As the calendar flips to February, the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team is ready to make their run for yet another national championship.
After the Orange finished 9-5 in 2019, including a devastating loss to Loyola in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, you could certainly call it a revenge tour. The Orange open the season ranked fifth in Inside Lacrosse’s preseason poll. With seven preseason All-Americans, they have the talent to reach the Final Four — something SU hasn’t done since 2013.
John Desko is entering his 21st season at the helm. After years of success for Desko and his team, the past couple of seasons have been uncharted territory for the Orange, as they failed to win 10 games in both seasons. Lately, there have been rumblings of #FireDesko within the fan base. But with the parity in the game of lacrosse nowadays (including the strength of Syracuse’s schedule every season), the gap between Syracuse and everybody else is much smaller. Which is great for the game.
This season, Syracuse can make that leap back to one of the game’s elite programs. They certainly have the roster to do so.
All eyes are will be on sophomore preseason All-American Chase Scanlan. The transfer from Loyola finished the 2019 season with 58 points (43 goals and 15 assists) in his freshman campaign. Those stats landed Scanlan second-team All-American honors by both Inside Lacrosse and the USILA. Scanlan will also wear the famous No. 22 jersey for ‘Cuse, the first time a Syracuse player has worn the uniform since Jordan Evans in 2017.
Other players on the attack line that you will hear a lot of are Stephen Rehfuss and Griffin Cook. Rehfuss finished 2019 with 39 points and a team-high 21 assists. Cook, who played well in SU’s early preseason games, collected eight points and 10 ground balls last year, but those numbers seem poised to increase this spring.
On the midfield line is the return of Tuker Dordevic, who missed the entire 2019 season with a foot injury. Dordevic received an honorable mention as a preseason All-American. In the 2018 season, he compiled 15 goals and 5 assists and started all 15 games for the Orange. Joining Dordevic on the midfield line are Jamie Trimboli and Brendan Curry. Both middies put up 33 points last season, which was tied for the fourth-most on the team in 2019. David Lipka also looks to build off of his 14-goal and 10-assist season from the year before.
Looking at the defensive side of the field, you have to start with senior captain Nick Mellen. He’s been one of the best defensive players in the country, causing 19 turnovers and snagging 31 ground balls last season. Defensive midfielders Brett Kennedy and Peter Dearth are also expected to make some noise. Kennedy led all midfielders with 44 ground balls in 2019 while Dearth was third on the team last season in caused turnovers
In between the pipes is Drake Porter. The senior goalie made the All-ACC team in 2019 while making 177 saves for a .562 save percentage. That percentage ranked him 8th nationally among all goalies. While the depth across for the Orange is a big strength, the success of this team will boil down to the efficiency of Porter.
Another key to success for Syracuse is at the faceoff X, with Jake Phaup and Danny Varello splitting time. Phaup led the ACC with a .606 faceoff percentage (137/226) while Varello went 66/126 on faceoffs in 2019. We’ve seen what happens when this team struggles at the X, so the hope is that we continue to see high rates of success there.
This is certainly one of the most talented teams the Orange have had in quite some time. Between the talent at every single position along with the depth, it may not be Final Four or bust for Syracuse lacrosse this season — instead, it’s championship or bust.
The season kicks off Friday night against the Colgate Raiders, a team that beat Syracuse last season, 12-9 in the home opener. Faceoff is set for 4 p.m. ET, and airs on ACC Network for those watching from home.