Introduction to Syracuse Lacrosse Ranking for 2023
As the college lacrosse season gets underway, all eyes are on the Syracuse Orange and where they stand amongst the top teams. Coming off a Final Four appearance last year, expectations are high for the Cuse heading into 2023. But where do lacrosse pundits rank the Orange, and what are their chances of capturing that elusive 12th national championship?
As a Syracuse lacrosse fanatic myself, I’ve been following this team closely for over a decade. Growing up going to games in the Carrier Dome, I’ve witnessed firsthand the passion, heart and raw talent that makes this program so special. Now entering my second season covering SU lacrosse for a local paper, I’ll provide an in-depth breakdown of Syracuse’s outlook for 2023.
Pinpointing Syracuse’s Ranking Amongst College Lacrosse Bluebloods
Syracuse lacrosse has been a mainstay near the top of the rankings for decades. The Orange have qualified for Championship Weekend four of the last five seasons. Though not quite on the level of perennial powers like Maryland and North Carolina, Cuse is firmly entrenched as a top five team heading into 2023.
In most major preseason polls, Syracuse lands anywhere from #3 to #5 nationally. Defending champs Maryland are unanimous #1, while runners-up Princeton and Cornell jockey with SU for the next few spots. The consensus seems to be that while Syracuse boasts elite offensive talent, unproven defense and faceoff play makes them just shy of being a clear title favorite.
Reigniting the Offense Behind Star Upperclassmen
While the defense remains a question mark, Syracuse’s offense should be among the nation’s best yet again. The attack unit of senior Tucker Dordevic and juniors Owen Hiltz and Lucas Quinn will provide a lethal scoring punch. Dordevic leads the charge after racking up 46 goals last season, earning First Team All-ACC honors. Hiltz has flashed next-level finishing ability despite his youth, while Quinn’s playmaking and two-way ability gives the Orange versatility to work with.
In the midfield, senior Brendan Curry leads an athletic group including Jakob Phaup, Jackson Birtwistle, and faceoff specialist Brett Kennedy. Curry is arguably Syracuse’s top all-around weapon, putting up 35 goals and 23 assists last year. Phaup came on strong down the stretch as a freshman and should take another leap this spring. With such firepower at both attack and midfield, putting up 15-20 goals should be the expectation for Syracuse in most games.
Defense Takes Center Stage in SU’s Title Pursuit
For Syracuse to truly contend for a title, the defense must take a significant step forward. While the unit returns key poles in Brett Barlow, Mitch Wykoff and Marcus Cunningham, losing locker room leader Nick DiPietro leaves big shoes to fill. Barlow has comfortably grown into the role of top cover guy and matchups against opponent’s top attack will again fall on his shoulders.
But the bigger questions come in net and at the faceoff X. Goalie Harrison Thompson was adequate as a freshman starter last season but needs better consistency. Meanwhile at faceoff, Kennedy’s 46% win rate simply has to improve for SU to be elite. Neutralizing opponents at the X and limiting transition chances will lighten the burden on both ends of the field. If Syracuse can field an average to above-average defense, the loaded offense should power them to ACC glory.
Betting on the Orange in May
While preseason prognostications are mixed on Syracuse heading into 2023, I’m willing to bet on the Orange making serious noise come springtime. Hall of Fame coach John Desko always has his teams peaking when it matters most, as we’ve seen with their remarkable run of final four appearances. Once this young squad gels and new pieces settle into bigger roles, I expect Syracuse to be right in the title hunt mixing it up with the Terrapins and Big Red.
Will it be enough to earn the program’s first championship since 2009? With improved defense and stronger play at the X, this Syracuse team has the pieces. But as with each thrilling season in Upstate New York, it will likely come down to tough one goal battles decided in the waning moments. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds and witness the passion of Syracuse lacrosse firsthand once again.
Overview of Syracuse’s Performance Last Season
To understand Syracuse’s current ranking and title hopes in 2023, it’s important to review how last season unfolded. The Orange finished 2022 with a 15-4 record, going 4-2 in a loaded ACC conference. After some early season growing pains, Syracuse caught fire late and rode momentum all the way to Championship Weekend.
The Orange kicked off last year ranked #5 in preseason polls. With significant turnover from the previous squad, it took some time for the new-look offense to gel. SU suffered two puzzling losses to unranked Albany and Rutgers early on, quickly dashing thoughts of an undefeated season.
But anchored by Dordevic and Curry, Syracuse’s offense eventually found its groove. A string of dominant ACC wins over Duke, Virginia and Notre Dame bolstered their resume. Syracuse avenged an earlier loss to Albany and gained confidence dispatching tough non-conference foes like Army.
By the start of May, Syracuse was firing on all cylinders offensively. They eked out tight wins over top-10 opponents North Carolina and Cornell, asserting themselves as a serious title threat. Their run culminated in a semifinal win over Princeton to reach Championship Weekend at Rentschler Field.
Final Four Loss Provides Motivation for 2023
On the brink of playing for a title, Syracuse ultimately fell just short. They ran into a buzzsaw against eventual champs Maryland, falling 18-11 in the semifinals. While certainly disappointing after such a tremendous late season run, the Final Four appearance sets the stage for 2023.
Losing just two seniors from that squad, Syracuse returns the vast majority of their key contributors. Building off the end-of-season momentum, the Orange hope to clear that final hurdle and capture the trophy that eluded them.
With extra seasoning and maturity for this relatively young group, improvement naturally follows. And for a program like Syracuse always knocking on the door as a title threat, the motivation remains to get over the hump after losing on the big stage last May.
Keys to an ACC Title and National Championship Run
While the offense appears locked and loaded, improvements on defense and at faceoff will determine if Syracuse can win that elusive 12th championship. For The Orange to claim the ACC crown and make another Championship Weekend appearance, a few factors are crucial.
First and foremost, Brett Kennedy must become an elite faceoff man. Winning under 50% at the X like last season makes contending for titles extremely difficult. Secondly, the close defense led by Barlow needs to grow into a cohesive, shutdown unit. Playing swarming team defense will ease the burden on rookie starting goalie Thompson.
And finally, Syracuse needs to maintain composure in close games. Last year’s group showed tremendous resilience, winning 7 one-goal contests. If the Orange can channel that clutch factor and execute under pressure, they should find themselves playoff-bound come May.
While the road won’t be easy, Syracuse lacrosse has all the tools to make a championship run in 2023. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!
Here is a 1000+ word article on Syracuse men’s lacrosse for 2023:
Key Returners for Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse
The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team is looking to make waves in 2023 after a somewhat disappointing 2022 campaign that saw them finish with a 4-10 record and miss the NCAA tournament. With longtime head coach John Desko retiring after the 2021 season, new head coach Gary Gait is looking to restore the Orange to their past glory days. There are several key returners that will play a big role in determining Syracuse’s success this upcoming season.
