As part of its 2009 Preseason Preview, Inside Lacrosse is counting down the top teams from Division I, Division II and Division III men's lacrosse as well as the Division I women, leading up to the first faceoff on Feb. 7. Today we take a look at the Syracuse Orange men's side, ranked No. 2.
Five Things to Know
1. Comings and Goings
Since last summer, the following has taken place: Sophomore defenseman John Lade transferred in; fifth-year senior midfielder Scott Kahoe transferred in; sophomore attack Jack Harmatuk transferred out; fifth-year senior goalie Peter Coluccini transferred out; freshman attack Peter Coleman transferred in; freshman defenseman Zach Badalucco transferred out; and junior attack Cody Jamieson has transferred in but isn't eligible to play yet.
2. 52 Pickup
The Orange have 52 players. The large roster comes at a time when a lot of college teams are cutting back on roster spots, in part to streamline practice and ensure that the players are getting enough work in drills. This year, Navy, for instance, for the first time cut about 10 players -- including a couple of seniors.
Syracuse's breakdown: 10 attackmen, 19 midfielders, 13 defensemen, five defensive midfielders and five goalies. "But not everyone will travel," coach John Desko said.
3. Back for Seconds?
Last year, John Galloway became the fifth true freshman starting goalie to win a national title. The others were Rodney Rullman at Virginia in 1972, Kevin Mahon of Johns Hopkins in 1974, Quint Kessenich of Johns Hopkins in 1987 and Derek Kenney of Virginia in 1999.
Oddly, none of the previous four won another title.
Galloway, in particular, is unflappable and also throws very good outlet passes, according to Desko.
4. Leader of the D
Senior Sid Smith is one of the top defensemen in the country and, given Syracuse's schedule, he will defend some of the best players in the country. But is the rest of the defense up to par? Especially given what might be a transition year on faceoffs, some of Smith's and Galloway's biggest contributions might be in getting their teammates into the right places.
5. Change of Scenery
Kahoe is hoping a new environment will do him well following a frank assessment of his career at Georgetown. "The numbers I put up there were pathetic," he said soon after he transferred. Kahoe had an up-and-down career with the Hoyas. He had a lot of potential and also a lot of injuries and, at times, appeared not to see eye-to-eye with the coaches. One thing is certain: He is physically gifted enough to give the Orange an outstanding second midfield line.
Unit to Watch
Of the teams in the top five, Virginia and Johns Hopkins are expected to be much stronger on faceoffs. Cornell will be about the same. But it will be hard for there not to be at least a little drop-off at Syracuse. The Orange should be fine on the wings, with senior midfielder Matt Abbott and sophomore long-stick midfielder Joel White. But losing draws at the X before the wings get involved would be a sure sign of trouble.
The Princeton teams of the late 1990s won national titles while being around 50 percent or worse on faceoffs. But those teams were predicated on strong defenses. Syracuse needs possession for the top midfield (when healthy) of Abbott and seniors Dan Hardy and Pat Perritt to break down defenses, especially short-stick defenders as it did in the NCAA title game last year.
Player to Watch
Sophomore attack Stephen Keogh is an excellent off-ball player, as evidenced by his nine extra-man offense goals in 2008 (tops on the team). On an offense loaded with matchup problems for the opponents, Keogh almost certainly will be defended by a short stick. Opponents will be in big trouble if Keogh wins that matchup.
Will Cody Jamieson play?
Jamieson has been cleared to practice but not to play in games, and it appears he sat out the team's first set of scrimmages Thursday.
A brief recap of Jamieson: His teams at Onondaga CC went 33-0 in 2006 and 2007. His scoring totals in those years? Fifty-seven goals and 64 assists in 2006; 65 goals and 51 assists in 2007. Jamieson is bound to be rusty, given that he did not play in 2008 or in the fall and also missed a week of the preseason while waiting for his eligibility.
He also is a nonpareil indoor player.
How much impact can Orange fans reasonably expect him to have? It is unusual for a junior-college offensive player to make an immediate impact on Division I lacrosse. John Grant did at Delaware in 1998, but it wasn't until 1999 that he hit his stride and the Blue Hens made the NCAA quarterfinals. Peet Poillon had a very good first year at Ohio State last year, but he was under the radar much more than Jamieson.
People talk about Maryland junior Will Yeatman being rusty after he too missed 2008. But Yeatman has an uncommon size and skill set on which to fall back.
For the complete Syracuse men's lacrosse preview, go to Inside Lacrosse.