For the third straight year in a row, John Desko has been named the ACC’s Coach of the Year. The Syracuse Orange are in position to have its first one-loss regular season since 2011 (one regular season game versus the Colgate Red Raiders remains). If SU beats Colgate this weekend it will be the fourth time in the Desko era that Syracuse had just one regular season loss (2000, 2010, 2011).
Obviously we have heard a lot of the #fireDesko in the last few years, but this may be the head boss’ best coaching job ever. The 2017 Preseason Coaches’ Poll picked Syracuse to finish third in the Conference. Syracuse came into the year down a defenseman with the loss of stud long-pole Nick Mellen, yet the defense has been the steadiest part of this team all year long. Furthermore, take a look at the transfers whom Desko has managed to bring to Syracuse. Ben Williams transferred from Holy Cross a few years ago and has been one of the best faceoff guys in the country. Nick Mariano was pulled in from UMass and is the leading goal and point scorer on the team. Brendan Bomberry found his way to the ‘Cuse from Denver and has 23 goals and eight assists this year. Finally, there’s redshirt freshman Stephen Rehfuss who has ten goals on the year and is looking more and more like the future of the offense. You can say that the Orange faltered in attracting good freshman talent in recent years, but it’s really centered around that 2014 class. Otherwise, look at the young talent he has attracted. Nick Mellen will be around for three more years and should be a rock for the defense. I would expect redshirt freshman Andrew Helmer to be alongside Mellen in the future. Jamie Trimboli has ten goals in his freshman year and fellow freshman Peter Dearth could be a big part of the future. Then there is Danny Varello who has shown he can win at the faceoff X.
Desko swapped and switched around his attackman and midfielders a ton this year, trying to find the best fit. Coming into the season, there was no clear solution to fill the hole that Dylan Donahue left, but Desko has fit this offense together like a puzzle. It hasn’t always been pretty but this team certainly has heart and that starts at the top.
For the second time in three years, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year will go to a Syracuse player. Two years ago it was Kevin Rice and in 2017 it is Sergio Salcido who takes home the league’s top offensive honor. Salcido has 30 assists along with 15 goals. The senior has 17 points in regular season, league play, and 22 points in all games against the ACC. He is first in assists per game in the ACC and ninth nationally in the same statistic. Remember, this is a guy who didn’t score a goal until his junior year and at one point had a conversation with the coaching staff about transferring to a school where he might be able to play. It’s an incredible story of a kid from a non-hotbed area who elevated his game and became one of the best in the country.
The Defensive Player of the Year went to Austin Pifani of the North Carolina Tar Heels while the Freshman of the Year was awarded to Michael Kraus of the Virginia Cavaliers.