With ACC regular season play complete, the Syracuse Orange wrap up the regular season with a road trip to Annapolis to take on the Navy Midshipmen. Opening faceoff is set for 5 PM on CBS Sports Network with John Sadak and Evan Washburn on the call (Live Stats are here).
Navy leads the all-time series 19-8-1, but Syracuse has won seven of the last nine meetings. This will be the first time since 1982 the two teams played each other in Annapolis in the regular season. The teams met for a fall ball scrimmage at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium back in 2015. Side note, that stadium is the best for college lacrosse.
The Last Game
Last week against North Carolina, the Orange had yet another solid defensive outing. Despite giving up a 6-0 run, Syracuse would give up only one goal in a 35:53 span while they scored 10 en route to a 12-9 final that was not as close as the box score would appear.
Nate Solomon led the way on offense with a hat-trick and an assist, while fellow starting attackmen Stephen Rehfuss and Bradley Voigt each recorded three points. FOGO Danny Varello took the bulk of the draws and went 13-of-18 on the afternoon with seven ground balls with goalie Drake Porter making 12 saves as well.
Last Time They Met
Last season’s meeting was one of the best finishes in college lacrosse.
In a back-and-forth affair inside the Carrier Dome, midfielder Tucker Dordevic scored a goal with 58 seconds left to give the Orange a 12-11 lead. That felt like the game-winner when it happened. But the Midshipmen had other plans. Jack Ray found himself open right in front of Dom Madonna in the middle and tied the game up with nine seconds left, with the thought that overtime would come next. Again, the Mids had other plans. On the ensuing faceoff, Joe Varello, the older brother of Danny, won the draw, passed it to his long stick midfielder who lost control, but Varello found the ball and fired a quick shot to win the game with 0.2 seconds left. The final draw would provide college lacrosse’s best moment of the year with both Varello’s hugging each other.
.@navymlax's Joe Varello was just looking to win the faceoff battle against younger brother, Danny, and @CuseMLAX, but got so much more.— US Lacrosse Magazine (@USLacrosseMag) April 21, 2018
Joe, the older brother, earned sibling bragging rights and scored the buzzer-beater to give Navy its biggest win yet. https://t.co/8GACdL7RwQ pic.twitter.com/YzaIU1VZk8
In the loss, Rehfuss recorded one goal with six assists on offense. Tyson Bomberry and Brett Kennedy recorded three caused turnovers each on defense. Danny Varello went 11-of-27 from the faceoff X.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY: NAVY
Unlike last season, the Midshipmen are a younger team and the offense is very reliant on their starting attack and midfield units.
The entire starting attack is made up of underclassmen with sophomore Christian Daniel leading the way. He leads the team with 26 goals and is second on the team with 35 points. Freshmen Nick Cole and Jack Sweeney make up the rest of the attack, with senior Patrick Walsh coming in as the fourth attackman.
The offense is a midfield driven team spearheaded by the senior duo of Ryan Wade and Greyson Torain. Wade is the only player with double-digit assists (23) and leads the team with 40 points. Torain has been a threat every year since his freshman season for the Midshipmen and even lines up on the wing for faceoffs. Joining them at midfield is sophomore Michael Foster. After that, the midfield doesn’t have a ton of scoring support with Augie Fratt, Drew Smiley, Ian Burgoyne, and Joe deLyra as depth options. Combined, they have three goals and four assists on the year.
Their defense is also a little inexperienced. Sophomore Andrew McKenna is the lone returning starter on the squad and is joined by classmate Nick Franchuk and junior Tom Evans. Sophomore Jacob Mandish has also started seven games this season and will see playing time, usually on the man-down unit and as a wing on faceoffs. Their top LSM is Jeff Durden who has five caused turnovers but 32 ground balls. Mandish also can get runs at LSM if Durden needs a rest. The SSDMs consist mainly of Brad Alexander and Tim Griffin, with Colin Meehan getting some runs recently. Freshman Nick Barry has won 49.5% of his draws this season and is the team’s top faceoff option. Joe Miller and Jacob Jarosz are also options. In goal is junior Ryan Kern who has a 54.3% save percentage and an 11.43 goals against average. He’s Navy’s best player on defense.
But despite being young and a little inexperienced, the Mids still have some very good players worth noting, whether it’s Daniel, Torain, and Wade on offense, or McKenna, Durden, Alexander, Griffin, and Kern on defense.
Things To Know
Before we get to John Desko’s weekly press conference and other player interviews, there is a game worth keeping your eyes on before the 5 PM faceoff.
North Carolina visits South Bend to take on Notre Dame at noon on ESPNU. As I explained last weekend, that game has ACC Championship implications for Syracuse. The Orange will take on the Tar Heels no matter the outcome of the game. But if North Carolina wins, Syracuse will be the #2 seed in the conference tournament with UNC being the #3 seed. That game would be Saturday afternoon. If Notre Dame wins, the Orange will be the #4 seed with UNC being the #5 seed and both teams will play in the first round game on Thursday night, which means either team could have to play three games to win the conference tournament instead of only two. The winner of that game would play top-seeded Virginia in the semifinal round.
So, go North Carolina. I guess.
Now, here’s Desko.
Also hear from Solomon, Varello, and Jacob Buttermore.
Enjoy the day of college lacrosse! There’s a few other games this weekend (including Maryland-Ohio State), so make sure you enjoy what the sport has to offer! And if you want to chat during the game, this will be the place to do it!