After an exciting opening weekend of lacrosse for the Syracuse Orange, I wanted to sit down and give you some of my takeaways from Saturday’s 19-6 win over the Siena Saints. While Siena is not at the same level of competitiveness as future opponents, there are certainly some things we can learn from this game.
Oh and as a complete aside, and at the risk of you questioning my opinions, I watched a couple episodes of Stranger Things....eh.
1. Nate Solomon is the next dominant offensive player for Syracuse
We saw a lot of King Solomon against Siena, and what we saw was very impressive. He tied Brendan Bomberry for a team high four goals. Solomon showed us he can catch tough passes in tight quarters, he has good field awareness, and can find ways to get open on the crease. He is developing nicely into a big time threat.
2. Jordan Evans fits in nicely with this group
While Mariano may be a better scorer, Evans is settling in nicely to the quarterback role. Most impressive were the shots he did not take. On several occasions we saw Evans forgo a shot opportunity to make one more pass for an easier opportunity from another player. That is exactly what we need him to do. At about 8:07 in the third, a deflected Syracuse shot rolled into the back corner. Siena goalie Aaron Lewis came out of the net and grabbed it. Lewis attempted to start the clear but Evans came out to him and was able to throw a successful stick check to knock the ball loose and get it to Nick Mariano for an empty netter. Maybe the best play from Evans all game who had seven groundballs to add to his three goals and five assists. At the press conference Evans said, “I told him [Mariano] that this is the best I’ve played with, like, a duo since I’ve been here. I think it was nice to have Nick back at attack and I think it’s good to have someone else who really knows the game inside out and knows where to be at the right time and I think we’re finding each other early on and it was good to see.”
3. Brendan Bomberry will explode this year
Well after the first game, we have a goal of the year contender.
. Want to see more goals like this? Catch 2 top-13 teams square off on Saturday when Albany visits the Dome https://t.co/76OONRWl4Q— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 12, 2017
The Denver transfer had a tremendous game on Saturday picking up four goals in his debut for the Orange. The junior had 19 goals and 14 assists last year at Denver including a nation leading 11 extra man goals. He has box experience and plays well around the net. I expect Brendan to significantly surpass his 2016 totals. In commenting on the fantastic behind the net goal he had in which he was able to steal the ball from the Siena goalie, Bomberry said “…It’s just instincts for me.” Well his instincts are very good.
“I think he has a great understanding of the game,” said Coach Dekso after the game. “He just has a good feel for where the spacing is, where he should be in certain situations and he’s really good at finding open players in tight situations...”
4. The Defense needs Nick Mellen
Desko mentioned that he was unhappy with some of the early goals allowed in the game, specifically talking about one goal where SU was trying to get a matchup and left a guy open and another where a defender slid too early to help and left a guy open on the crease. To me, these sound like communication mistakes and it will certainly help to have the experienced Mellen back on defense, but as Dekso said after the game, it is unlikely we will see him this week again.
5. I want Nick Mariano to stay at attack
Whenever Paul Carcaterra talks about the attack position at Syracuse he always mentions how the Orange always have always had an “alpha” guy. A couple of years ago that guy was Kevin Rice. A Leader on the field, he was cool under pressure but he could also get fiery. I still remember that cheap hit Austin Pifani put on Hakeem Lecky during the regular season game in 2015 against UNC and Rice was right there getting into it. Last year it was Dylan Donahue who led the offense and this season it looks like Nick Mariano is stepping into that role. I absolutely love the attitude that Mariano plays with. In the second quarter against Siena, Saints goaltender Aaron Lewis put a late on Mariano after the whistle. After looking at the referee Mariano got up and got right into Lewis’ face. The netminder went off for a minute on a unnecessary roughness penalty and it was Mariano who made him pay on the man-up opportunity. I get the feeling that he may be the emotional leader of this team and I want him on the field as much as possible.
6. Tyson Bomberry is for real
In the second quarter against Siena the sophomore snagged a bouncing groundball off of a Siena dropped pass, scooped it up and trucked down field. Bomberry had three groundballs and a caused turnover in Saturday’s contest and that is exactly what I am expecting out of him. He’s very active on defense with a lot of stick checks and good on the groundballs. We’ll probably see him move back to long stick midfield when Mellen returns but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rotate in on close defense. Also of note, Bomberry put a massive hit on a Siena player midway through the third quarter. While it earned him a one minute unnecessary roughness penalty, I liked the aggressiveness.
7. Ben Williams will still be dominant but opponents will be better against him
When Ben Williams arrived on campus he was dominant from the start with a .674 faceoff winning percentage in 2015. That percentage dipped last season to .622. As teams gather more and more tape on Williams it is natural that they will begin to figure him out. He took 15 of 22 faceoffs this past weekend but don’t be surprised if his success falters a little bit this year, especially against ACC opponents.