Men's lacrosse: Orange blitzes Virginia early, cruises to win

With the University of Denver's loss, Syracuse takes over the No. 1 ranking this week.

In a matchup of two top-five teams, No. 2 Syracuse dominated No. 5 Virginia in the first half, building a 8-1 lead that would never be in danger. 

The Orange was able to cruise to an easy 15-9 victory at the Carrier Dome on Sunday behind attackman Kevin Rice’s seven points and hat tricks from Dylan Donahue and Nicky Galasso

Photo: Bryan Cereijo
Syracuse's Kevin Rice rushes the goal near the end of the second half. The Orange beat the Virginia Cavaliers, 15-9, Sunday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.

“I think we had a really good effort today, especially from the beginning of the game,” said Syracuse head coach John Desko. “Just a complete effort to have the score the way it was in the first half. I think any coach in the country would be happy with that effort.” 

As this was the fourth game of the year for both teams, the Orange had more film on the Cavaliers than its previous opponents, Desko said. The coaches and scout team were able to focus on what Virginia runs offensively and defensively. 

The film apparently showed that Virginia likes to switch up their defense, said Galasso, who led the team with four goals. This meant the Orange had to determine whether the defense was running man or zone before setting up the offense. 

“I think it was a team thing,” Galasso said. “We prepared everything during practice, during the week. You have to give a lot of credit to the people that don’t get the credit, and that’s the scout defense. They are busting their butts all day and all week getting us prepared for Virginia and what they do.” 

Whether the Cavaliers tried to play man or zone, they had no answer for the Syracuse offense in the early going. 

Just 44 seconds into the game, Galasso was able to run by his defender and score the team’s first goal. 

“We had to dodge hard when we came out of the box,” Galasso said. “We harp on it in the locker room. We want to get a good first possession, know what the defense is doing and see the field. I just saw the (short stick midfielder) coming out on me and I just kind of ran by him a little bit. So I took advantage of it.” 

Only 1:31 later, Galasso received a pass from Rice on the right side of the field. He threw the ball into the left side of the net to give Syracuse an early 2-0 lead. The offensive onslaught did not stop as the Orange poured in six more goals to take a decisive 8-1 lead into the half. 

The Cavaliers tried to recover in the second half, but it proved to be too little too late. They were able to score eight goals in the second half, but still had no answer for an Orange offense that scored another seven goals in the final 30 minutes. 

“Knowing the Cavaliers like we do, they weren’t going to quit,” Desko said. “They came out in the second half and put some points on the board, which we certainly expected. At halftime we just wanted to talk about keep playing hard and pretend the score is 0-0. Come out with the same effort you did in the first half.” 

The Syracuse offense is hard to defend due to the experience and versatility of its attack and midfield lines. Several of them can play both positions, as Galasso has a wealth of experience playing attack and current senior attackman Randy Staats played at midfield last year. 

“The nature of our offense is a motion offense. There are a lot of moving parts.” Rice said. “Obviously there are some guys like myself who would rather be behind than up top and vice versa, but I think we do have a lot of guys who can play different roles which helps and makes it harder to scout us.”

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