The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team defeated the Vermont Catamounts, 17-13, on Saturday in what marked the first athletic event in the Dome with actual fans in attendance in more than a calendar year.
The students who attended the Saturday matinee were witness to a closer showcase than most of us anticipated.
The team was led by a star-turn performance from senior goalie Drake Porter, who made a career-high 20 saves to help the Orange pull out the win.
The offense had an incredible day shooting (17-of-32), but didn’t see enough of the ball due to a horrendous day at the X (10-of-34).
It was an attack-led day for the offense, with Stephen Rehfuss orchestrating eight points on two goals and six assists. His line mates also had strong performances. Freshman Owen Hiltz continued to impress with five points (4G, 1A), more than once showing off his quickness and creativity in finding the net. Chase Scanlan rounded out the attack with four points (3G, 1A), although made a couple questionable decisions, including committing a bad retaliation-penalty at the end of the third quarter.
While SU led by multiple goals almost the entire game, they were never able to fully put the game out of reach, largely due to Vermont’s success at the face-off dot and their scrappy efforts throughout the game.
You have to give the Catamounts credit. They dominated re-starts 24-10 (70.6 percent), controlling possession and keeping the ball away from the Orange’s high powered offense as much as they could. As a result, they outshot ‘Cuse in every quarter individually, and overall, 51-32.
SU opened up the scoring on the day with goals by Tucker Dordevic and Hiltz, and after Vermont tied the game at two, Jamie Trimboli put home back-to-back goals to put the Orange up 4-2. The second of those goals came on a slick behind-the-back feed from Rehfuss, whose eight points tied a career high and six assists moved him into the Top 10 on the all-time career assists list at SU.
SU and UVM traded goals for much of the first half. With Syracuse leading 7-5, neither team scored more than two in a row until the mid-point of the second quarter when the Orange ripped off three consecutive to bring the lead to 10-5 on goals by Lucas Quinn, Owen Seebold, and Rehfuss. But, as they did all day, the Catamounts came back with two goals before halftime to make it 10-7 SU at the break.
‘Cuse opened the second half with a run that looked like they were finally going to get the separation over UVM, scoring four of the first five to take a 14-8 lead. From there, however, Vermont scored three in a row to close out the third quarter, 14-11.
This was the point in the second half when the face-off issue really started to rear it’s head. As Vermont inched their way closer, the Orange struggled to halt their momentum as the Catamounts won 8-of-9 face-offs in the third quarter.
Fortunately for SU, Porter did just enough in cage to be the momentum-stopper that his team needed. The two teams traded goals in the fourth quarter, ensuring that Vermont never got closer than three goals the rest of the way.
Highlights from the win vs. Vermont pic.twitter.com/uuAQAeCSBC— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) March 6, 2021
Overall, this game lacked sharpness from the Orange. Outside of Porter’s outstanding performance and the offense’s amazing shooting day, the team looked just kind of meh. The defense struggled in front of Drake, missing some assignments and having communication issues that led to some easy Catamount looks. And, of course, the face-off unit had a day to forget.
Again, credit to Vermont. They knew what they needed to do in order to keep this game close, and they fought hard all day long in every facet of the game. Beyond just dominating face-offs, they also beat the Orange badly in the ground ball game, 42-29.
That FO & GB combination made it difficult for ‘Cuse to get much momentum on offense, despite shooting a phenomenal 53.1 percent on the day. It was difficult for the Orange to string successful offensive possessions together when Vermont kept winning the re-starts.
Despite that, however, SU still found the net 17 times.
Imagine how much they would have scored if Phaup and Varello got even close to 50 percent at the X.
The Orange men will be back in action in less than a week, when they welcome another first time opponent to the Dome, the Stony Brook Seawolves.
Syracuse and Stony Brook will face-off on Friday, March 12 at 1 PM on the ACC Network.