No. 7 Syracuse (8-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) travels to Navy (5-6, 3-4 Patriot League) on Saturday for the first game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since 1982. SU is looking for its fourth-straight win in its regular-season finale.
Im keeping the score close(r), but this is a win for Syracuse. The Orange have been rolling as of late and this probably wont be the game where they slow down. SU seemingly outpaces Navy in every single statistical category and is playing some of the best lacrosse its played all season with a focus on patient, methodical play through the attack. The defense has been strong, the offense has been powerful and Syracuse has been a problem in its recent games. Expect that to continue Saturday, and the Orange end its regular season with a win.
The Orange end the regular season with a steady, easy victory at the U.S. Naval Academy on Saturday. Now that I predict this, it will be a one-goal thriller like last year. But, Syracuse has more firepower than the Midshipmen can handle. With the 41st scoring defense in the country (11.55 goals per game), Navy seems prone to get swamped in the defensive end. The only hope is goalie Ryan Kern — 17th in save percentage (54.3) — gets hot. Still, the Midshipmens offense is no better off, scoring just over 10 goals a game. Thats not enough to cut it against a stingy Syracuse defense. The Orange get the win and can be at ease, knowing an NCAA tournament bid is in their grasp.
Hey, Im above-.500! This one is pretty easy. Syracuse is on a roll heading into the postseason. This game is seemingly a tune-up. A loss would hurt the Oranges RPI ranking, but a strong showing in the ACC tournament could secure a home game for the NCAA tourney. What I mean to say is, look for SU to ride the red-hot combo of Danny Varello and Jakob Phaup early, Nate Solomon and Bradley Voigt add to their season tallies and the defense holds another offense, this Midshipmen attack less-talented than Cornells and Hobarts, to under 10 goals. In what Im sure will be a fun venue for my beat partners to experience, the game should be a SU blowout.
Annapolis, Md. — There was at least one person who saw Syracuses 18-goal outburst on Saturday coming.
Nate Solomon led the way on offense with a hat-trick and an assist, while fellow starting attackmen Stephen Rehfuss and Bradley Voigt each recorded three points. FOGO Danny Varello took the bulk of the draws and went 13-of-18 on the afternoon with seven ground balls with goalie Drake Porter making 12 saves as well.
Nate said something yesterday about the attack kind of going off today, but its kind of in one ear and out the other with Nate with stuff that he says, attackman Bradley Voigt said with a laugh.
Perhaps the Orange will take heed of the seniors clairvoyance moving forward after walloping Navy 18-9 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in a regular-season finale that featured an offensive barrage in six-on-six, extra-man and unsettled situations.
Voigt scored five goals, Stephen Rehfuss delivered two goals and five assists and Solomon had two goals and three assists for the Orange (9-3), who have won four in a row entering the ACC Tournament. Midfielder Jamie Trimboli added three goals and an assist.
Collectively, Syracuses starting attack shot 9 of 14 while dealing Navy (5-7) its most lopsided home loss since a 15-4 setback against Duke in 1996.
I think we are finding ourselves there, Orange coach John Desko said. I think theyre all playing within themselves. I thought Brads been pretty consistent all year long, and getting Stephen back healthy finally, whether hes not hurt or hes not sick, I think hes able to perform and do the things hes capable of doing. Nates playing more within himself also.
Defenseman Nick Mellen helped hold Christian Daniel, Navys leading scorer, without a point while goalie Drake Porter matched a career high with 16 saves. Ryan Wade led the Mids with a goal and two assists.
The blowout provided Syracuse the chance to rest some regulars on offense in the final eight minutes, a development even more helpful than usual considering the Oranges ACC Tournament schedule.
Syracuse was locked into the No. 4 seed of the five-team event earlier in the day, forcing the Orange into an opening round game Thursday at North Carolina. With a victory over the Tar Heels, the Orange will face top-seeded Virginia on Saturday.
The Orange had little to complain about after their step outside of conference play. Unlike last year, when Navy hung around and then scored twice in the final nine seconds to secure a 13-12 victory at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse had this game effectively wrapped up shortly after halftime.
Credit some of it to an old Orange staple — transition play — that keyed a 9-1 run that spanned halftime and turned a 4-4 game into a rout.
Voigt scored twice in transition in the second quarter — first off a feed from Brett Kennedy, then in a perfectly executed break off a Solomon pass — as Syracuse claimed a 6-4 lead. After Navy got one back, David Lipka zipped past a short stick to beat goalie Ryan Kern and then fed Trimboli for another score.
You think of Syracuse, theyre kind of synonymous with transition and they have slick sticks, Navy coach Rick Sowell said. Voigt, he catches everything. Four guys draped around him and hell catch it and the next thing you know hes spinning out of trouble and scoring goals.
Solomon soon added an extra-man goal and Voigt tacked on a score in the final minute of the half to make it 10-5 at the break. Syracuse then scored the first three goals of the second half to seal the victory.
Plenty was working for the Orange, including a 3-for-3 showing on man-up. Still the transition spark provided a hint of what Syracuses potential when it can create frantic situations for foes.
We always want to take those opportunities if we have them, and they presented themselves today, Desko said. We wanted to get out going from defense to offense, and we got a couple off the faceoff, too, which was good to see. Our short sticks are getting better clearing and, obviously playing defense, but [also] being more of an offensive threat.
Five of Syracuses starters had multi-point days, and there were other firsts throughout the roster. Sophomore Owen Seebold and freshman Andrew Kim recorded their first career goals. Sophomore midfielder Lucas Quinn had a goal and an assist, his first points of the season and his first multi-point game since Feb. 10, 2018, against Binghamton.
Six-on-six, the middies were doing their job, Rehfuss said. A lot of the times we were just finishing or they were finishing our feeds. I just think six-on-six, we were working really well.
Certainly the best team weve played since Loyola (on March 16), Sowell said. Loyolas kind of struggling now, so they might be the best team weve played on our schedule this year. Theyre a good team. You make a mistake and theyll make you pay and thats exactly what they did today against us.