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Syracuse Lacrosse: Four Orange Named to All-ACC Team

Four Syracuse players found a spot on the 2016 All-Atlantic Coast Conference team. Surprisingly enough, however, Ben Williams and his Conference leading .642 faceoff winning percentage did not make the cut.

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The ACC coaches have spoken as the league released its All-Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Lacrosse Team on Wednesday. The Syracuse Orange have four players featured on the list. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and North Carolina Tar Heels each scored five players while the Duke Blue Devils had three players named and the Virginia Cavaliers only got one name featured. Here is the full rundown:


Justin Guterding, Duke

Steve Pontrello, UNC

Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame

Dylan Donahue, Syracuse


Deemer Class, Duke

Myles Jones, Duke

Mike Tagliaferri, UNC

Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame

Sergio Salcido, Syracuse

Nick Mariano, Syracuse

Jake Matthai, UNC (SSM)


Michael Howard, UVA

John Sexton, Notre Dame


Stephen Kelly, UNC


Austin Pifani, UNC

Matt Landis, Notre Dame

Brandon Mullins, Syracuse


Shane Doss, Notre Dame

If you told me before the season started that a guy named Sergio would be on this list I would have assumed we were talking about Sergio Perkovic (Notre Dame). However, both Perkovic and Sergio Salcido got the nod, I am so glad the coaches acknowledged Salcido for his efforts this year. In his first two years at ‘Cuse he had zero goals and five assists, with all five coming in 2015. He really came out of nowhere to be a major force for this offense with 21 goals and 13 assists. He's tied with Jordan Evans for the best shooting percentage on this Syracuse team. Salcido has an explosive first step and is probably the fastest guy on the team. Salcido, while a very good dodger, also can shoot the long-ball. His emergence has created a matchup problem for most opponents who now have to choose to either pole Nick Mariano or Salcido.

Speaking of Mariano, his arrival on campus was somewhat quiet. Mariano was the leading assist and point scorer in 2015 at UMass, and was tied for the leading goal scorer on the team. At Syracuse, however, he isn't being asked to distribute the ball like he was at UMass. Additionally, opponents have to worry about Dylan Donahue, Tim Barber and Sergio Salcido so he is no longer the biggest offensive threat on the field, freeing him up. Mariano is tied with Jack Bruckner (Duke), Donahue, and James Pannell (UVA) for the second most man-up goals in the ACC with five. Together, Donahue and Mariano have combined for more than half of SU's EMO goals. Mariano likes to dodge from the alley. He doesn't mind getting physical on the dodge but can pull back and fire with a nice outside shot. He plays with attitude and we've seen him get chippy a few times.

With a starting midfield line of Mariano, Salcido, and Derek DeJoe, Syracuse provides a dynamic mix of speed, physicality, and outside shooting ability. I don't know if Mariano will stay at midfield next year or move to his natural position of attack. Personally, I'd love to see him stay at the midfield, but with Tim Barber and Dylan Donahue graduating, I'm not sure the Orange will be able to afford to keep him running midfield. That will all depend on the development of Nate Solomon, Gale Thorpe, Matt Lane, Devin Shewell, and Brad Voigt.

Dylan Donahue made the list this year, but not for the reason you would assume. We've watched him go from a 50-goal scorer in 2015 to a guy that this year is more focused on distributing the ball. Donahue has never had a year in which he had more assists than goals, but right now he has 27 assists and 21 goals. In the ACC, he is tied for the fourth most points of any player along with Jack Bruckner (Duke), and Steve Pontrello (UNC) and has the second most assists of any player in the conference.

Finally, we have Brandon Mullins. The senior had a fantastic game against Carolina two weeks ago, and his 22 caused turnovers are second in the ACC. When Mullins is on, there's no question he is one of the best lock-down defensemen in the country. When he's off, however, and he has been several times this and last year, he can be a liability. The good news is that since Dylan Molloy took over netminder duties, the defense, including Mullins, have been on point, and hopefully that continues into the ACC Tourney.

If we are going to talk about any snubs for Syracuse, the faceoff selection jumps immediately off the page. Here's the breakdown between Stephen Kelly and Ben Williams:

Stephen Kelly

Ben Williams

Season Faceoff Winning %

184-309 (.595)

170-265 (.642)

Season Groundballs



Vs. Duke

20-35 (.571)

12-28 (.429)

Vs. Hopkins

17-25 (.680)

13-24 (.542)


17-25 (.680)

18-29 (.621)

Vs. Notre Dame

19-35 (.543)

11-24 (.458)

Vs. Each Other

8-24 (.333)

16-24 (.666)

Williams is not the only ACC faceoff guy to have a better winning percentage than Kelly. Kyle Rowe of Duke and Jason Murphy of UVA also have significantly better winning percentages than Kelly. Against common opponents, Kelly has a better winning percentage, but when Williams and Kelly went up head-to-head, Williams fared significantly better. That being said, Kelly and Williams are clearly on the same level, anyone who watched that SU-Carolina game can tell you that. In terms of groundballs, Kelly has more but has also taken 44 more faceoffs this season. I don't love the pick, but I can definitely wrap my head around it. I would be more comfortable with this if Kelly's results against Williams in their head-to-head matchup had been better.

Moving on to the defense, I think Nick Mellen has been one of the best surprises for Syracuse this year. He's got 11 caused turnovers as a freshman and is a machine in the groundball game with 29, second on the Syracuse squad in each category. Is he a top three defenseman in the ACC? No. Will he get there in his career? Yes.

The Syracuse Orange will face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round of the ACC Tournament at 6 PM on Friday. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on TK99. Of course you can always follow me @OrangeLax for updates.