As far as debuts go...that one was pretty good for Gary Gait and company.
In his first game as head coach of the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse program, Gait’s No. 12 ranked Syracuse team handed Holy Cross one of the worst, most comprehensive beatdowns you’ll ever see in a lacrosse game. The Orange won 28-5 on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.
If it wasn’t for the time of year, you could be forgiven for thinking that Syracuse beat Holy Cross in a football game in the Dome on Saturday. That’s how crazy the numbers got in this one.
The offensive explosion was led by Tucker Dordevic (5G, 1A), Owen Seebold (5G, 1A), Brendan Curry (4G, 2A) and Mikey Berkman (3G, 2A). In total, a whopping 17 players recorded a point on the day, 11 of whom recorded multiple points. Dordevic, Seebold and Curry all had at least four goals in the first half.
As a team, ‘Cuse shot 28-of-49 on the day, a ridiculous 57.1% shooting percentage. It went even beyond the simple shooting numbers, though, as time after time the Orange shooters stung the pipe with their shots. That’s not just shooting well, that’s shooting expertly. Check out the game highlights below and give a special listen for all the pings you can hear (especially when Brendan Curry shoots):
Dominant performance in the season opener pic.twitter.com/nBwVXNibZM— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 12, 2022
The game was over almost immediately, as a few minutes in, the Orange scored three goals in just over a minute and never looked back. Redshirt sophomore Mikey Berkman, getting the start at attack, found junior and Baldwinsville native Pete Fiorini cutting straight downfield towards the goal for a slam dunk finish. Curry followed with two outstanding shots on the run to set the tone for his day.
The Orange came out playing with purpose and a point to prove. They ran all over the Crusaders right from the get-go. And it wasn't just that they were playing with great effort and intensity; there was also a free-flowing nature to the way their player and ball movement was conducted. They were creating whatever they wanted to on offense, and finishing it off with absolute lights-out shooting.
When the first quarter ended, it was already 9-0 Syracuse. Brendan Curry had four goals by himself, every one of them accompanied by the beautiful melody of the pinging pipe.
Defensively, the Orange brought a physicality and effort level that set the tone on that end of the field, and is exactly the type of thing you'd expect from a Dave Pietramala defense. Paul Carcaterra noted on the broadcast how impressed he was by the communication the defense was exhibiting - a noted area of weakness for that unit last year. Sure, they didn’t have to do very much, especially early, because of how easily Jakob Phaup was dominating face-offs and SU was controlling possession, but you have to love how hard they played for Petro. I don’t blame them - I’d fear being yelled at by him, too.
The second quarter continued the onslaught, as ‘Cuse somehow bettered their first quarter production and put up 10 more goals, leading to a double-take inducing 19-3 lead at halftime. 19 goals. At halftime. Insane.
Things didn’t let up all that much after the break, either, even as Gait emptied the bench. SU outscored Holy Cross 9-2 in the final 30 minutes and continued to play hard all day long.
In the end, the 23-goal win was the largest margin of victory for Syracuse in Carrier Dome history, besting the 1991 effort beating Michigan State (!!) by 21. The 28 goals fell two shy of tying the school record for goals in a single game.
Gait did something in this game that we hadn't seen very much in recent years - he went deep into his roster and played a bunch of freshman and upperclassmen who had never seen meaningful minutes before. And I’m not talking about all the fourth quarter, garbage-time minutes. In the first quarter, he was throwing out freshman like Tyler Cordes, Carter Rice and Matteo Corsi. He was playing veterans who never before had gotten much of a chance, such as Pete Fiorini and Mikey Berkman. Yes, it was partly because guys like Lucas Quinn and Jacob Buttermore were out with injuries, but it was still clearly a point of emphasis that Gait wanted to get as many guys involved as possible today. It’ll be interesting to see whose playing time continues moving forward.
Gary Gait talked a lot this offseason and preseason about the Orange having “something to prove” coming off the struggles (i.e. - multiple blowout losses) of last season. Right from the opening face-off on Saturday, his players played like they had a point to make.
They put up a result that will definitely turn some heads in the lacrosse world. Sure, it was against Holy Cross. We definitely don’t want to get too crazy as we attempt to project what this result means moving forward. But the bottom line is that they played like a team with a chip on their shoulder, and that was tremendous to see.
They better keep that chip mentality, because the schedule is getting dialed up to 11 next weekend, when Maryland comes calling to the Carrier Dome at Noon next Sunday, February 20.
We’ll worry about that then. For today, I hope you enjoyed this one, because that was a lot of fun.