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Syracuse men’s lacrosse: Orange make big splash, get two Princeton players from transfer portal

It’s a good day to be a slightly deeper shade of Orange.

Colgate v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The 2023 season isn’t even fully done yet, but the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team has already made a huge splash in the transfer portal for 2024.

On Tuesday evening, it was revealed that the Orange have picked up commitments for next season from former Princeton Tiger midfielders Jake Stevens and Sam English, according to Inside Lacrosse’s Ty Xanders.

Per Xanders’ reporting, the decisions to commit to SU were actually rumored to have been made late last year (December) before this season started, but could not fully be publicly confirmed until just yesterday. The reason for this is due to the Ivy League’s rule that prohibits graduate students from taking part in intercollegiate athletics, which in this case led to nine Princeton seniors entering the transfer portal back in November with an eye on the 2024 season. But with respect towards the Tigers’ 2023 season, the seniors decided not to announce their intentions for next year until after this season ended. Now that it has, those nine seniors can start to announce their graduate plans for next year.

As for the Orange, this is huge news to add a pair of veteran midfielders to their already stacked offensive lineup. Stevens and English should pretty effectively fill the gap left by the departure of this past year’s graduate transfers, Cole Kirst and Alex Simmons.

So, who is ‘Cuse getting in these two formers Tigers? Let’s take a closer look.

First and foremost, you will notice a pattern in a large portion of SU’s transfer portal activity in the past two summers. Just like Alex Simmons last year, Jake Stevens and Sam English are both Canadian born players who went to high school at lacrosse power Culver Military Academy in Indiana. There, they were all high school teammates with Owen Hiltz, who is also Canadian and went to Culver; as did redshirt junior midfielder Johnny Cohen. So, the heavy Canadian influence on the Syracuse offense will happily continue under Gary Gait next year.

Jake Stevens (5’9”, 185) is a very versatile, do-everything kind of midfielder, which includes being an excellent shooter. This past season, he finished fourth on Princeton with 29 points and third with 24 goals. He led their primary offensive players in shooting percentage at 41.4 percent. Going back to his versatility, he also played on the wings of face-offs for the Tigers, which led to him finishing second on the team last season with 35 ground balls.

He is a typical Canadian finisher who needs very little space to operate and get his shot off. He was named an honorable mention All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine this past year, and in 2022 he was named a third team All-American by Inside Lacrosse.

Sam English (6’1”, 180) is a high-level initiator from the midfield who had a difficult season in 2023 that was marred by injury, ironically at the hands of Syracuse. If you remember back to the ‘Cuse—Princeton game this season, he collided with Landon Clary on the first possession of the game, and suffered a ruptured spleen as a result of that collision. He spent four nights in the hospital (according to his Princeton bio) and missed the rest of the season.

Despite missing the final six games, he still finished the year tied for sixth on Princeton with 20 points and third on the team with 13 assists. That’s not too shabby for a guy who only played in nine of the team’s 15 games.

While last year was something of a lost season for him, in 2022 he showed how much he’s capable of when he posted 30 goals and 18 assists, finishing third on the team in both points (48) and goals (30), and second in assists (18). He was an All-Ivy selection and an honorable mention All-American from Inside Lacrosse for those efforts.

This is an exciting day for the program as the young guns of the ‘Cuse offense in Joey Spallina, Owen Hiltz, Finn Thomson, Michael Leo, Jackson Birtwistle and Luke Rhoa have once again gotten an infusion of graduate talent to run alongside them in Stevens and English. Add in a few notable freshman such as attackman Trey Deere (Salisbury) and midfielder Wyatt Hottle (Calvert Hall), and the Orange offense is getting awfully crowded awfully fast in 2024.

And now, we wait on the face-off and pole additions for next year.

Welcome to Syracuse, Jake and Sam!