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Offense explodes in Syracuse men’s lacrosse’s 21-14 win over Robert Morris

The offense had a day, and the Orange picked up a win in the regular season finale.

Army v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team closed out the 2021 regular season with their most prolific scoring day of the year, putting three touchdowns on the board for a football final score of 21-14 over the Robert Morris Colonials on Friday afternoon.

The Orange exploded out of the gates in this one, scoring NINE goals in the opening quarter and 14 in the first half, and never really looking back from that start. In fact, SU got up by three goals late in the first quarter, and Robert Morris never got closer than that the rest of the game.

The ‘Cuse offense brought their shooting sticks, unleashing 58 shots and absolutely peppering Robert Morris goalie Ben Savick with 41 of them on goal. Are you ready for a crazy stat? SU’s 41 shots on goal is the most for a Syracuse team in one game since at least 2013. I looked back at the cumulative season stats for SU in recent years, and no game saw more than 41 going back to the 2014 season. That’s as far back as the cumulative stats go on the athletics website, so who knows how long it’s truly been since that many shots were put on goal by an Orange team.

If not for Savick making a ridiculous 20 saves for the Colonials, it could have been a mammoth scoreline for SU.

It was also a great day for the SU face-off men, who combined to win 26-of-37 draws, a very strong 70 percent success rate. Individually, Jakob Phaup had a huge day, going 24-of-32 (75 percent) and picking up a career-high 16 ground balls. Phaup’s efforts helped the Orange dominate the ground ball battle, 45-30.

It wasn't all good news for Syracuse on the day, as the team got sloppy with the ball at times to the tune of 16 turnovers. They also committed six penalties, three of which Robert Morris turned into EMO goals. This many mistakes will bury SU in the tournament, so it absolutely needs to be cleaned up.

Beyond the mistakes, the defense continued to struggle in very big and obvious ways, particularly the same off-ball deficiencies of communication and man-marking that we’ve seen all season. As rough as 6-on-6 defense can be for the Orange, the transition and man-down defense is just as bad if not worse. At this point in the season and with the injuries to two defensive starters in Nick DiPietro and Brandon Aviles, it’s really tough to envision much of an improvement for Lelan Rogers’ group.

That is going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on the FOGOs and the offense to be close to perfect in doing their jobs to offset the defensive issues, not to mention the task that Drake Porter has in front of him.

Syracuse was paced in this one by an incredible day from their attack, who combined to score 21 points and 14 of the 21 goals. The remaining seven goals were scored by the starting midfield trio.

Owen Hiltz (7G, 2A) had a career day with nine points on seven goals and two assists. Hiltz’s seven goals were a Syracuse record for most goals in a game by a freshman. Owen Seebold (5G, 2A) also had career-highs with five goals and seven points, and Stephen Rehfuss (2G, 3A) rounded out the phenomenal day for the attack with two goals and three assists for five points.

The first midfield had their most productive day in a while, as Tucker Dordevic (3G, 1A) recorded a hat trick and Brendan Curry (2G) and Jamie Trimboli (2G) each had two. Another stat to remind you how good the offense was: all six offensive starters for SU had at least two goals.

Check out the videos below for the highlights of the game, which saw some highlight reel plays like the incredible connection between the Owens for a #SCTop10 worthy goal.

The Tournament

With this win, ‘Cuse finishes the regular season with a record of 7-5 (2-4).

They are definitely making the tournament. It’s the placement of this Syracuse team in the tournament that will be the interesting thing to watch for on Sunday.

With the Rutgers upset loss to Johns Hopkins on Thursday, and Army’s loss to Loyola on Friday, the Orange might yet have a shot at grabbing one of the final seeds.

Right now, the main contenders for the final four at-large teams appear to be the following:

  • Syracuse
  • Loser of Denver/Georgetown Big East final
  • Loser of Lehigh/Loyola Patriot final
  • Army
  • Rutgers

Some other teams like Villanova and Navy are also in contention, but I’d say the above five teams are going to be duking it out for the final four spots after the other four ACC teams scoop up the first four at-larges.

Unless of course Hopkins wins the Big Ten final, in which case one more of those teams is going to be left out of the party.

Then we come to the matter of seeding. I believe that the four ACC teams and Maryland will occupy the top five seeds, which leaves seeds No. 6-8 to be filled by the teams listed above. I have to believe that the winner of the Big East final will grab one of those seeds, as will Lehigh if they win the Patriot final. But Syracuse is very much in contention for one of the final seeds, especially with the Rutgers and Army losses.

Whether the Orange end up seeded or not, it looks likely that they’ll be matched up with one of these teams that I keep coming back to: Denver, Georgetown, Lehigh, Loyola, Army, or Rutgers. These appear to be the teams that will make up those three matchups of the No. 6-8 seeds.

It’s all going to be very interesting, especially with a few conference finals still to play out over the weekend.

Selection Sunday

It’ll all be determined Sunday night, during the joint selection show for the Division I men’s and women’s lacrosse tournaments. The show will air on Sunday at 9 PM on ESPN U.

I’ll also be joining Steve, Andy and Christian for the Nunes LiveStream on YouTube as we watch and react to the selection show and the tournament draws for both the men and women’s teams.

So tune into both for a fun night of lacrosse coverage as we gear up for some May Madness, and, as always...Let’s Go Orange!!!