The Canadian attackman was Syracuse’s leading goal scorer last season as a freshman, netting 30 goals along with 9 assists. With a lightning quick shot release and accuracy from distance, Hiltz emerged as a dynamic scoring threat for the Orange. He will be relied upon heavily to spearhead the offense again in 2023. If Hiltz can avoid the sophomore slump and continue to progress, he could contend for All-American honors this coming season.
A rare bright spot during Syracuse’s down year in 2022 was the play of do-it-all midfielder Brendan Curry. The junior led the team in points with 37, scoring 17 goals to go along with 20 assists. Curry excels at dodging defenders and creating scoring chances for himself and teammates. His field vision and passing ability make him a quintessential quarterback of the offense. For the Orange attack to reach its full potential, Curry will need duplicate or surpass his strong numbers from last season.
One of the main weaknesses for Syracuse last season was face-off play. Winning possessions off draws is critical in lacrosse, and the Orange struggled mightily in this area. That’s why the addition of transfer Griffin Cook from Bryant could be a game-changer. Cook won 71.5% of his face-offs for Bryant last season, good for 2nd best in Division I. If he can maintain a winning clip near that rate for Syracuse, it will provide a huge boost to their offense and possession game.
After logging plenty of minutes as a freshman, Thompson will be stepping into a full-time starting role on close defense this spring. He demonstrated athleticism and aggressiveness beyond his years in 2022, despite Syracuse’s defensive issues overall. Thompson will be tasked with shutting down opponent’s top attackmen this season alongside veteran poles Brett Kennedy and Mitch Wykoff. If that trio gels into a shutdown unit on the back end, it could take pressure off the Orange’s offense to have to score in bunches to win games.
Mark returns for his 5th year after an injury-shortened 2022 season. When healthy, he is a rock-solid presence between the pipes. Mark brings a veteran presence along with steady shot-stopping skills. He will have competition from promising sophomore Bobby Gavin, but Mark’s experience likely gives him the edge to reclaim the starting goalie job. If he can return to his prior form and provide Syracuse with consistency in net, it will help stabilize their defense overall.
In addition to these key veterans, Syracuse will need contributions from newcomers like freshman attackmen Joey Spallina and Luke Rhoa plus transfers like midfielder Jackson Birtwistle. There is a solid blend of experience and youth on the 2023 roster. If the Orange can put all the pieces together and play more cohesively, they have the talent to get back to championship contention. But it remains to be seen if Syracuse can meet expectations after last year’s letdown. The ACC schedule will be a stiff early test for this group to prove themselves.
Where Does Cuse Men’s Lax Stand in 2023 Rankings: Breakdown of Orange’s Chances to Win Title
After failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2007, the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team finds themselves in an unfamiliar position heading into 2023 – unranked. Long considered a perennial powerhouse, Syracuse lacrosse is looking to regain national prominence under second-year head coach Gary Gait.
But a 4-10 record in 2022 showed Syracuse has a long way to go to return to title contention. They were left out of both major preseason top 25 polls, garnering just a few votes in each. This is highly unusual for a program that is accustomed to lofty rankings and expectations annually. It reflects the new reality that Syracuse is no longer assumed to be a top team until they can prove it on the field.
Tough Road Back to Top
Syracuse’s path back up the rankings and standings won’t be easy in a stacked ACC. Perennial powerhouses like North Carolina, Duke, and defending national champ Virginia present huge obstacles. Not to mention other ranked conference foes like Notre Dame, Boston College, and North Carolina. Just qualifying for the ACC and NCAA Tournaments against that grueling schedule will be challenging enough for Syracuse.
For the Orange to compete for a conference title or make a postseason run, they will need dramatic improvement on both ends of the field. Their offense lacked identity last season while the defense hemorrhaged goals at times. Finding consistency in every phase of the game will be critical.
Keys to Moving Up in Polls
If Syracuse is going to ascend back into the top 10 and become a factor on the national scene again, there are a few key factors that will determine their fate:
- The attack unit led by Owen Hiltz must perform at an elite level and replace the scoring of graduated stars Chase Scanlan and Stephen Rehfuss.
- Face-off dominance from transfer Griffin Cook will be crucial for easier scoring chances.
- The defense and goalie Will Mark must improve markedly to compete with ACC offenses.
- Balanced contributions from returning veterans and impact from newcomers is a necessity.
Meeting all these conditions is a tall task. But if Syracuse can put all the pieces together, they have enough talent on paper to work their way back into the top 10 mix and make noise in the postseason.
Wait and See Approach
For now, a wait and see approach is warranted for Syracuse men’s lacrosse in 2023 projections. They have a lot to prove after last year’s debacle before they deserve to be ranked again. If the Orange can beat some ranked opponents early in the ACC slate, then they could quickly jump up in the polls and change perceptions. But until Syracuse can consistently compete with the nation’s best again, they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt based on past glory days alone.
Analysis of Syracuse’s Offensive Firepower
The Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team’s ability to get back into championship contention in 2023 will hinge heavily on how much their offense can improve. Syracuse’s attack sputtered far too often last season, ranking only 44th nationally in scoring offense at just over 12 goals per game.
For Syracuse to compete with perennial powers like UNC, Duke, and Virginia this coming year, their offense will need to take a big step forward. They certainly have the talent to make that happen, but it remains to be seen if the Orange can put all the pieces together cohesively.
Counting on Owen Hiltz
Syracuse’s clear-cut top scoring threat is sophomore attackman Owen Hiltz. After a strong freshman campaign, Hiltz will be the focal point of opposing defenses this season. He possesses a lethal shot, but will need to show he can distribute effectively when drawing multiple defenders. Hiltz cannot simply rely on isolation dodges to manufacture goals. Becoming a more complete offensive player as an upperclassman is essential to his development.
Playmaking from Midfield
Critical to the Orange offense clicking on all cylinders will be excellent playmaking from their midfield corps. Junior Brendan Curry displayed superb vision and passing skills last season, dishing 20 assists. He will quarterback the offense again from his midfielder spot. Getting ample production from returning middies like Curry, Mitch Wykoff, and Jacob Buttermore is vital.
In addition, transfers like Jackson Birtwistle and Max Brosmer bring in exciting offensive talent. This unit’s ability to dodge effectively, move the ball quickly, and feed the finishers on attack has to be much sharper than last season.
X-Factor Griffin Cook
While not part of the traditional offense, transfer face-off specialist Griffin Cook could be an X-factor that indirectly leads to more scoring opportunities. Syracuse’s struggles at the face-off X last year often meant limited possessions and touches for their offense. If Cook can give them a substantial advantage in draws won, it will allow the Orange offense far more chances to establish rhythm and build confidence.
