The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team got the weekend started early in their Friday matinee game against Stony Brook, defeating the Seawolves, 17-9, inside the dome-shaped stadium at Syracuse University.
The offense continued to show impressive form as they put up at least 17 goals for the third consecutive game. The last time SU did that? The 2004 Mikey-Powell-led Orange. Let’s. Freakin’. Go.
Freshman Owen Hiltz led the charge, continuing to prove that he is the best true freshman offensive player to walk onto this campus since perhaps Powell himself two decades ago.
Hiltz led a very balanced SU offense with five points on the day (4G, 1A), and his goals included a couple of sparkling shooting efforts where he stung the low corner as he was running or fading away from the goal.
Brendan Curry also had five points (2G, 3A) as he continued to take advantage of short-stick matchups whenever he got them, which was way too often considering how good he is. Stephen Rehfuss (3G, 1A) and Chase Scanlan (2G, 2A) both had four point days from the attack, and Tucker Dordevic (3G) threw in a hat trick from midfield. Jamie Trimboli (1G, 1A) and Owen Seebold (2A) rounded out the group of seven players to record multiple point efforts on the day for ‘Cuse.
Highlights from the win over Stony Brook pic.twitter.com/36SxmOpQKK— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 12, 2021
Syracuse kicked off the scoring just 22 seconds into the game when Hiltz caused a turnover, Rehfuss collected the ground ball, and then took a few running steps into a jump shot that he bounced in past Stony Brook goalie Anthony Palma.
SU got a second when Peter Dearth put home his first of the season off a beautiful transition feed from Drake Porter. Much like Hiltz would later, Dearth rocketed his home while fading sideways away from the goal. After a pair of goals where Rehfuss and Scanlan fed each other for finishes, the Orange took a 4-1 lead at the end of the first frame.
While they held the edge in opening 15 minutes, the offense did have some early issues with sloppy play. ‘Cuse turned the ball over eight times in the first, a huge number that prevented their lead from being even bigger.
And Stony Brook made them pay for it in the second as they went on a three-goal run to bring the Orange lead down to just one, 5-4. But that would be as close as the Seawolves got, as SU tightened up the turnovers and capitalized on the scoreboard.
With just under five minutes left before halftime, the Orange began a punishing 9-0 run that would last a little over a quarter and put any hopes of a Stony Brook upset to bed.
The offensive explosion was spurred by the incredible play of Hiltz, who recorded four of his five points as part of the run, and also by the midfield, who got off to a slow start but took off late second quarter.
Brendan Curry was the biggest catalyst alongside Hiltz. In the final minute of the half, Curry started to do what he did against Virginia: take his short-stick matchup behind the goal and initiate offense on the invert. It worked magnificently against the Cavaliers, and again here today as Curry did whatever he wanted to. In the middle of the nine-goal run, Curry was directly involved in six straight goals as a dodger, feeder, and finisher. He showed off his entire skill set, showing vision from all over the field as he continued to try to convince teams to put a pole on him. Let’s hope they keep ignoring him.
Stony Brook ended the run on a goal by leading-scorer Dylan Pallonetti at the 2:40 mark of the third quarter, but the Orange shot right back with two goals in the final minute by Curry and Dordevic, ending the third quarter with a commanding 16-5 lead.
The Seawolves outscored the Orange 4-1 in the final period to bring the final margin a little closer, but it was mostly after coach Desko made lots of substitutions while Stony Brook kept a lot of their starters in.
This was mostly a good bounce-back day for Syracuse after the lackluster effort against Vermont last week. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but there was plenty to be happy about, starting with:
You can say it however you want to. He’s the real deal. He’s legit. He’s incredible. The bottom line is, Owen Hiltz is one of the most complete attackers anywhere in the country.
It’s not just that he pours in goals however he wants to, stinging virtually every corner of the goal along the way. It’s his field vision, and his ability to skip passes to help the offense move more efficiently. It’s his instincts and his IQ. It’s his crazy-quick wrists that allow him to get off shots and passes before the defense and goalie know what hit them. But it’s also his tenacity in the ride. I saw Hiltz cause two turnovers today, one of which led to Rehfuss’s opening goal. He’s incredibly versatile and good at pretty much every aspect of the game.
