Family bonds redshirt freshman Donahue to SU

Following in the footsteps of brother, father and three uncles, redshirt freshman attackman Dylan Donahue has helped the No. 8 Orange to a 6-2 start.

Dylan Donahue doesn’t remember when he became a Syracuse lacrosse fan. All he knows is an orange shirt from his childhood.

He doesn’t remember what it read, its logo, or any designs, only that it was orange. He remembers he was “six or seven” years old, running around his parent’s house in Syracuse with it and a miniature lacrosse stick.

"To get so much time as a freshman, that’s what it speaks for. Just because someone is a good athlete or good lacrosse player doesn’t mean they can get out there right away, until they’ve learned what’s going on."
- Coach John Desko

But he does remember what the shirt means.

“I guess my whole family just bleeds orange,” Donahue said. “I knew what to expect (at Syracuse) and I guess it made me feel a little more comfortable.”

Now a redshirt freshman with the men’s lacrosse team, Donahue knows the significance of putting on a Syracuse jersey. He’s been looking forward to these days his whole life. And he’s making the most of them, even from the start.

Donahue ranks fifth on the team with 14 points (10 goals and four assists), trailing seniors JoJo Marasco and Luke Cometti, junior Derek Maltz and sophomore Kevin Rice. He scored five goals on five shots in the first three games of his career, including a hat trick in the Orange’s season-opening loss to Albany.

The 5-foot-9-inch, 172-pound attackman is the latest in a line of family members who have donned the orange jersey. His older brother, Collin, played two years for the Orange. He graduated last season when his younger brother redshirted with the team. The brothers’ father, former player Kevin, is a longtime assistant coach at Syracuse who currently works with the team’s goaltenders and helps with the offense. Uncles Tim O'Hare (1977-80), Tom (1978-81) and Pat Donahue (1984-87) played four years for the Orange.

Those family connections helped lead Dylan, a West Genesee High School alum, to three Section III titles. When he committed to SU, Syracuse coaches knew they were getting one of the more underrated prospects in the area.

“I think it speaks for his work ethic,” head coach John Desko said of Donahue. “He’s done a great job since he’s been here.”

Desko praised Donahue for his ability to juggle school and sports. Donahue is currently a sophomore in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, majoring in mechanical engineering. “Not only has he done everything we’ve asked him to do as a student-athlete, but to be getting done in the engineering school speaks to his balance and how he schedules his time.”

Donahue used part of his redshirt season to immerse himself in his school work. Without even stepping on the field, he was named to the Big East All-Academic team in 2012, and he made the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in the spring of 2012. Donahue credits his coach for helping him stay focused and constantly improving in lacrosse and in the classroom.

“He’s great,” Donahue said. “I love playing for him. I grew up my whole life around him, with my dad. It’s kind of cool (to play at SU for him).”

Donahue also admits it was “nice” being able to practice with older brother Collin during last season. Collin, who transferred to Syracuse in 2010 after compiling seven goals and four assists in two years at Rutgers, hadn’t played with his younger brother, except in the backyard. The elder Donahue, who finished with 13 goals and 14 assists in his career, helped introduce Dylan to a new family up the hill from home.

“As a staff and as a team, we create a family,” Desko said. “The experience that the other family members had here at Syracuse University, it’s been good enough and important enough for them to want to send a sibling or other family members back.” Family is important to Desko and the SU coaching staff. But such is a common theme in a lot of top-tier programs, he added.

“I think you see a lot of tradition at other places,” Desko said. “For us, the important thing is these family members are coming back to us. They decide to come here, and we keep that tradition going.”

Once he stepped on campus, Donahue felt a connection to the rest of his Syracuse lacrosse family. He’s fit in well to the system, and with the other, more experienced players around him, from Marasco in the midfield to Rice up top.

“It’s been a little uncanny how quickly he learned the system here, as far as the offenses, the rides and the man-up,” Desko said. “There’s a lot to absorb here to get on the field. But he’s been able to adjust to that pretty quickly.”

Now that he’s running around in a Syracuse lacrosse shirt, Donahue has settled into an extended family—and the Orange will ride him as far as he will take them.

“I think the chemistry’s great,” Donahue said. “We’re all from around the same area, and I think that our offense is starting to come together as a whole. I think that we like playing with each other.”  

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