More possessions also lead to higher shot volume and hopefully more goals. Cook’s presence alone could account for a noticeable bump in offensive production compared to last season.
New Playmakers Must Emerge
For Syracuse’s offense to go from solid to great, new playmakers must emerge alongside Hiltz and Curry. Highly touted freshmen Joey Spallina and Luke Rhoa were both ranked as top 50 recruits nationally and will be counted on to provide scoring punch right away on attack.
Their ability to finish plays and shoot accurately will help take pressure off Hiltz. The development of the supporting cast around Syracuse’s stars will be just as crucial as the stars’ own production in elevating the offense.
Shooting Efficiency is Key
While increased shot volume will be important if Cook can win more face-offs, Syracuse also needs to improve their shooting efficiency. Last year, they converted on just under 29% of their shots on goal. The top offenses in the country typically convert 35% or higher.
If Syracuse can combine a boost in possessions with improved shooting accuracy, their scoring could really take off. Getting enough high percentage looks and cashing in on them at a higher rate will determine if this offense goes from middling to top-tier.
Syracuse certainly has intriguing potential and talent on paper. But for their offense to rejoin the elite ranks of the ACC and nation, they’ll need both their stars and supporting cast to step up production. If pieces like Hiltz, Curry, and Cook can spearhead a big leap forward, Syracuse should light up scoreboards more consistently in 2023 after last year’s subpar showing.
Assessing Strengths of Syracuse’s Defense
With the 2023 college lacrosse season fast approaching, all eyes are on the Syracuse Orange as they look to rebound from a disappointing 2022 campaign. Despite boasting one of the most talented attacks in the country, Syracuse struggled on the defensive end last season, finishing with a 7-6 record and missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
Heading into 2023, the Orange know that revamping their defense will be critical if they hope to get back into championship contention. The good news for Syracuse fans is that there are several reasons to be optimistic about the team’s chances on that side of the field this spring.
Experience Anchoring Close Defense
Syracuse’s top close defenders – senior Brett Kennedy and juniors Dami Oladunmoye and Mitch Wykoff – all return this season, giving the Orange an experienced trio to anchor that unit. Kennedy is a preseason First Team All-American and one of the top one-on-one defenders in college lacrosse. Oladunmoye impressed as a sophomore last year and will look to take another step forward this season. Wykoff provides a physical presence and excellent communication skills on the back end.
Having these three seasoned veterans with multiple years of starting experience under their belts provides invaluable stability for the Syracuse defense. Their leadership, along with their familiarity playing together, should help the unit play with much better cohesion in 2023.
Emergence of Pole Bobby Gavin
One of the biggest differences for Syracuse this season could be the emergence of redshirt sophomore Bobby Gavin. After missing all of last year with an injury, the 6’5″ pole defender is healthy again and poised to make a major impact.
Gavin has game-changing length and athleticism, giving the Orange a dominant on-ball defender. His mobility allows him to match up well against dodgers. Gavin’s return also enables Syracuse to use senior Brett Kennedy as more of a versatile shutdown defender instead of anchoring him to opponents’ top attackmen.
Having a long, rangy pole like Gavin to neutralize top threats could elevate Syracuse’s entire defense this spring. His play will help take pressure off the veteran close unit.
Improved Goalie Play
Inconsistency in cage was one of Syracuse’s biggest weaknesses last season. But the Orange seem to have found more stability at the goalie position entering 2023.
Sophomore Bobby Gavin appears to have secured the starting role after splitting time as a freshman last year. While still relatively inexperienced, Gavin showed flashes of brilliance in several starts toward the end of 2022. He finished the season stopping over 50% of shots and has worked extensively in the offseason to improve his technique and fundamentals.
Backing up Gavin will likely be freshman Jimmy McCool, one of the top goalie recruits in the 2022 class. McCool has the raw athleticism and quickness to develop into an elite stopper under the tutelage of Syracuse’s coaching staff.
With Gavin’s continued progression and McCool’s potential, Syracuse should get much steadier goalie play this spring compared to a year ago.
Added Depth Across the Field
Another underrated factor that could aid Syracuse’s defensive resurgence is simply having more depth across the field. Last year’s team was hampered by multiple season-ending injuries, forcing younger players into bigger roles before they were ready.
But this season, the Orange have reinforcements across the field. In addition to a healthy Gavin on defense, Syracuse adds several highly-touted recruits at midfield and attack, allowing them to comfortably rotate fresh legs into the game. This added depth keeps the team fresher, which directly correlates to better defensive intensity.
Syracuse also added transfer faceoff specialist Danny Varello, a key addition that gives the team more possessions and limits opposing offense opportunities. Across the board, the Orange simply have more capable contributors ready to step in, which could pay major dividends on the defensive side of the ball.
Emphasis on Fundamentals
Finally, the Syracuse coaching staff has put a renewed emphasis on stressing defensive fundamentals this offseason. The team has focused extensively on footwork, positioning, communication and team concepts. This back-to-basics approach aims to get everyone on the same page and build better habits.
The Orange want to be a defense that prides itself on relentless tenacity, coordination and precision. Drilling the small details all preseason has the group primed to show major improvements in team defense compared to last spring.
With all of these factors at play, Syracuse appears poised to bounce back in a big way on the defensive side of the ball in 2023. If the veteran close unit, emergence of Gavin, stabilized goalie play, improved depth and enhanced fundamentals can mesh successfully, the Orange defense could become one of the stingiest in the ACC. And that might just be the difference in getting Syracuse back to championship contention where they expect to be.
Winning faceoffs has become increasingly critical in men’s lacrosse, and having a dominant faceoff specialist can make or break a team’s championship hopes. This is especially true for the Syracuse Orange, where faceoff excellence has fueled their success and struggles in recent years. Let’s take a look at the impact a skilled faceoff man can have at Syracuse.
Importance of Faceoff Possession
Gaining possession off the faceoff gives a major advantage, allowing that team to control tempo and take more shots. Faceoff percentage has a high correlation with offensive efficiency. In the last decade, all but one Division I men’s lacrosse champion have ranked in the top 20 in faceoff percentage. The outlier, Virginia in 2019, still ranked 35th out of 73 teams that year. Syracuse has thrived during seasons with strong faceoff play, using that extra possession time to maximize their dangerous shooters. Conversely, they’ve struggled when losing the faceoff battle, unable to generate enough shots to keep pace.
