clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse Lacrosse: Previewing the 2017 Orange season

The Syracuse Orange open up its season on Saturday against Siena. The ‘Cuse is looking to make a run in the NCAA Tournament after getting bounced by Maryland last season.

NCAA Lacrosse: Quarterfinals- Syracuse-Johns Hopkins Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The pieces may be different but the question is the same as last year, how will the attack line shape up? For the second year in a row the Syracuse Orange will be looking to fill holes in its starting attack line. In 2016 we wondered whether SU could replace Randy Staats and Kevin Rice, and which players would step up to fill the void. Jordan Evans made the move from the midfield to attack, while Tim Barber certainly made a huge leap. Of course it didn’t hurt to have Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido explode on the first line midfield. Yet this year we are back in the same position.

With Dylan Donahue and Tim Barber graduating, the Orange lost 104 points at attack. Jordan Evans returns after a 27 goal and eight assist 2016. Jordan’s career has been overshadowed by the massive expectations that followed him since he came to Syracuse, a downside of being named the top recruit in a class.

Trap Game: Hobart

Syracuse will be coming off the toughest stretch of the season, playing at Johns Hopkins, Duke, and at Notre Dame before the Orange visit Hobart for the Krauss-Simmons Trophy. The Hobart Statesmen were picked first tied with the Bryant Bulldogs in the NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. SU hasn’t lost to Hobart since the 2013 season, but the Statesmen always come out for this rivalry game.

Biggest Conference Game: Duke

While the games against UNC and Notre Dame will be toughest ACC contests, the Duke game may be the most important. The Duke Blue Devils have some big losses to graduation coming into the year. I expect SU to have a close win against Virginia, and losses to Notre Dame and UNC, so beating Duke would be a big one for the resume. The Dukies fell to Air Force at home last weekend in a thrilling 10-11 matchup but has suffered similar early season troubles in the past and been able to recover so don’t take too much away from that game.

Early Season Test: Albany

The Great Danes lost Blaze Riorden to graduation and are without Seth Oakes after he left the team but will bring back Connor Fields and his 161 career points to the Carrier Dome. Albany was unanimously selected first overall in the America East Coaches’ Poll.

Prediction:

Syracuse has all the right pieces. There is a big crop of talented freshman, several of whom have the potential to step up right away and make an impact. The midfield is deep, especially with the addition of Brendan Bomberry. The specialist positions are locked up. Ben Williams is arguably the best faceoff guy in the country and he is backed up by the very capable Cal Paduda. Evan Molloy has shown he has the ability to be the guy in the crease and there is a long line of strong netminders behind him. Defensively, Syracuse returns Preseason All-ACC selection Nick Mellen, the only sophomore to make the list. Mellen is one of the most athletic and quick defenders in the country and has already proven that he can handle covering a number one attackman.

The question is not who can play but more so, how all of the offensive pieces can best fit together.

With UNC returning a very similar team from last year’s National Championship and Notre Dame looking like one of the top teams in the country, I have a hard time thinking that the Orange will get a third straight ACC Championship. As for the NCAA Tournament, it is so hard to predict because matchups are such a big part of it.

I think the best case for Syracuse is an 11-2 regular season while the worst case is 8-5. Ultimately, I believe we could see a 10-3 regular season. Here’s my breakdown:

Wins: Siena Saints, Albany Great Danes, Army Black Knights, Virginia Cavaliers, St. John’s, Duke Blue Devils, Hobart Statesmen, Cornell Big Red, Binghamton Bearcats, Colgate Red Raiders

Losses: Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, North Carolina Tar Heels

Earlier in the week I was optimistic that the Orange could get the win at Johns Hopkins, however on Tuesday the Jays took down Navy 15-8. Joel Tinney is back after being sidelined for a violation of NCAA rules last season and he had a hat trick in his first game returning to the field. Wilkins Dismuke and Patrick Fraser also had three goals a piece while Shack Stanwick and John Crawley each had two goals and two assists. It also appears that Hopkins has found a its goalie in graduate student transfer Gerald Logan who played at Michigan. Either way, this will once again be a very competitive game.

ATTACK

Jordan Evans came to ‘Cuse with massive expectation. That’s just what happens when you are a local product and named the top recruit in the country. Of course it didn’t help that he was given the #22. A lot of the criticism that has come Evans’ way over the last few years is mostly due to these high expectations. With 27 goals and eight assists in 2016 it’s hard to call Jordan Evans a disappointment. Nevertheless, my big worry with him are the turnovers, not the amount but the timing. It was hoped he could be the quarterback of the offense after Dylan Donahue’s departure, but I think we will see him split that role with Nate Solomon.

Nick Mariano transferred from UMass to Syracuse in 2015. He killed it as a midfielder last season with 35 goals, 11 assists, and 46 points. Mariano is a tremendous dodger and I believe we will see him starting at the attack to begin the season. The senior played midfield last year after transferring from UMass where he played attack. Coming out of Yorktown Heights, NY he was the 34th rated recruit by Inside Lacrosse. His ability to play both positions well makes him a very versatile piece and if Brad Voigt is able to break through Mariano could move back to the midfield.

