It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the final day of the regular season for the 2023 Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team.
It was just under three months ago that Gary Gait’s second season at the helm of his alma mater got underway, and 12 weeks later it will almost certainly come to a close today on the road against the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils.
The game is set for a 12 PM face-off and will be televised on ESPNU.
The 8-6 Orange are on the extreme fringes of the NCAA Tournament conversation. Even a win in this game wouldn’t get them in without all the right dominos falling into place elsewhere around the country.
Although their SOS sits at 3, their current RPI is 21 and that’s just way too high a number to factor in as is. The other teams SU is competing with on the bubble are more in the 9-14 range of RPI as of now, so they’ve most likely got too much ground to make up.
Regardless, this is still an important game to close out the season. I personally feel that the season has already been a success even with a loss in this game, but it would be a great feeling for this program to pick up another huge road win heading into next season with the majority of the roster returning in 2024.
- All-time series: 22 meetings, Syracuse leads, 14-8
- Last meeting: Duke W, 14-13 (OT) on March 5, 2023
- Duke this season: 11-2, 4-1 ACC
Since we last saw Duke in early March, the Blue Devils have been on a tear as they’ve gone 6-1 with a pair of wins over Virginia and decisive wins over Loyola and North Carolina. Their only blemish is a five-goal loss to the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Notre Dame.
They had a bye last weekend, so we can only hope they’re a little rusty having not played in two weeks.
Duke’s No. 5 scoring offense in the nation (15.23 goals per game) is led by their attacking trio of Brennan O’Neill (38G, 27A), Andrew McAdorey (26G, 19A) and Dyson Williams (41G, 3A), who are by far their three highest scorers.
O’Neill is one of the best players in the country and is a physical force to deal with at 6’2”, 225 pounds with a hammer of a shot to match. Williams is one of the game’s elite finishers, sitting at ninth in the nation in shooting percentage (.477) and 14th in the nation in goals per game (3.15).
Garrett Leadmon (20G, 5A), Charles Balsamo (15G, 8A), Aidan Danenza (15G, 7A), and Owen Caputo (13G, 13A) lead a solid group of midfielders. Balsamo scored the overtime winner in the first game.
Jake Naso is one of the best FOGOs in the country. He’s fifth in the nation with a .633 win percentage, and is tied for tops in the nation in total FO wins with 221. He’s also ninth in the nation in GBs per game (8.62). In the first game, Naso won 21-of-30 face-offs as Duke bombarded the Syracuse defense with 66 total shots.
The Duke defense is led by a couple big, physical close defenders in Kenny Brower (27GB, 12CT), who did a nice job defending Joey Spallina in the first meeting, and Wilson Stephenson (44GB, 19CT). LSM Tyler Carpenter (44GB, 11CT) is one of the best in the country, as well.
Goalie William Helm has started every game and has been a strong presence between the pipes for the Blue Devils with a .514 save percentage and a 11.00 goals-against average.