Men's lacrosse: Orange overcomes slow start to hammer Cornell

John Desko reaches coaching milestone after a dominant offensive performance.

After looking completely out of sorts on offense for the first 11 minutes, No. 3 Syracuse dominated the rest of the way in its blowout win at the Carrier Dome over No. 11 Cornell. 

The Orange (2-0) got the win, 14-6, over its rival in the 100th meeting between the two teams to give Syracuse head coach John Desko his 200th career win. 

Photo: Bryan Cereijo
Kevin Rice rushes the goal against Cornell Sunday afternoon.The Orange won the game 14-6, which was the 100th time the two teams have faced off.

After a sluggish start from both teams on offense, the Orange was able to adjust the way it was playing in order to explode for 14 goals, starting with 3:58 left in the first period. 

“We talked about it in the locker room before the game,” senior attack Kevin Rice said. “You don’t get an opportunity to get a top-10 win that often this early in the season, especially with the type of schedule we have with the ACC. We know we will probably take some lumps later so this is a nice one to put on the resume and take advantage of moving forward.” 

Cornell (0-1) typically runs what is called a near-man defense, where the closest defender to the ball down low slides. Rice said he found that looking at film from last year’s matchup between the two teams. 

To Rice and the team’s surprise, Cornell ran mostly a different style of defense in which the Cornell defenders locked up with the attack to force the midfielders to make plays and dodge around the defense, Rice said. 

“Our players had a good understanding of who Cornell was coming into the game,” Desko said. “They did some different things against us early in the game defensively. It took us a little while to get going and figure it out but I think the guys made some good adjustments.” 

It took almost the entirety of the first period for the Orange to adjust, but it paid off beautifully. 

With 3:58 left in the first period, midfield Tim Barber passed to midfielder Sergio Salcido, who found Randy Staats on the left side of the field close enough to the goal for him to rip it home for the score. 

The Orange would continue its offensive explosion with five goals in the second period to enter the half with a 6-1 advantage. 

“It just took us a little while to re-adjust and not really go with what we had been practicing and just go back to our basic offensive roots,” Rice said. “I thought we did that and the midfielders played really well late in the first quarter and in the second quarter, and that helped open it up for us.” 

As Rice mentioned, because the Cornell defense decided not to slide up, the midfielders were forced to make plays, and make plays they did. 

Starting midfielder Hakeem Lecky was able to tie for the team lead with three goals on the day, while his teammate and starting midfielder Nicky Galasso had the second-most points on the day with two goals and two assists. 

“They weren’t really sliding too much from down low, and our midfielders made them pay,” Rice said. “The middies did a great job taking advantage of it.” 

After the Orange (2-0) scored to start the third period, the Big Red tried to ignite a rally, as the team scored two goals 19 seconds apart to bring the game within four goals with 13:41 left in the third period. 

The Orange just needed to ease the pace and play its game on offense in order to stop the Cornell run, Galasso said. 

The team heeded Galasso’s advice, as the Orange scores five of the next six goals to take a commanding 12-4 lead it would not relinquish. 

“With our first line and our second line, everyone makes the smart play,” Galasso said. “With our attack, it’s one of the best attacks in the country. I think we have so many playmakers but when it comes to that, we just have to slow it down a little bit and just play the way we play because we have a pretty good offense.”

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