I have huge hopes for Nate Solomon. He got into 15 games last year, putting up eight goals and two assists. It appears he is being groomed to lead the offense of the future, and I think we will see a lot of him running the offense. In a recent interview Solomon said: “It’s more about me carrying the ball, I guess, and quarterbacking the team.” He’s been working a lot with Jordan Evans and getting a better understanding of how to lead from behind the net.

Gale Thorpe is out for the season after suffering a lower body injury in practice. I think the Orange were planning to lean on Thorpe a lot this season, so this is a big loss.

MIDFIELD

Sergio Salcido’s emergence was huge for the Orange last season. It took 27 games before Salcido tallied his first career goal but Salcido went on to have 29 in 2016. There is no question that Salcido will be on the starting midfield. I am curious to see how Salcido plays without Mariano on his line.

Brendan Bomberry transferred to Syracuse this summer from the Denver Pioneers in order to be closer to home and his newborn. In addition, Brendan is the cousin of current SU player Tyson Bomberry. In 2016, Bomberry led the country in man-up goals with 11 for the Pios. In last weekend’s scrimmage versus Harvard, Brendan had a goal and two assists. According to Desko, he’s been running with the first line this preseason and I would expect this to continue into the opening game against Siena.

I got so frustrated with Matt Lane during the NCAA Tournament game against Maryland last season. He is a massive individual at 6’6” and has the ability to launch rockets from outside. I would like to see better shot selection from him this year while Desko is looking for Lane to be a better dodger.

Henry Grass transferred from Johns Hopkins to Syracuse over the summer. The sophomore did not play in a game for the Hop but was ranked as the 38th best freshman overall and 12th best freshman attackman in his recruiting class by Inside Lacrosse. It’s unclear how he will fit into the lineup. Also, you should watch out for Peter Dearth and Jamie Trimboli who could have an immediate impact.

FACEOFF

Ben WIlliams. Ben. Williams.

DEFENSE

We all know Nick Mellen. He started almost every game last year tallying 14 caused turnovers and 38 groundballs in 2016. The West Genesee graduate is a very athletic defenseman with great footwork, but his downside is his size. The sophomore is 5’9” and 178 lbs. so while he may be the best defenseman on the roster, the size of some of the attackman in the ACC may limit who he can match up with. He will be relied on heavily this year as the most experienced longpole. There’s a good chance Mellen will not play in the season opener against Siena as he is still working back in after an injury.

Marcus Cunningham has one start in his career, the 2016 game against the Cornell Big Red when he started in place of the ailing Nick Mellen. Cunningham picked up his only two caused turnovers in the game against Cornell and had three groundballs in the matchup versus Siena last year.

Scott Firman, a long-stick midfielder, has been taking runs with the defense in the preseason. The #17 recruit in the 2013 class as rated by Inside Lacrosse has had a pretty good career at Syracuse so far. The senior is seventh in career caused turnovers at Syracuse with 32 and has 66 groundballs through 46 games played in three years. With the losses of Brandon Mullins and Jay McDermott it’s nice to have talented LSM Tyson Bomberry on the roster to take over the LSM position if Firman is used more at close defense. Keep in mind, the Orange also have redshirt sophomore Austin Fusco who can help out Firman and Bomberry at the LSM position.

Tyson Bomberry is another Six Nations guy who played high school ball at McKinnon Park and Avon Old Farms. He saw some action in four games last season but didn’t record any stats. The word on Tyson Bomberry is that he has great stick work, and is an aggressive and physical defender. He is 6’ tall and weighs 219 lbs. I have very high hopes for him. In the case that Mellen is not ready for the start of the season, I would expect Bomberry to join Cunningham and Firman on the first line defense.

If the Orange work in a rotation, look for Nicholas DiPietro to get some time at close defense. DiPietro was ranked as the 50th incoming recruit for the 2016 class by Inside Lacrosse.

GOAL

Evan Molloy will return as the starting goalie after taking over the position from Warren Hill midway through last season. In the preseason scrimmages, the Senior picked up seven saves against Hofstra and allowed four goals while he made 10 saves against Harvard. Molloy’s best attribute is his communication, that was the biggest difference between Hill and Molloy last year and it was extremely noticeable. Molloy stumbled in the NCAA Tournament against the Maryland Terrapins when he made just four saves on 17 shots on goal. However in the ACC Tournament he was electric, picking up 27 combined saves in the two games and being named the ACC Tournament MVP.

Syracuse has a slew of excellent talent at the goaltender position. Senior Dom Madonna played at Liverpool but made his way to Syracuse after transferring from DII Merrimac College in Massachusetts. Madonna split time in the scrimmages against Hofstra and Le Moyne, grabbing seven combined saves. Freshman Drake Porter got some time in the scrimmages making a save against Le Moyne and one against Harvard. Porter was ranked as the eleventh best incoming goalie by Inside Lacrosse. Willie Klan, another transfer, spent his freshman year at Ohio State after being ranked as the 24th best incoming freshman and the third best goalie by IL. The final goalie on the roster is freshman Luke Strang.

We have a big year of college lacrosse slated, so get ready! Tell us your expectations in the comment section and let me know what y'all think!

Syracuse will host the Siena Saints on Saturday February 11 at 4 PM. The game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network Extra and can be heard on TK99/105.