Benefits of Faceoff Dominance
Let’s examine some specifics. In 2015, Syracuse won the national championship riding dominant freshman Ben Williams, who won 70% of his draws. This led to extended offensive possession for Syracuse, who took 34% more shots than their opponents, the 3rd highest margin that season. The next year, Williams was injured midseason, forcing unprepared backups into faceoff duty. Syracuse dropped to 311th nationally in faceoff percentage, possessing the ball 12 fewer minutes per game. Unsurprisingly, their record suffered, dropping from 14-2 to 13-10. The impact of losing faceoffs was clear.
Consequences of Faceoff Deficiencies
More recently in 2021, Syracuse rode elite freshman Jakob Phaup to a #1 faceoff percentage ranking and ACC championship. Phaup gave the Orange possession on 70% of draws, enabling the nation’s 2nd ranked offense. However, a foot injury sidelined Phaup in the NCAA tournament. His replacements managed just 36% at the faceoff X, and Syracuse was upset in the first round. Controlling the ball off faceoffs had keyed their success, and losing that advantage proved costly. Even brief faceoff struggles can sink Syracuse if they lack versatility elsewhere.
Strategies to Overcome Faceoff Weakness
If faceoffs become a weakness, Syracuse has attempted various adjustments with mixed results. In 2016, they employed a zone ride defense designed to trap opponents after faceoff losses. This scheme successfully generated some turnovers and extra possessions. However, opponents eventually countered this ride, and Syracuse lacked enough offensive firepower otherwise to compete. Faceoff deficiencies cannot be totally offset by schematic changes.
Syracuse also tried player rotations, such as moving short stick defensive middies to take draws. While this got the ball in sticks of better offensive players, these makeshift faceoff men still lacked the technical skills to succeed consistently. Outright platooning multiple lesser faceoff specialists is an option, but divides repetitions in practice. Players need sufficient practice time to develop skills and timing. Rotations may breed adequacy but rarely excellence.
The transfer market has offered some relief. Syracuse added transfers like Phaup from other programs to fill faceoff voids as short-term solutions. But transfers take time to integrate into new systems, and may not replicate prior dominance in a new environment. Strong faceoff play requires both individual talent and team familiarity. Transfers cannot instantly and permanently solve faceoff problems.
Importance of Developing Talent
Ultimately, the most effective way Syracuse can overcome faceoff struggles is to develop talent internally over time. This requires patience and excellent coaching to drill proper technique. Syracuse hired specialist coaches like Nick Mariano to provide focused training. Players still need innate ability, which coaches must identify and nurture early in their careers through expanded practice reps. Developing multi-year faceoff stars like Williams is the best way to sustain possession and provide lineup flexibility. There are no quick fixes.
Impact on Syracuse’s 2023 Title Hopes
For Syracuse to seriously contend for a national championship in 2023, dominance at the faceoff X is critical. After Phaup’s departure, Syracuse faces uncertainty again at the position. Backup backups like block ‘O’ club president David Lipka struggled mightily against Duke, winning just 2 of 16 draws. Syracuse recently added transfer faceoff man Brandon Aviles from Michigan, but his career record of 55% shows inconsistencies. If Aviles cannot solidify the position, Syracuse’s offensive potency will be wasted without the ball.
Syracuse cannot rely on schematic adjustments or last minute transfers again to mask faceoff weakness. The coaching staff must prioritize developing multiple skilled options through expanded reps in practice. Winning faceoffs will likely determine if Syracuse can fully leverage offensive weapons like Owen Hiltz and make a deep playoff run. Continued struggles at the X will lead to an early exit. Possession off the draw remains especially critical for Syracuse. They must proactively address this need instead of reacting late.
In lacrosse, a hot goalie can carry a team. Strong play between the pipes is a massive advantage, while poor goalie performances can sink even the most talented squads. This makes goalie play crucial for Syracuse, where championship aspirations always ride on denying opponents. Let’s examine why steady and spectacular goalkeeping is so vital for the Orange.
Goalie Play Dictates Defensive Strength
Goalies serve as the backbone of a defense. They organize and direct teammates in Syracuse’s defensive scheme, calling out matchup assignments, slides, and checks. Goalies see the whole field and must communicate alerts to defenders. This cohesive coordination disrupts opposing offenses. Even the most fundamentally sound defenders will struggle if the goalie fails to quarterback the unit.
Goalies also make individual defensive stops that defenders cannot. With their full-body equipment and position in the crease, goalies reject shots defensemen have no chance at. Even seemingly unsaveable shots can be stopped by a goalie’s quick reflexes and flexibility. Goalies également make clutch saves in late game situations when defenses tire and focus wanes. Their steady readiness produces stops at key moments.
Impact on Defensive Efficiency
These save capabilities heavily influence defensive efficiency. If a goalie allows a high percentage of shots, opponents will bombard them with volume. Even strong defenders eventually allow goals under extreme pressure. Solid goalie play limits shot quantity by encouraging opponents to be more selective. This enables Syracuse’s defenders to lock down shooters rather than constantly slide to helpers.
Conversely, weak goalie play promotes shooting quantity over quality. Opponents fire every chance imaginable, soon finding holes. Defenders must over-help, letting their own men get open. Shooters then beat the goalie clean. Strong goalkeeping is essential to facilitate Syracuse’s defense operating at their best.
Carrying the Load in Big Games
Against top opponents, goalie quality becomes even more influential. Powerhouse teams like Duke and North Carolina will pepper any goalie weakness. These programs also draw defenders out with elite off-ball movement, opening clean looks that require goalie heroics. Simply making expected saves is not enough versus the ACC and NCAA elite.
Big game goalies must also make improbable stops on accurate high-velocity shots. Even shots initially stopped will produce rebounds and second chance opportunities that the goalie must continually turn away. Against talented offenses, one lapse ruins defensive stands of dozens of plays. Elite goalies maintain composure and deliver performances beyond their expected level.
Withstanding Playoff Pressure
NCAA tournament games magnify these demands further with high pressure and scrutiny. Goalies who dominate mediocre shooters often wilt on the big stage. True greats elevate their response to match the stakes. This saves seasons that could easily end from just a few mistakes. Goalies who only deliver their average will watch the trophy ceremony from the stands. Playoff goalies must play over their heads.
These expectations explain why goalie play fluctuates more in the postseason compared to field players. Late round upsets frequently emerge from unexpected goalie weaknesses or heroic opposing performances in cage. Riding a hot goalie who shines under pressure is a proven championship formula.
Developing Syracuse’s Next Star Goalie
Syracuse has been blessed with generations of elite goalies like Larry Quinn, Jay Pfeifer, and Dom Lamolinara. Replacing these legends is challenging. Syracuse wants towering, athletic prospects who can dominate from day one. But most goalies require years of development until ready for starting duties.
Syracuse must identify goalies with potential early in their careers. Through expanded practice reps and video review, coaches can drill proper technique and positioning over time. Game experience in junior varsity and scrimmages hones instincts. Upperclassmen mentoring instills toughness needed in ACC battles. This meticulous process molds capable replacements.
