Now that we’ve taken a look at who will likely be playing down low on attack for the Syracuse Orange offense this season, it’s time to look at their up-top partners in crime at the midfield.
It’s important to note that since there are so many players on this offense who have traditionally played attack in their careers, be it in high school or at previous colleges, that we’re largely trying to figure out who will be making the move to midfield.
The official SU roster is giving some clues, but if you read the attack preview article, you’ll notice a handful of overlap in the players I’m mentioning as candidates for playing time. Let’s take a look at who we’ll be seeing running out of the box for the Orange offense this season.
Finn Thomson — Freshman, No. 23
Finn’s one of a handful of players that I mentioned in both attack and midfield articles. He is listed as an attacker on the roster, but I assume we’re going to be seeing a lot of him at midfield due to the likely presence of Owen Hiltz, Joey Spallina and Alex Simmons on attack.
The bottom line is, one way or another, we’re going to see Finn out there plenty this season for ‘Cuse’s offense, because he’s far too talented not to be. Hailing from Toronto, the No. 5 overall ranked player in the freshman class might have something to say about who is the most influential newcomer to SU this season.
Michael Leo — Freshman, No. 7
One of many players with an attack background from his high school days at St. Anthony’s, Leo is listed as a midfielder and likely to receive first-line reps this spring.
Ranked as the No. 26 player in the freshman class, he kind of falls into a similar category as Thomson where he’s just got too much talent to keep him off the field just because of a log-jam at attack. The freshmen will announce their presence in this offense however they can.
Luke Rhoa — Freshman, No. 8
The next in our parade of Under Armour All-Americans coming in this year, Rhoa is a player who actually comes in having played primarily midfield in high school, where he was a star for St. John’s College HS in DC.
The No. 24 overall freshman in the class, Rhoa’s just another true freshman with a chance to start for this team, or at the very least contribute significantly off the bench.
Cole Kirst — Graduate Student, No. 40
How about a touch of veteran experience to all this youthfulness?
Cole comes in as a graduate student after spending four years at Lehigh, where he played attack. He’ll be making the transition to midfield, although I expect to see him inverting to take advantage of his experience and skill playing below goal-line extended, especially if he’s drawing shortie matchups.
Cole is a tremendous leader for this very young team, the proof of which is the fact that he’s been named one of the team captains in his only year in the program.
Jackson Birtwistle — Redshirt Sophomore, No. 9
Jackson is one of the players I’m most excited to see hit the field this year given the way that last season ended for him.
In case you need a refresher, he scored 13 goals in the final four games and shot a torrid .520 percent (13-of-25) during that stretch. As a guy who plays primarily off-ball, he’s the perfect type of player to be on the finishing end of some of this great team ball movement we’re hearing so much about.
He’s a fantastic finisher, and anyone who can score goals with his level of efficiency needs to see the field plenty.
Griffin Cook — Senior, No. 2
Welcome back from injury, Griffin!
The senior captain, who suffered a season-ending injury against Duke on March 26, just resumed practice a couple of weeks ago. Griffin is another player who brings the experience for this group, where he’ll probably be a second-line midfielder.
Griffin has actually never finished a season with double-digit points, but he’s a solid offensive player who is excellent in the riding game when it comes to causing turnovers and scooping up ground balls. Hopefully, it won't take him too long to get back into consistent playing shape.
Welcome back, #2#HHH x #LikeNoOther pic.twitter.com/2PWVdrYpme— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) January 22, 2023
Tyler Cordes — Sophomore, No. 29
Cordes saw the field a lot in his true freshman season, largely due to a glut of injuries the team suffered throughout the season. He appeared in 13 of the 14 games and actually started eight of them. He finished the season with 12 points (4G, 8A) and nine ground balls.
His playing time is likely to decrease this season due to the influx of talent such as four of the six names I listed above him, but he is one of just a small handful of players returning to this offense from last season, so his presence is noteworthy.
There are a handful of other players worth mentioning, starting with Pete Fiorini (No. 13), the redshirt senior who was named one of the team captains for this season. The Baldwinsville native has never played very much throughout his career, but last year he appeared in 13 games and scored the first three points of his career.
Carter Kempney (No. 3) is another freshman stud to watch out for. The No. 44 (good omen?) overall freshman in the class, Carter hails from Carthage and is another freshman who was named Under Armour All-American as a senior last year.
Jake Murphy (No. 16) is a name worth mentioning as a transfer who comes to SU alongside Will Mark from LIU. I think Jake might factor into the SSDM conversation, but he’s listed as a midfielder so I’ll mention him here. Max Rosa (No. 10) is another player who fits that description. John Cohen (No. 81) is listed as an attacker, but played some midfield throughout the fall, so could factor in on one of the backup lines.
Freshman Zach Mercado (No. 14), redshirt sophomore Caelin Lewis (No. 15), redshirt freshman Blake Borges (No. 21), sophomore Barrett White (No. 31), and sophomore Nathan LeVine (No. 34) close out the group.