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Syracuse men’s lacrosse: Orange halt losing streak with 16-8 road win over Hofstra

It was a wet and wild spring break party for the Orange on Tuesday night on the Island.

For the first few minutes of the Syracuse Orange vs. Hofstra game on Tuesday night, the LacrosseTV stream and the Syracuse defense had something in common: they were both malfunctioning.

While the stream never quite got things right all night long, thankfully the Orange did as they romped their way to a 16-8 victory over the Pride in the first regular season meeting between the two NYS programs since 2003.

In what I suspect was an early hangover from the Hopkins game just three days earlier, the team came out in the cold and rain and couldn’t match the level of a Hofstra team that hadn’t played in 10 days.

The Orange were down 3-0 just six minutes into the game and in need of an early timeout from Gary Gait. That was pretty much the end of the positive for Hofstra.

‘Cuse closed the first quarter with an absolute fury, scoring five goals in five minutes to take a 5-4 lead after a crazy first quarter that ended in the craziest way possible; with a Saam Olexo desperation heave from midfield as the clock expired that found the back of the net and sent the Orange bench into a frenzy.

There was no looking back, as that goal was the highlight of a 10-1 run from the late first quarter to the early third that, at one point, included seven straight Orange goals and gave the road team a 10-4 lead that they would never get close to relinquishing.

The run, and really the majority of the game, showcased how fun it can be to watch this Syracuse offense when they’re clicking. The ball movement was quick and crisp and led to a lot of easy looks. They took care of the ball, only committing 10 turnovers in the rain, and assisted on 13 of their 16 goals. Five players finished with multiple goals, while seven players finished with multiple points. 10 players recorded a point in the game.

Joey Spallina (4G, 3A) and Owen Hiltz (3G, 3A) led the charge with seven and six points, respectively. They were everywhere all night long, as at least one of them was involved in 12 of the 16 goals. Finn Thomson (2G, 2A) made his presence felt with four points, while Michael Leo (2G, 1A) continued his uptick in play with three points. Jackson Birtwistle (2G), Alex Simmons (1G, 1A), and Cole Kirst (2A) rounded out the players with multiple-point games. Olexo had the highlight of the game with his goal from midfield.

After the terrible start, the defense settled in nicely and held Hofstra down. They gave up three goals in the opening six minutes, but then only surrendered five goals in the final 54 minutes to turn Dave Pietramala’s early frown upside-down. Will Mark had a great effort in goal on a sloppy night on the field, making 13 saves and finishing with a .619 save percentage.

The clearing game was a massive positive for ‘Cuse on the night. In the rain, the Orange cleared extremely effectively, going 19-of-20. The flip side was an even bigger positive, as SU’s pressure made for a nightmarish evening for the Pride, who only went 10-of-16 in the clearing game. Spallina had a standout night on clears, forcing two turnovers by himself thanks to his hustle.

Coming off only their second game of the season winning the face-off battle, the FO unit was back to having a bad night. They got run over by Hofstra FOGO Chase Patterson, who went 19-of-28 and picked up 11 ground balls. Patterson is ranked top-10 nationally in both win percentage and ground balls per game, and he kept that up against Johnny Richiusa (5-of-17) and Jack Fine (4-of-11). The Orange got crushed in the GB battle, 32-19.

The face-offs and the penalties were the only real negatives on the night, outside of the bad start. SU did commit eight penalties in the game, part of a troubling trend that has seen them commit 28 penalties in the last five games. Fortunately, the man-down unit was once again strong, holding the Pride to just 2-of-8 with the extra man. The Orange EMO unit went 3-of-5.

The Orange will take the rest of spring break off before returning to action next Tuesday, March 21 back in the JMA Dome for their first ever meeting with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at 6 PM on ACC Network Extra (thank goodness).