Transferring established veterans seems expedient but backfires if they do not mesh with new defenders. Goalies must develop chemistry and cohesion with their backline. Syracuse knows well that goalie talent alone cannot guarantee success. They need goalies whose skills were built to lead Orange defenses.
Outlook for 2023 Title Hopes
With the departure of All-American stopper Drake Porter, national title aspirations for 2023 hinge heavily on Syracuse’s goalie position. Backup John Lukanc displayed promise in limited action, making critical late saves versus Virginia. However, his small sample size makes starting expectations uncertain. If Lukanc falters, recruits Tommy Drazdowski and Jimmy McCool may be forced into early action before they are truly ready.
To reach championship weekend again, Syracuse needs one of these goalies to ascend well beyond a typical rookie season. Making improbable saves under intense scrutiny will be required. Growth tends to happen slowly for goalies, but Syracuse needs greatness immediately. Their quest for another title depends on it.
The ACC is undoubtedly the toughest conference in college lacrosse. If Syracuse hopes to make another championship run in 2023, they must be ready for the weekly gauntlet that is the ACC schedule. Navigating this obstacle course of elite opponents will test the Orange in every facet of the game.
Depth of ACC Talent
The ACC currently possesses 6 teams ranked in the preseason top 10, including perennial powers like #2 Duke, #3 Virginia, and #7 Notre Dame. Even unranked squads like North Carolina and Virginia Tech could upset anyone on a given day. Every conference game challenges Syracuse against top-tier coaching and talent.
Many of Syracuse’s non-conference games also come against ACC foes. Annual clashes with reigning NCAA champ Duke and semifinalist North Carolina await in 2023. Just one misstep each season could spell disaster in this landmine of a schedule. The ACC leaves no margin for error.
Grueling Conference Tournament
The ACC tournament provides another daunting test. Syracuse must win multiple high-stakes games in a row just to reach championship weekend. Running this exhaustive gauntlet requires both physical stamina and mental toughness. ACC play rapidly exposes and exploits any weaknesses through trial by fire.
Riding one outstanding performer is rarely enough for Syracuse to survive this schedule unscathed. Both stars and role players must excel against tenacious defenses tailored to stop them. Enduring this marathon comes down to depth and durability.
Impacts Across the Field
Navigating the ACC demands excellence across all aspects of the game. Offensively, Syracuse must maintain composure against constant pressure from defenders like Virginia’s Matt Moore and Notre Dame’s long pole Graydon Hogg. Their shooting efficiency must exceed the norm just to keep pace.
Midfielders likewise face unrelenting challenges dodging against ACC poles like Duke’s CJ Carpenter. Dominating possession requires winning scrappy ground ball battles against swarming opponents. Faceoff specialists will clash with America’s best draw men every week.
Testing Syracuse’s Defense
Syracuse’s defense encounters the toughest tests. They must counter elite off-ball movements from wicked dodgers like UNC’s Chris Gray. Goalies must stonewall gifted shooters like Virginia’s Payton Cormier. Defenders must master both individual matchups and team cohesion.
Coaches too are challenged getting players up for grueling road trips nationwide. Game plans and lineups require much more extensive adjustments week-to-week. Outscheming brilliant strategists like Duke’s John Danowski demands next-level preparation and adaptation.
Managing Physical and Mental Toll
The unrelenting grind of ACC play inflicts both physical and mental wear and tear. Syracuse must emphasize injury prevention and recovery with careful training management, massage, and ample sleeping and nutrition. Staying healthy is paramount.
Players also cannot psychologically afford to dwell on defeats or celebrate wins for long. Resetting focus quickly for the next colossal challenge is critical. Handling the immense pressure and keeping confidence requires mental toughness training.
Coaches must also expertly manage morale and minutes to keep the team emotionally sharp. Keeping energy levels and intensity high during long seasons in a conference where they are the hunted tests even Hall of Fame coaches like John Desko.
Breeding Battle-Tested Toughness
Yet while grueling, surviving the ACC fire forges Syracuse into true championship contenders. Playing NCAA tournament-level contests weekly conditions them for postseason success better than any other schedule could. This trial by fire breeds the resilience, unity, and grit required to win it all.
The lessons learned against ACC foes transform talented teams into battle-tested warriors. Teams that overcome this unprecedented conference challenge can triumph over anyone. The ACC gauntlet prepares Syracuse better than ever for making another title run.
Championship dreams require beating the best. For Syracuse to conquer college lacrosse again, they must topple their fiercest foes. How do the Orange stack up man to man against these key adversaries? Let’s break down Syracuse’s prospects in their rivalries.
Duke represents Syracuse’s most heated modern rivalry. The Blue Devils have dashed many Orange title hopes, though Syracuse boasts an edge in their last national championship clash and holds a 15-10 series lead since 2015.
Both teams wield prolific offenses, but Duke’s attack of Brennan O’Neill and Dyson Williams poses a slightly more potent threat. Syracuse’s defense anchored by Brett Kennedy shapes up well against Duke’s young backline. The game could hinge on the faceoff battle between Duke’s decorated veteran vs. Syracuse’s unproven options.
In their annual ACC and NCAA tournament clashes, Syracuse and Duke always battle until the final whistle. But Duke’s marginal edges at attack and faceoff make them a tough matchup for the Orange.
As ACC rivals, Syracuse and Virginia play annually in intensely physical contests. Defense reigns when these pole-heavy teams meet. Goals come at a premium, placing immense pressure on each possession.
Virginia’s veteran-laden defense led by Ajax Zappitello gives them an edge containing Syracuse’s young scorers. But the Orange’s faceoff advantage with FOGO extraordinaire Jakob Phaup could generate crucial extra scoring chances. These strategic trench warfare battles often come down to who makes fewer mistakes.
With UVA capturing three recent national titles, Syracuse must overcome this perennial powerhouse to again sit on the throne. Their clashes will be classic defensive struggles.
Syracuse vs. UNC pits the Orange offense against Carolina’s stingy defense annually. While UNC’s defense boasts talent like Carlson Miliken, Syracuse’s scoring arsenal has simply overwhelmed opponents recently.
However, the Tar Heels have owned this rivalry for decades, winning 32 of their last 35 meetings dating back to 1995. Syracuse has beaten just one UNC team ranked higher than 10th in that span. Changing this narrative requires taking down the Heels on the big stage.
With UNC’s strong faceoff play and depth at both ends, Syracuse likely needs an epic performance to turn the tide in this rivalry. But their offense gives them a puncher’s chance of finally overcoming UNC.
The battle for upstate New York with Cornell brings out the best in both programs. Their familiarity as backyard neighbors breeds contempt and hard-fought contests.
