With buzz around the new guy, the Orange focus on returning players

After a disappointing 2012 season, the Syracuse men's lacrosse team looks to improve in 2013 with the addition of a young transfer and lots of returning veterans

A lot of the talk around Syracuse’s men’s lacrosse team before the 2013 season has been about the new additions, specifically a big transfer from the University of North Carolina. Head coach John Desko, though, prefers to focus on returning players from last year.


“Last year’s team was very young, and this year’s team comes back still a little bit young, but a lot more experienced,” Desko said at the team’s annual media day on Jan 8. “That will make us a smarter, more competitive group going into the upcoming season.”

Photo: Drew Shapiro
Head coach John Desko speaks to reporters following practice Jan. 22.

Despite the struggles last year, the Orange return a number of players from a team that slogged to a 9-8 finish. But the accumulated experience will be vital going forward, Desko said. 


“You wrestle with who we are, the style we like to play,” he added. “I think we stayed true to that last year as much as we could. Some staffs might’ve changed it, tried to be slower, stall the ball and be more disciplined with it. But they were a young group, and we knew they were going to make some mistakes.”


One newcomer that has attracted significant buzz is attackman Nicky Galasso. The junior transfer from UNC sat out most of last year with a foot injury after winning ACC freshman of the year and U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association third team All-American accolades. Galasso’s presence will boost an occasionally lackluster offense from a year ago.


“He looked pretty athletic, and I think we’ll see more as time goes on here,” Desko said of Galasso. “We hope for more. If you look at home in high school and at Carolina, he did some great things. We’re really hoping he can pick up where he left off here, and come back healthy after the injuries last year.”


Galasso, a native of West Islip, N.Y., said he is excited to be back in his home state and at a storied program.


“I’m a very big lacrosse player, and I was at a point where I needed to make a change,” Galasso said at media day. “I came to Syracuse, and decided it would be the best fit for me.”


The 6-foot, 195-pound attackman had six goals and three assists in a shortened sophomore year, a year after totaling a UNC-record 56 points on 24 goals and 32 assists. A dodgy and elusive player, Galasso also thrives in getting the ball to his open teammates for the score.


“I just feel like my type of play is to get everybody involved, be a feeder and get my teammates involved,” Galasso said. “I’m a very unselfish player. I feel like if we get all players involved, we can be productive. That’s the only thing I wish for: I want to get comfortable with everyone, and make an impact where ever I can.”


Galasso joins a team that led by the staple of 2012’s offense in senior Jojo Marasco, who led last year’s midfielders in points with 12 goals and 19 assists.


“It’s good to see that no guys took a break off,” said Marasco, who was drafted by the New York Lizards in the 2013 Major League Lacrosse draft. “We worked hard, we came to play, and we’re really excited about the season. We’re going to keep pushing each other, give no excuses and keep pushing ourselves.”


The Orange will build from the backline of returning starters, including team captain Brian Megill. That cohesiveness is a significant advantage for Syracuse, Megill said.


“They jelled right away,” said Megill, who was selected by the Denver Outlaws in the first round of the MLL draft. “That’s really never a problem here at Syracuse. As soon as the new guys come in, it’s like we’re best friends.”


Megill knows his defense will need to be the rock, especially early in the season. But the presence of presumed starting goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell behind him will add to their confidence.


“Defensively, we have all the same guys back,” Megill said. “The chemistry’s there, and we really work well with each other.”

Both Marasco and Megill said this year’s squad is trying to keep a focus on each game as it happens. But Megill added the goal for Syracuse lacrosse remains the same.


“Of course, the goal is always (to be playing) Memorial Day weekend,” Megill said.

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