All of the talking, wondering and anticipation has been leading to this.
We’re just one day away from the start of the 2024 lacrosse season as the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team is set to host the Vermont Catamounts on Saturday at 4 PM on the ACC Network.
It’s the second straight year the Orange have opened the season at home against Vermont, and they’ll be looking for a more convincing way to start this campaign than last year’s 7-5 slop-fest win in which the Catamounts briefly held a one-goal lead late in the third quarter.
- Series history: Syracuse leads, 2-0
- Last meeting: Syracuse win, 7-5, on February 4, 2023
- Vermont last season: 9-5 overall, 7-0 America East; lost in AE semifinals to Albany, 10-4
Vermont had a great year in 2023, going undefeated in conference regular season play, before falling apart in a crushing loss as the No. 1 seed in the America East semifinals.
They’re back with another good team this year, as they were recently picked to finish second behind Bryant in the America East preseason poll by the league’s head coaches.
The Catamounts return three of their top four scorers from last year’s team, highlighted by leading scorer Brock Haley (31G, 21A, 52P). Not among their top four scorers last year is Jonas Hunter, who played in three games before missing the rest of the season. But, Hunter is a dangerous weapon, as BU found out last year when he scored seven points to lead his team to victory over them. Haley and Hunter are the leaders, and Tristan Whitaker (16G, 11A, 27P) and Carson Boyle (18G, 3A, 21P) are also back as the third and fourth leading scorers from 2023.
Defensively, they’re led by SSDM Patrick Murphy, who was First Team All-America East for the second straight year last season, and close defender Tim Manning, the lone returning team captain and a player who has started every game the last four years.
Probably the biggest blow to UVM coming off last year is the loss of their FOGO Tommy Burke, one of the best in the country who chose to spend his graduate year at Ohio State. Burke was outstanding, winning 64.8 percent of his takes last year, although he only went 9-of-16 in the opening game against ‘Cuse.
Here’s what head coach Gary Gait had to say on his team’s opening matchup:
“I think we’re going to see a totally different team (this year). We’re definitely a different team, but not dramatically. I think they have more change than we do; they lost some of their top players who transferred to other schools. But, they’re a well-coached team that’s going to be ready to play. They gave us a battle last year, and I’m hoping that we step on that field and we’re excited and we get 100% effort, but more than that I hope we can execute in all the areas that we’ve been practicing”.
The time of waiting to see that execution in action, for Gait and all of us, is just about over.