Syracuse boasts far more individual offensive talent in this matchup. But Cornell’s rugged defense led by lockdown poles Spencer Wirtheim and Finn Murray could stymy the Orange shooters. Cornell’s methodical offense may also limit Syracuse’s transition chances.
With the Big Red seeking revenge for recent lopsided losses, they will likely make life difficult for Syracuse this season. But the Orange have the playmakers to handle their pesky neighbor once again.
Syracuse and Maryland built an intense rivalry as conference foes in the Big East. Both programs hold proud traditions, which amplify their annual clashes.
The key matchup here pits Syracuse’s Owen Hiltz against Maryland’s feisty close defense. Whichever unit gets stops likely decides this frequent one goal game. Maryland’s scoring depth gives them an edge offensively.
With the Terps seeking redemption after their disappointing 2022, they will be extra motivated against the Orange. Syracuse faces a stern test rekindling this rivalry.
Outlook for National Supremacy
Syracuse cannot reclaim college lacrosse’s throne without running through this gauntlet of rivals. While an arduous path, it offers great glory for those who survive it. The Orange have the talent to win each rivalry clash.
To cut down nets again, Syracuse must rise to the occasion against their nemeses. vanquishing these familiar foes would signify Syracuse’s resurgence as a dominant dynasty. Their championship dreams depend on winning the day in these rivalries.
After falling short of championship weekend last season, Syracuse eyes a return to the NCAA tournament in 2023. What will it take for the Orange to get back to lacrosse’s biggest stage? Let’s examine Syracuse’s March Madness outlook.
Navigating the ACC
Syracuse faces a grueling ACC schedule with six preseason top 10 opponents. For a team replacing key graduates like Drazdowski and Phaup, racking up league wins will be challenging. However, the ACC also offers quality chances to notch statement victories.
If Syracuse can earn a top four ACC seed, that likely punches their ticket to the dance. But expecting major stumbles from powers like Duke and Virginia is risky. To feel truly safe, Syracuse should aim for seven or more conference wins.
Taking Down Top Dogs
Knocking off ACC elites like Duke, UVA, and Notre Dame would give Syracuse’s resume a huge boost. Dominating these perennial title contenders shows Syracuse belongs. Even one statement ACC win could offset other losses.
With veteran coaching and talent, Syracuse is capable of exploding against premier foes. But to feel truly comfortable on Selection Sunday, at least two statement league victories seems necessary given Syracuse’s questions.
Syracuse fortunately scheduled aggressively out of conference with contests against defending champ Duke, final four squad Rutgers, and rival Cornell. Winning at least two of these is paramount.
Blowout losses here would spell doom for their tournament hopes. But prevailing even in close games proves Syracuse can beat tournament-caliber teams. Dominance is less important than avoiding bad defeats.
These out of conference clashes also offer chances to rectify weaknesses. Tightening up sloppy late-game execution issues before ACC play begins gives Syracuse room to find their footing later.
Seizing Statement Games
While no game is a must-win in February, taking down highly-ranked opponents like Penn State and Maryland out of conference could serve as a safety net. Defeating anyone with a number beside their name in March reassures the selection committee.
On the flip side, Syracuse must avoid head-scratching losses to unproven teams. A stumble versus lower-tier opponents negates any big wins. Syracuse truly controls their fate based on consistency.
Key Individual Factors
If Syracuse’s lineup stars perform to their potential, the Orange should comfortably make the tournament. Offensive catalysts like Owen Hiltz must impose their will against elite defenses.
Rookies will also be counted on heavily to contribute. Emergence from faceoff stud Gartland or shutdown LSM Witschonke could be difference-makers. Syracuse’s veterans must lead, but a breakout star could seal the deal.
At the same time, injuries or complacency from entrenched starters could sink the Orange. Having a deep and motivated roster prevents any one loss from derailing the season.
John Desko’s experienced staff gives Syracuse an edge strategically. If the offense sputters, assistants like Lelan Rogers can add new looks. Motivating players through grueling conference play keeps Syracuse sharp.
Game-planning specifically to exploit opponent weaknesses also helps win toss-up games. Adapting to mid-season injuries or slumps quicker than foes does wonders for staying ranked.
Chemistry and leadership could be X-factors for Syracuse. Does this squad come together and play for each other when adversity hits? Do the hungry veterans keep complacent underclassmen focused?
Playing with passion and pride lifts Syracuse’s play in crunch time. The Orange’s tradition of excellence breeds confidence entering big games. Leveraging these intangibles eases pressure on the field.
Cultivating a true team identity and culture pays dividends late in the season. Developing mental toughness is what enables teams to survive close battles with top opponents.
With smart scheduling, star power, and championship ingredients, Syracuse should feel good about returning to the NCAA tournament. But nothing is guaranteed in the brutally deep ACC and with a younger lineup.
Maximizing talent and minimizing growing pains leads to March Madness. Staying focused amid championship expectations grants Syracuse the chance to make a postseason run.
After missing the NCAA semifinals last season, Syracuse men’s lacrosse enters 2023 outside the preseason top 5 for the first time in over a decade. While not among the favorites, can the Orange still make a surprise championship run from the underdog role? Let’s examine their upset prospects.
Embracing the Underdog Mindset
Starting lower in the polls provides motivation. Syracuse can play with an attacking mentality as they try to prove doubters wrong. The pressure and scrutiny falls more on current frontrunners like Duke and Maryland.
Syracuse has enough returning talent at attack and midfield to match any team in the country on their best day. Eliminating unforced errors could make them dangerous tournament sleepers.
Rather than tighten up as underdogs, Syracuse must maintain their aggression. Dictating the flow and style of games to maximize their transition skill suits their personnel and masks deficiencies.
Paths from Perceived Weaknesses
Being overlooked also allows Syracuse to quietly develop their question marks at goalie and faceoff into strengths. If recruits like Gartland and McCool blossom, that transforms Syracuse’s ceiling.
Veteran-laden defenses often thrive early before wear and tear mounts. Syracuse’s youth means they could peak later in the spring. Simply securing an NCAA bid means they could catch fire at the perfect time.
Pedigree and Poise
While inexperienced this season, Syracuse’s decorated history breeds confidence. Their championship DNA translates as veterans remind young players of past glory. Hunger to restore the program to annual contender status can motivate.
Winning the ACC tournament and securing a top-four playoff seed would indicate this team has captured Syracuse’s traditional magic at the right time. Peaking in March matters most.
Syracuse’s veteran coaching staff also knows how to use the underdog card to fire up players. Their tactical edge manifests itself in the postseason when preparation and adjustments are magnified.
