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Syracuse men’s lacrosse: Head coach John Desko, others discuss 2019 season ahead of spring practices

Desko discussed position battles and the No. 22 jersey in his annual preseason press conference.

Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse head coach John Desko woke up Wednesday morning with close to game day jitters. The Orange weren’t playing anybody that day, but instead were beginning their spring season with a film session and their annual media day.

And the excitement carried over into the locker room inside Manley Field House as the team got ready to kick off their season.

“I was really happy walking in and walking out of the locker room this morning,” Desko said. “You could feel an excitement, an intensity there. Really looking forward to practice.’’

Desko, entering his 21st season as head coach of the program, spoke to the media to discuss the upcoming season. Unlike last year, the Orange had a fall season, even though they did a little less than in the past to avoid injuries coming into the spring, and also return a bunch of key contributors who got valuable playing time in the regular season.

“I think we played more freshmen and sophomores than I can remember,” Desko said. “They had really good ability, pretty talented guys. I wanted to get them out there in game situations so we were hoping to be better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year. Like with any group, but especially with the younger guys. We want to draw on our experiences from a year ago.”

There are two starting spots up for grabs entering the spring. The first is the third starting attackman to join current starters Stephen Rehfuss (20 Gs, 28 As) and Nate Solomon (22 Gs, 15 As). The first person Desko mentioned was senior Brad Voigt (9 Gs, 5 As), who was the team’s man-up specialist and fourth attackman a year ago. He also brought up sophomore Owen Seebold (two shots in 10 games) and freshman Griffin Cook as guys that will probably see the field as well.

“Owen Seebold has come back a year wiser, maybe one of the better dodgers at the attack end of the field,” Desko said. “And Griffin Cook an All-American out of high school, Under Armour guy, has come in and fit in very nicely. (He) has understood the offense really quickly, performs well. He’s one of the better guys out there with both hands, so the ability to put him out there and let him play two positions on the left side or the right side is gonna help him get on the field also.”

The other position battle is for the starting goalie job. Syracuse will have their third starting goalie in as many years following Evan Molloy and Dom Madonna. Right now, Desko didn’t commit to naming anyone but did mention junior Drake Porter as the leader in the clubhouse.

“Drake Porter came out of the fall ahead of a couple of the other guys. But (Luke) Strang and (Willie) Klan are right there. And we’re happy with the younger guys, (Nate) McPeak and (Shahé) Katchadurian doing a nice job.”

Porter told The Daily Orange’s KJ Edelman he’s currently the number one guy, but wasn’t definite.

The rest of the team is nearly the same as it was a year ago. The starting midfield of junior Jamie Trimboli (21 Gs, 10 As), and sophomores Tucker Dordevic (15 Gs, 5 As) and Brendan Curry (10 Gs, 7 As) are back, along with other key offensive midfielders such as redshirt sophomore David Lipka (12 Gs, 2 As), redshirt senior Pat Carlin (6 Gs, 2As), and sophomore Lucas Quinn (2 Gs, 2 As) and Jacob Buttermore (3 Gs). Desko mentioned that Dordevic, who suffered a foot injury in the fall, is still recovering. My guess is he’ll be ready in time for the start of the regular season.

The defensive end is also the same with close defense starters Nick Mellen (31 GBs, 22 CTs), Tyson Bomberry (26 GBs, 15 CTs), and Marcus Cunningham (18 GBs, 8 CTs) back in the mix along with a bevy of defensive midfielders such as Brett Kennedy (42 GBs, 9 CTs, 2 Gs), Austin Fusco (25 GBs, 11 CTs, 1 G) at the long pole spot and Peter Dearth (24 GBs, 5 CTs, 2 Gs, 3 As) as a short stick.

But for the second straight season, there will not be a player wearing the number 22. Desko didn’t want to put the number on someone this year, despite some guys being interested in wearing it.

“That number is a big deal,” Desko said, “and I have not wanted that to change the focus on a particular player right now. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have a 22 next year, whether it be somebody on the team now or someone coming in. I just want the players that we have to focus on getting better individually and as a team.

“The 22 goes on somebody who’s a 22. I don’t wanna put a 22 on somebody in hopes of being a 22.”

The team had their conditioning test yesterday and have their first official practice later today.

Other Nuggets

Outside of Desko speaking to the media, other players also talked. Here were some interesting quotes from players from Lindsay Kramer of the Post Standard.

Nick Mellen

“Pressure situations are going to be key. There’s been a lot of one-goal games for Syracuse lacrosse these past couple years. And that just kind of goes to show how competitive every team’s turning. I think that experience will help you on some tricky things like riding and clearing. That always seems to be an issue for younger guys.

“I think the camaraderie that we have as a team right now is beyond any team that I’ve been on here. Everyone’s clicking off and on the field. It just seems like the vibes are just positive day-in and day-out. We have guys that just come in and put their head down and go to work every single day. And you can’t ask for much more than that.’’

Tyson Bomberry

“Last season really left a sour taste in everybody’s mouth. Guys took it hard that this is the way the whole season went. We didn’t perform like we could have performed. We had a lot of youth on the team. Having those guys coming back after a full year of playing, getting a lot of playing time, mixed with the guys that have been playing, I think we have a really good recipe for a very good team this year. I’m very confident with our team.’’

Stephen Rehfuss

“(It’s) just the level of being more comfortable on the field. It’s not as new to a lot of us. Kind of having the year under our belt, playing that tough schedule last year and playing it again this year I think will be good.’’

There wasn’t a ton of content throughout the day on Cuse’s social media pages, but there was a very interesting quote from Trimboli, which could bring up some early season controversy.

Nate Solomon: “Trimbo, is a hot dog a sandwich?”

Jamie Trimboli: “No, it’s not. Not even close”

Solomon: “Why?”

Trimboli: “You don’t put ketchup on a sandwich.”

Good for Trimboli to agree that a hot dog is not a sandwich (that’s the right take). I talked to him to elaborate more on his food takes. He does enjoy ketchup and puts it on his hot dog, but was not a huge fan of mustard. I hope we get more food takes throughout the year.

Meanwhile, former Orange attackman JT Forkin will play for Division II NYIT as a grad transfer. Forkin played seven games in 2015 and scored five goals and an assist. After playing for Nassau Community College in 2016, Forkin made it back to Syracuse in 2017 but tore his ACL three days before the season opener.

The Orange host the Colgate Raiders for their season opener inside the Carrier Dome on February 8. Game time is at 7 PM. That follows the women’s team taking on UConn at 3 PM to start their season.