I personally think Christian said it best in our TNIAAM Slack room conversation: Hiltz is “disgustingly good”.
We’ve talked about how good Owen Hiltz and Brendan Curry were today, but the reality of today was what we already knew: this offense is beyond loaded and borderline unstoppable when they’re in rhythm.
With Syracuse’s top six, every possession someone is going to get a shorty matchup that they can exploit. Curry has proven that in a big way both today and the UVA game.
They’re attacking in different ways and initiating attack from all over the field. It’s a complete headache to try to defend when you have no idea where an attack might be coming from.
17 goals at least in three straight games is no accident. They’re just a joy to watch right now.
Just got to make sure they don’t commit eight turnovers in a single quarter all that often. Like never would be nice.
Jakob Phaup had a big bounce-back day for the Orange. After he and Danny Varello combined to go 10-of-34 against Vermont (29.4 percent), Phaup came back with a vengeance, winning 16-of-25 (64 percent) on the day.
Phaup’s performance on the day shows us that face-offs are all about the way you matchup with the man standing across from you. If you have some kind of technique, strength, or style that matches up well for you, then you’re going to have a big day just like Vermont did last week.
Thankfully, today it was Phaup who had the advantage, as he has in every non-Vermont game this year. Jakob is definitely one of the best in the country, so we just have to hope he doesn’t run into any more unfortunate matchups.
The Defense and Drake Porter
Well, the weak link of this team continues to be on the defensive end of the field, which is easy to say given how great the offense is. Fortunately for us, the overall weak link is anchored by one of the best at his position in the country in Drake Porter.
Drake had another huge day, making 11 saves while only giving up five goals (68.8 save percent). He bailed out his defense on multiple occasions in which they gave up good looks to Stony Brook that probably should have ended up in the net.
For me, the two most glaring weaknesses that need to be improved are the play of the non-Peter Dearth short-sticks and the off-ball defense.
Too many times in the game today we saw Brandon Aviles and Dami Oladunmoye get beaten in on-ball coverage. Sometimes they got bailed out by Drake, and sometimes not. But Dami and Brandon are the No. 2 & 3 short-sticks on this roster after Dearth, and they need to pick up their games as we get back to ACC play. If not, our ACC opponents will know exactly where to attack us.
The off-ball has been a problem all season for Syracuse, and it continued at times today. It doesn’t take much to lose your concentration and/or track of the man you’re guarding, and one misstep can lead to a breakdown for the entire defense.
The teams on our upcoming schedule will punish us for those mistakes.
It’s been more than a little vexing and frustrating to see what’s happened to Chase Scanlan’s finishing ability in 2021.
In his first, shortened season last year, Chase finished a very impressive 18-of-39 shooting (46.2 percent). But this year, he’s shooting only 7-of-29 (24.1 percent). That’s only a little more than half as good as his shooting percent was last year.
It’s definitely concerning, and even beyond the numbers, you can see that he’s struggling to get power and placement on his shots and the saves are coming relatively easy for the goaltenders.
The good news is that after starting the year 2-of-18, he’s 5-of-11 in the last two games. So, he’s trending in the right direction, but I think there are better days ahead for him.
As of today, the Orange are next scheduled to be in action next Saturday, March 20 at noon ET at home against the Hofstra Pride. That game is supposed to be televised on ACC Network.
We might have to put a pin in those plans, however, as this morning Hofstra announced a pause in their team activities.
MLAX: Hofstra Pauses Team Activities. pic.twitter.com/COgGjHXTJS— Hofstra Men's Lacrosse (@HofstraMLAX) March 12, 2021
At this point, we just don't know if the game will be able to go on as scheduled eight days from now. We’ll simply have to wait and see for further developments.
The other possibility, though, is that the Orange could possibly find a replacement if Hofstra is not able to get back in time. We have over a week before the game is supposed to happen, so if there is a team who has an opening, we’ve got time to make it work with them.
We’ll keep you updated on when, where, and against whom we’ll be seeing the Orange next. Until then, enjoy the weekend, enjoy the win, and Let’s Go Orange!!