Syracuse men’s lacrosse roundtable: Wrapping up the 2016 season and looking ahead to next year

September 16, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Syracuse men’s lacrosse’s season ends with 13-7 loss to Maryland in NCAA quarterfinalsSyracuse men’s lacrosse’s defense crumbles in 13-7 quarterfinal loss to MarylandSergio Salcido doesn’t fit the mold of a Syracuse lacrosse star, but he’s emerging as oneHow Syracuse men’s lacrosse adopted the faceoff cultureNick Mariano honors late childhood friend by wearing No. 23 Syracuse’s (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) season ended on Saturday with a 13-7 loss to Maryland in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. For the second year in a row SU fell one win short of a Final Four berth and the Orange missed the final weekend of the season for the third straight year. Syracuse hasn’t won a national title since 2009, its longest championship drought since 1983.With the season in the books, beat writers Connor Grossman, Jon Mettus and Paul Schwedelson reflect on the year and look ahead.1. How successful (or unsuccessful) was this season based on what expectations were for Syracuse coming into the season?Connor Grossman: From the beginning of the season I believed Syracuse was replacing too much a talent to make a run into Memorial Day weekend. So in a sense that ended up being true, but SU still experienced an averagely successful year given the breakouts of Sergio Salcido, Nick Mariano and Evan Molloy. Mariano transferred from Massachusetts, and along with Salcido helped fill the scoring void left by five offensive starters graduating. Molloy sured up a defense that was lost against top-tier teams in the middle of the season, and even patched up the Orange’s clearing game with his athleticism that Warren Hill lacked. So given that Syracuse filled holes it was wondering how it would fill, it was an averagely successful year. Expectations should be higher for next year though, even with the departure of offensive anchor Dylan Donahue.Jon Mettus: Syracuse was ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll, but expectations for the team were tempered coming into the season. Replacing five of the top six scorers and the goalie from the year before and adding a freshman on defense were big challenges to overcome. There were disappointing games (Notre Dame and Cornell) and surprising ones, too (North Carolina by six goals and the Atlantic Coast Conference championship). In the context of the last seven years, this season is a disappointment because the Orange again didn’t make it to the Final Four. But ultimately, based on the expectations at the beginning, it was relatively successful. Syracuse was able to win the ACC title and unfortunately had to face No. 1 seed Maryland in the quarterfinals. As head coach John Desko said: “These guys had a great year. We had a lot of graduation the previous year. We fought back.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPaul Schwedelson: I thought Syracuse would lose in the quarterfinals at the beginning of the year and it did. To the Syracuse community however, anything less than a championship is a disappointment. This used to be the preeminent program in college lacrosse. Only one Final Four berth since 2009 shows that the college lacrosse world of today is different from the one your father, or even just your older sibling, got used to. There’s more talent across the board and players are realizing they don’t have to go to Syracuse to be successful. An ACC championship and a quarterfinals loss to the top-seeded team isn’t a disappointment but legacies are built during deep postseason runs and SU only won one game.Riley Bunch | Staff Photographer2. How can players that stepped up, like Mariano and Salcido, keep up their production from this season?C.G.: It wouldn’t be a shock to see those two fall victim to experience, with more film available to opponents than ever before from their breakout seasons this year. But Mariano showed this year he’s a talented enough shooter to beat almost any defense, purely because he can shoot from the perimeter. Desko frequently referred to him as SU’s “3-point specialist” with his outside shooting prowess, and Salcido has his own unique skill set. He can outrun almost any defender. But if Salcido’s going to repeat the success he had in 2016 though, he’ll likely have to work a little more on shooting on the run, a position he often finds himself in.J.M.: It’s hard to predict how exactly guys will figure into the scoring load from year-to-year. With lineups and positions unknown, everything is up in the air. If Salcido and Mariano stay on the same midfield line, they should have the favorable matchups to keep up their production. With Tim Barber and Donahue gone next season though, some of what Salcido and Mariano are able to do will depend on the replacements at attack’s ability to find them and draw attention away. Those are two guys I can see continuing to step up when next season comes around.P.S.:  Heading into next season the biggest question on the offensive end is who will replace Donahue and Barber on attack. Mariano, being an attack nearly his entire career before this year, may be in the conversation to bump up. That would shake things up. But if Mariano and Salcido stay on the same midfield line, there’s no reason they can’t repeat their dominant play, if not play even better. Teams often had to decide which midfielder to put the long pole on (Maryland exposed SU by putting a pole on both and a short stick on Jordan Evans) and the duo should be able to replicate the same matchup problems by staying on the same midfield line.Liam Sheehan | Staff Photographer3. It’s really early, but what do you see ahead for Syracuse next season? What expectations do you have of that team?C.G.: The expectation, as it is almost every year for Syracuse, is that a few young players will successfully transition into the starting lineup after valuable time as a reserve or redshirt learning from some of the best talent in the country. There’s going to be new faces on offense, but don’t forget starting defenders Brandon Mullins and Jay McDermott are on their way out as well. There’s going to be less transition than there was this season, but Syracuse is still going to have to learn a bit on the fly if it wants a third straight ACC championship, and more importantly, a deeper run in the NCAA tournament.J.M.: As with every year, you expect Syracuse to contend for a conference title and vie for a spot in the Final Four. Ben Williams, Salcido, Mariano and Nick Mellen are primed for good seasons. I think freshman Nate Solomon, who had two goals in the ACC semifinal and two against Maryland, will be a big part of the offense. He wants to be the quarterback and that spot is open. A big factor in how successful Syracuse will be is Jordan Evans. It’ll be his last shot to live up to the expectations that he had as the No. 1 recruit. He was fifth on the team in goals this season and led SU in turnovers. Free of injury, this was supposed to be his year and it wasn’t at all. If he can become a go-to scorer it’ll make Salcido and Mariano even more dangerous.Hannah Wagner | Staff PhotographerP.S.:  There are a lot of players to count on having another big season (Mariano, Salcido, Molloy, Williams, Mellen) but the Orange will need to replace stalwarts like Donahue, Barber and Mullins. The offensive load seems as though it will fall on Mariano and Salcido’s shoulders. But other than those two, there’s a lot up in the air. Just as we said at the beginning of this year, a go-to ice-water-in-their-veins type of player needs to emerge. Perhaps that player is Williams, who single-handedly kept SU in the game against Maryland, but when Syracuse needs a goal, I’m not sure who is going to score it. And when you look at the teams in the Final Four this upcoming weekend, every team has that kind of player (See: Dylan Molloy, Matt Rambo, Steve Pontrello, Pat Spencer). If SU doesn’t have one, I’m not sure how deep it can go. Commentscenter_img Published on May 25, 2016 at 10:07 amlast_img



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