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Syracuse men’s lacrosse: Fluid offense leads Orange to season-opening win over Vermont

Three separate hat-tricks and success at the X highlighted a strong start to the 2024 season.

Syracuse and Vermont players meet at mid field prior to the start of the season opener.
Photo by Michael Ostrowski

Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse has high expectations this season, and today’s first impressions of Gary Gait’s team show why they’re rated so high. After a slow first five minutes, SU exploded for 12 first-half goals, including nine in the second period, to fly past Vermont 20-7.

Sophomores Joey Spallina and Luke Rhoa, and grad-transfer Christian Mulé all had hat-tricks, and Will Mark defended the cage and stopped 11/18 shots on goal.

The Catamounts struck first thanks to a bouncing shot from Tristan Whitaker, which just made it over the stick of Mark. But the Orange response was swift.

Mulé got the home squad on the board thanks to a pinpoint feed from Finn Thomson:

Luke Rhoa followed that up by finding daylight in the middle of the field, splitting Vermont’s defense and tucking it right past George Egan for the first lead of the season.

Then it was Joey Spallina’s turn. He had been denied by a fantastic diving effort earlier in the period, but it wouldn’t happen twice, as #22 went near side and beat Egan for his first of the new campaign.

The Orange opened things up in the second period, starting with five in a row from Jack Stevens, Sam English, Mulé, defenseman Billy Dwan, and Rhoa.

Following a brief response from the Catamounts, which featured one even-strength goal and another on the man advantage, it was time for the hats to fly... metaphorically, at least.

First Owen Hiltz lobbed a pass over the net for Mulé to bury, then Rhoa took a feed from Spallina - one of four assists - for his third goal.

Right before halftime, Thomson again set up an Orange goal, this time with an absolutely beautiful behind-the-back pass.

SU led 12-5 at halftime, and in case you were worried they might let their foot off the gas, Spallina said “no way” to that:

Every statistical category seemed to come up Orange on Saturday:

  • Shots were 50-30
  • Shots on goal read 29-19
  • SU had 30 ground balls to Vermont’s 18
  • 21 of 31 faceoffs went to the Orange

The only real area ‘Cuse struggled was while down a man, conceding three goals in five instances.

It’ll be a short turnaround for SU, who next host Colgate Monday night at 6. They’ve also got two more home games next weekend and, counting today, seven overall before they leave the 3-1-5. That’s the longest stretch at home to start a season in program history.