The Syracuse Orange won a gritty game over the Vermont Catamounts 7-5 to start the 2023 campaign. An opening day victory is always appreciated, but not everything from today was encouraging to see.
Here are my takeaways from SU’s first game of the year:
You could tell this was a very raw Syracuse team with how they played for long stretches at a time. The offense was very stagnant to start the game, with freshmen and transfers alike struggling to create any rhythm. But as soon as one shot finally found the back of the net in period number 2, everyone jumped into synch. That process repeated itself in the second half, with Vermont rattling off four consecutive goals before the Orange snapped out of it and retaliated with three of their own.
Some of this can be attributed to the players being relatively unfamiliar with one another, but it's pretty concerning how little movement there was on the offensive side of the field. Attackers were standing idle throughout the entire game, making it difficult for shooters to find good angles. There are too many talents up front for that to be acceptable.
Mark it Down
The biggest positive has to be new goaltender Will Mark’s 13-save effort. There were high hopes for the transfer senior entering the year, and it seems that his preseason All-American accolade wasn’t just for show. If not for his heroics, there’s a good chance SU would have actually lost this game - which is a concern last year’s team knew all too well.
There’s not much else to say here other than Will did his job and then some. He turned aside tough shots throughout the game, even taking a deflection off his knee at one point. #88 absolutely made the right first impression.
Spallina Turns the Tide
#22 was worn by a Syracuse men’s lacrosse player for the first time since Jordan Evans hung up his cleats in 2017.
Though judging by some early moments, you could be convinced it was the inconsistent Evans still in that uniform.
Joey Spallina came out pressing way too hard in search of his first career goal, firing off seven missed shots in the first half. But he overcame those 1st-game jitters and delivered this game-tying snipe to rally his team and get the Orange crowd back on their feet:
FIRST OF MANY.— USA Lacrosse Magazine (@USALacrosseMag) February 4, 2023
Joey Spallina is officially an @NCAALAX goal scorer.
The celebrate years in the making for the @CuseMLAX 2️⃣2️⃣. pic.twitter.com/hlx04vSdlJ
There’s still plenty of work to do regarding the freshmen, but Spallina showed flashes of his greatness yesterday. He may not have been the first of the rookies to score - that was Finn Thomson - nor did he rack up multiple points like a few of his teammates, but the quickness and stickhandling are clearly signs that Joey can improve and live up to the expectations of the jersey number he dons.