Defense-first lacrosse pays off for Syracuse

In their final tune-up game before the season opener, the Orange men’s lacrosse team shut down a solid Maryland squad 10-7.

Syracuse’s defensive unit performed admirably in the first half, limiting Maryland’s high-octane offense to just seven shots. Junior goalkeeper John Galloway was solid, allowing only one goal in the half. Junior defender John Lade provided excellent leadership, picking off several passes during key Terrapin possessions and quickly sending the ball back to the offensive side.

Photo: Dan Mennuto
Sophomore Kevin Drew sprints up field after getting the ball off a Maryland turnover.

The strong defensive presence for the Orange allowed a less experienced midfield unit to relax and slow the game down to a comfortable speed. Focusing first on possession, Syracuse’s offense wasn’t able to consistently put the ball past starting goalkeeper Brian Phipps, but its near-constant ball possession prevented the Terrapins from getting many quality scoring chances.

Most of Syracuse’s offensive chances started in the defensive zone, using their fast transition game to surprise Maryland’s defense, who struggled to keep up at times. Early in the second quarter, midfielder Jeremy Thompson was alone behind the Syracuse net, defending a Maryland attacker. Thompson forced a loose ball, recovered it and quickly sent it downfield. Ryan Barber faked high and stuck it between Phipps’ legs to make it 2-0 Syracuse.

The most memorable moment of the game came with less than a minute to go in the first half. Galloway chased a loose ball toward the sideline, where he was hit hard by a Maryland midfielder. With no goalie in net, Lade and Brian Megill frustrated the Terps’ offense’s efforts to corral the ground ball. A Maryland middie ended up with possession at point-blank range, but Galloway, diving across the crease, got the top of his stick on the ball. The save gave Syracuse a boost heading into the break.

In the second half, the midfielders and attack got a chance to shine, taking advantage of Maryland’s backup Mark White by putting four goals past him in the third quarter. Daniello scored three and Pete Coleman and Stephen Keogh both added a pair of goals to lead the Syracuse offense. Syracuse backup goalie Al Cavalieri allowed six goals in his half to give the score a more balanced appearance than the game actually reflected.

Orange coach John Desko tried many different midfield and attack pairings in an attempt to find the best offensive chemistry among his talented, if young, core of players.

“We tried some combinations early. We thought one or two guys didn’t run well with a certain group, and changed that,” Desko said after the game. “We’re still learning about ourselves, but I think we’re getting there.”

Daniello acknowledged that the offense needs work on settling down earlier in the game and capitalizing on its offensive opportunities.

“Instead of rushing all the time, like we were rushing (last) Sunday, take your time. They can’t score when we have the ball,” Daniello said. “Use your spacing, move the ball around more and get comfortable.”

Despite the slow scoring in the first half, Daniello said that the six-goal second half left the team excited for next week’s regular season opener against Denver University. 


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