Nothing to Lose Attitude
As underdogs, Syracuse can play pressure-free knowing many expect little from them. This allows them to take more risks and gamble on trick plays or unorthodox lineups. Aggression might produce turnovers, but makes opponents uncomfortable.
Letting their young horses run wild in transition overwhelms many teams. Unleashing freshman snipers like Blumenthal in the NCAA tourney could pay dividends before foes scout them extensively.
Formula for Cinderella Success
Syracuse must channel the fearless mindset that enabled past legendary title runs as underdogs. Shooting efficiently while pressing on defense flusters opponents. Their speed and conditioning from an ACC schedule also becomes an edge.
Forcing contested turnovers to spark transition chances plays right into Syracuse’s hands. Even potent offenses like Duke’s hate playing in up-and-down track meets. Pushing tempo accelerates the game to Syracuse’s comfort zone.
Riding a hot goalie on a magical run can mask other flaws against top offenses in elimination games. If converted midfielder Witschonke emerges as a shutdown close defender, anything becomes possible.
Yet being too reckless risks blowouts that crush confidence. Syracuse must walk the fine line between confident and cocky. Overlooking any opponent is perilous.
Injuries or stalled development among freshmen could also deep-six dreams quickly. And faceoff and defensive gaps exploited by savvy coaches may simply prove too much to overcome.
The Bottom Line
While an unlikely championship choice, Syracuse men’s lacrosse has ingredients to cook up some March Madness magic. Blending aura and audacity gives any Desko team a puncher’s chance.
Rising to the moment as underdogs seems to fuel Syracuse’s mystique even more. Counting them out completely only increases their upside potential. This program’s DNA cannot be discounted until the final whistle blows.
After falling short of championship weekend last season, Syracuse men’s lacrosse looks to restore their dominance in 2023. While not ACC favorites, certain X-factors could catalyze a special season that exceeds expectations.
Emergence of Young Stars
Syracuse boasts elite offensive firepower from veterans like Brendan Curry and Owen Hiltz. But the emergence of young studs could take them to another level. Freshmen like Blumenthal, Moffitt, and Fernandez were ranked as top prospects and future stars.
If these young guns translate hype into production immediately, that alleviates pressure on veteran midfielders to do everything. Having multiple threats balances Syracuse’s offense and makes game-planning against them a nightmare.
Young players must also elevate defensively for Syracuse. Long stick midfielders Witschonke and Liebergall have the athleticism to become shutdown cover men quickly under Desko’s tutelage.
Faceoff Dominance from Newcomers
Faceoff excellence is another potential difference-maker for Syracuse. After losing first round pick Drazdowski, new starters like Gartland must continue winning draws at a high clip to fuel the offense.
Controlling possession becomes even more critical against elite teams like Duke and Virginia. If unproven players can maintain faceoff dominance, that erases a huge question mark for the Orange.
Championship teams typically ride hot goalies that get scorching in the postseason. Syracuse boasts talent in the crease, but needs a goalie to separate himself.
New starter Lukanc or freshman recruit McCool could realistically catch fire and shut down even the most prolific offenses. Their save percentages need only be average if one gets hot in the tournament.
Stingy, momentum-swinging goalie play relieves pressure on Syracuse’s defense. It also fuels transition scoring chances that play to Syracuse’s run-and-gun strength.
Hall of Fame coach John Desko elevates Syracuse’s play through smart adjustments. If the offense stagnates, he can introduce new formations or invert dodgers from behind the cage to jumpstart scoring.
His experience also helps manage the season-long grind. Keeping players fresh, focused, and hungry through the ACC slate until tournament time is invaluable.
Desko and assistants excel at game-planning for opponents’ weaknesses. Their strategic edge manifests itself against top teams in the postseason.
Winning Close Games
Championship resumes require winning tight contests. Syracuse must regain their confidence and poise in crunch time after recent frustrating losses in close games.
Veteran leadership should help Syracuse prevail in back-and-forth playoff battles. Leaning on stars like Curry, Phaup, or Kennedy in key moments could make the difference.
Developing a resilient identity that allows them to bounce back after adversity would also serve Syracuse well. Learning how to win as underdogs now pays dividends later as favorites.
With elite offensive weapons, Syracuse is capable of big things if other factors align. Excelling in these X-factor dimensions could make them a dangerous floater in the national title race.
Reaching their potential as a team requires pushing themselves past comfort levels. That championship edge emerges when individuals elevate for the greater good.
The preseason polls have Syracuse men’s lacrosse ranked outside the top 5 for the first time in over a decade. But where will the Orange end up when the dust settles on the 2023 college lacrosse season?
Factors Influencing Ranking
Many variables will determine if Syracuse ascends back to #1 or falls further from their glory days. Strength of schedule plays a huge role, as dominating wins over ACC elites and tournament top seeds boost Syracuse’s profile.
Conversely, bad losses to unranked bottom feeders would sink the Orange. Simply surviving the ACC slog to emerge with a top-four seed keeps Syracuse safely ranked.
Individual players meeting expectations also affects perception. Offensive catalysts like Brendan Curry must perform like All-Americans to drive Syracuse’s ranking ascent.
Eye Test and Quality Wins
While rankings factor multiple metrics, experts also use the eye test to slot teams accordingly. Does Syracuse pass the look of a top squad when examining lineups and performance?
Marquee victories over championship contenders also influence rankings, even if Syracuse stumbles elsewhere. Dominating likely #1 Duke or defending champ Maryland late in the season makes a statement.
Best Case Scenario
In a best case season, Syracuse cleans up in the ACC behind a senior-laden attack and battle-tested defense. Taking down top-five opponents like Duke, Virginia, and Notre Dame cements Syracuse as a top-three team.
Rolling through an upset-laden NCAA tournament behind a breakout performance from goalie McCool would validate Syracuse as a championship-caliber squad. Closing the season with multiple statement victories could lift them to #1.
Winning the ACC tournament along the way provides Syracuse a launching point to the top spot. This path would resemble their rapid rise in 2021 behind faceoff ace Phaup.
Worst Case Scenario
Alternatively, the season could spiral if Syracuse drops games unexpectedly to unranked teams with late collapses. An extreme worst-case would see the Orange miss the NCAA tournament entirely.
Lopsided losses to Duke and Virginia would also signal Syracuse is not yet ready to rejoin the ACC elite. A quick playoff exit could banish Syracuse outside the top 10.
Most Likely Finish
The most realistic outcome sees Syracuse recover from early challenges to secure a top-four NCAA tournament seed after splitting contests against top ACC foes.
Reaching the Final Four behind improved defense and faceoff play seems plausible, although unlikely to be a championship year. This trajectory would probably keep Syracuse ranked around #6-8.
Syracuse should remain a factor in the NCAA title chase, but fall just short of reclaiming #1 amid a crowded field of stalwarts like Duke, Maryland, and Penn State.
