeared in 10 games and only recorded two shots but was their fifth attackman last year, and classmate Troy Lauder brings a ton of skill to the table. Don’t count out freshman Griffin Cook as well.
What about the starting goaltender?
Similar to the question above, that should have a clear answer in junior Drake Porter. The Canadian was Dom Madonna’s backup and appeared in four games in 2018, recording a 2.44 goals against average and a 75% save percentage in 24:36. Despite the small number of minutes over the past two years, he’s shown plenty of flashes in those appearances and would not surprise me if he’s one of the best goalies in the ACC and maybe even the country. Willie Klan, Luke Strang, and Nate McPeak, who played for Jamaica in the World Games this summer, are also looking to take the job.
Will the short stick defensive midfielders improve as a unit?
The only pure SSDM on the team last year was Kevin Hutchings. He was joined at times by Dami Oladunmoye, Andrew Helmer, Peter Dearth, Grant Murphy, Luke Schwasnick, Jonathan Partamian, Tyler Ford, and Riley O’Sullivan. Here’s who played in the final game of the season against Cornell (Hutchings was out with an injury):
- Dearth (converted offensive midfielder midway through the season)
- Helmer (formerly an LSM)
- Oladunmoye (originally an offensive midfielder coming out of high school)
- Murphy (formerly an LSM, converted midway through the season)
- Schwasnick (mainly used on the wing for faceoffs)
It was also a tough year for the unit considering they lost Paolo Ciferri and Joe Gillis due to graduation. A young and mainly inexperienced unit now has a year under their belts and should be better overall. Hutchings was the top d-middie but is apparently not on the team this year. Helmer and Murphy have the LSM background in them, which does help when playing the short stick role. Dearth is an athlete and give credit to him for willing to shift to the defensive side of the ball after beginning the year as a starting offensive midfielder. Oladunmoye had a good first year in the new position and so did Partamian in his few appearances, while Schwasnick is a big-body guy that can win pivotal ground balls on faceoffs.
Also of note, the women’s lacrosse team will kick off their fall schedule Saturday morning with their annual Play Day on campus. The Orange will take on Division II Le Moyne, Binghamton, Cornell, Division II Adelphi, and Albany in a span of a little under seven hours.
After that, they’ll have two events next weekend on Saturday at Penn State and Sunday against Navy and Maryland. They’ll participate in the Manhasset Play Day on October 13, before wrapping things up on October 28 at Boston College. According to the press release, they’ll also take on Northwestern during the fall. My guess is that could be at Manhasset.