The Crystal Ball Says…
Betting on Syracuse to reach the Final Four but ultimately end up around #5-7 in the final 2023 poll seems reasonable. They have enough talent to beat anyone, but probably not escape the ACC without a few marks in the loss column.
Barring massive outlier performances, Syracuse appears bound to rejoin the top tier of title threats, just not dominant wire-to-wire #1 material yet. But their upward trajectory could foreshadow a 2024 championship on the horizon.
Comparing Syracuse to Other Top Contenders
With the 2023 NCAA lacrosse season just around the corner, all eyes are on the top contenders vying for the national championship. The perennial powerhouse Syracuse Orange are poised for another strong showing, but face stiff competition from other elite programs.
Syracuse comes into the new campaign ranked #4 in the major preseason polls. This puts them right behind defending champions Maryland, runner-up Princeton, and arch-rival Virginia. The Orange certainly have the talent and pedigree to compete with anyone.
Head coach Gary Gait has reloaded with a stellar freshman class to complement key returners like Jamie Trimboli, Owen Hiltz, and goalie Bobby Gavin. This mix of veterans and rookies has all the makings of another Final Four squad.
However, the road back to championship weekend goes through the ACC and features some major hurdles. Conference foes like Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina all rank in the top 10 and beat Syracuse last season. The Orange will need to reverse those results in 2023.
Outside the conference, other top contenders like Maryland, Princeton, Penn State, Yale, and Rutgers also lie in wait. Each program fields rosters loaded with All-Americans and future pros.
For Syracuse to hoist the trophy in May, they’ll need career years from Trimboli, Hiltz, Brendan Curry, and others. Faceoff ace Jakob Phaup will be key at the X, while a host of young guns must step up.
There’s also the matter of replacing goalie Drake Porter, who anchored the defense last season. Gavin has huge shoes to fill protecting the crease. If he wavers, it could spell trouble in tight games.
The good news is coach Gait always has his teams playing fast, athletic, and aggressive. The offense is designed to outgun opponents with waves of speedy midfielders and quick-stick attackmen. Few teams can keep pace when the Orange are cranking at their best.
The schedule also helps, with most of the toughest matchups at home in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse is almost unbeatable there, especially come tournament time. The environment gives them a true home-field edge.
Beyond the rankings and roster breakdowns, Syracuse simply knows how to win in May. Gait and his assistants have been there before and rarely flinch under pressure. The players, too, have that championship mentality ingrained in them.
When the stakes are highest, the Orange have proven they elevate their play. That championship DNA cannot be quantified, but sets them apart from other contenders.
Syracuse may not enter 2023 as the unanimous #1 team, but they have everything needed to win it all. From star power to coaching to big-game experience, this is a true title contender.
As the season unfolds, Syracuse will be tested every week in the pressure cooker of the ACC. Key injuries or an upset loss could derail their championship hopes. But if this talented roster comes together and plays to their potential, Syracuse should find itself back in the Final Four mix.
Despite the difficult road ahead, Syracuse remains a top-tier program until proven otherwise. They have staying power and always reload, rather than rebuild. Counting Gait’s team out would be foolish.
While other contenders may get more hype early on, Syracuse lacrosse will be heard from when it matters most in May. They have the savvy, moxie, and personnel to beat anyone. Writing off the Orange would be a mistake. This is a confident team built for championship success.
No doubt Syracuse faces a gauntlet of ACC and national powers in 2023. But they’re embracing the challenge. This group expects to be in the hunt for another title when Memorial Day weekend rolls around. That’s why ‘Cuse belongs in every conversation about top contenders.
As the great Jim Boeheim always says: “We don’t rebuild, we reload.” That mantra lives on with Syracuse lacrosse. So look for the Orange to be right back in the thick of the race for the 2023 NCAA championship.
Conclusion on Syracuse’s Outlook for 2023 Season
With the 2023 campaign about to get underway, Syracuse lacrosse finds itself in a familiar position as a top title contender. Though not the unanimous preseason #1, the Orange have the roster and pedigree needed to make a championship run.
There are certainly challenges ahead, both in and out of the daunting ACC. Syracuse will be tested week in and week out by rivals and national powers. Staying healthy and improving as the season progresses will be critical.
But this is a program that knows what it takes to win when the pressure rises. Head coach Gary Gait and his veteran leaders ensure the team is always prepared for the spotlight.
Syracuse boasts one of the most fearsome offenses nationwide, with playmakers at every position. The upside is limitless if the young guns develop as expected. Dominating possession and outgunning opponents remains the calling card.
There are questions about replacing graduating goalie Drake Porter. Yet the defense is filled with seasoned veterans who know the system. Limiting quality looks on net will be key, allowing the offense to dictate tempo.
In the end, Syracuse’s championship fate may come down to timely play at the X. Will faceoff ace Jakob Phaup rise to the occasion in big games? If so, he can neutralize any opponent’s advantage.
Beyond X’s and O’s, this Orange roster has the intangibles needed for a deep playoff run. Leadership, toughness, chemistry, and swagger abound. When push comes to shove, they have that “it” factor.
Coach Gait will have the team battle-tested come May, ready to raise their game. His track record speaks for itself. And the Carrier Dome provides a true home edge no other contender can match.
Doubters will point to an early upset or key injury derailing Syracuse’s hopes. But this program rarely stumbles when it matters most, thriving under pressure.
While the road ahead is undoubtedly daunting, Syracuse is well-positioned to be a final weekend factor once again. They have the coaching, talent, and experience to beat anyone, anywhere.
Until a challenger pries the crown away, the Orange remain the standard bearer in college lacrosse. Overlooking Syracuse would be unwise.
The ACC and NCAA Tournaments promise to be the usual grind. Syracuse knows they’ll get every foe’s best shot as a measuring stick program.
But make no mistake, this team expects to be the last one standing in May hoisting the trophy. That unwavering belief and confidence give the Orange an edge over any opponent when championships are decided.
Syracuse lacrosse has carved out a special place in the game’s history. This is a preeminent program built to succeed on the biggest stages.
While nothing is guaranteed, Syracuse will be a threat again come Memorial Day weekend. Write them off as a title contender at your own peril.
Coach Gait and company are ready to put in the work and make the sacrifices needed to achieve their lofty goals. That culture and mindset give Syracuse an advantage over less experienced contenders.
When the pressure cooker of May rolls around, this team expects to thrive under fire. Syracuse won’t back down or be denied.
So buckle up for another thrilling rollercoaster ride with Syracuse lacrosse in 2023. It’s sure to be an epic campaign with this title-tested program in the thick of the race once more. Where they end up remains to be seen, but discount the Orange at your own risk.