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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #11 Syracuse Orange

After a whirlwind fall, the young Orange managed to go undefeated in ACC regular season play and host an NCAA Tournament game.

Michael J. Okoniewski/Syracuse Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete and fall ball just around the corner, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series last week with Villanova, Richmond, Robert Morris, UMass, and Georgetown.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#11 Syracuse Orange

Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 8-7 (4-0 in ACC play)
Postseason: Lost to Virginia in ACC semifinal, lost to Cornell in NCAA First Round
Head coach: John Desko (20th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Brendan Bomberry (28)
Assists: Stephen Rehfuss (28)
Points: Stephen Rehfuss (48)
Faceoffs: Dan Varello (134-of-279; 48%)
Ground balls: Dan Varello (52)
Caused turnovers: Nick Mellen (22)
Goals against average: Dom Madonna (10.84 GAA)
Save percentage: Dom Madonna (46.5%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Brendan Bomberry (28 Gs, 8 As, 17 CTs), G Dom Madonna (10.84 GAA, 46.5% SV %, 26 GBs, 1 A), M Matt Lane (5 Gs, 4 As), M Ryan Simmons (3 Gs, 2 As), FOGO Seth DeLisle (44.4% faceoff draws, 11 GBs, 1 G)
Senior scoring departing: 52 of 266 points (19.5%)
Senior starts lost: 30 of 150 (20%)

Season Summary

After a thrilling 2017 season filled with one-goal games, 2018 was a bit of a step back with tons of younger contributors. It also didn’t help that most of the fall was wiped out due to a mumps outbreak.

But once the team got back together in late November, it was business as usual for the Orange with a dominating 21-4 win over Binghamton in the season-opener. But the scripts were flipped in their annual rivalry game with Albany. With the Orange down 4-1 at half, the Great Danes outscored Syracuse 11-2 in the second half to take home a rare victory inside the Carrier Dome. But for the next two weeks, the “old” Cuse showed up in thrilling fashion. The Orange exploded on offense in the second half against Army West Point and won the game on a Ryan Simmons goal thanks to a deep dime by Dom Madonna in triple overtime. One week later in their ACC opener against Virginia, the future made their impact in another thriller against the Cavaliers. Eight of the team’s 12 goals were scored by freshmen or sophomores, with half of them coming from Tucker Dordevic.

Momentum was on Syracuse’s side in their rivalry showdown against Johns Hopkins. But it was completely sucked out by the visiting Blue Jays, who won by 11 inside the Carrier Dome. A week later in Piscataway against Rutgers, the Orange led by one late in the third quarter but gave up a seven goal run to the Scarlet Knights, including four from Jules Heningburg, to lose another big nonconference showdown.

The Orange regained some of their juice in a rainy game against Duke in Durham, thanks to four goals from Brendan Bomberry and another game-winner from Jamie Trimboli. That was followed a second half outburst to pull away from Notre Dame back in the Dome, marking the team’s first win over a ranked team by more than a goal since beating Albany in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

After beating Hobart at home, Syracuse fell to nearby rival Cornell by five goals. But they did rebound four days later at home to a very hungry North Carolina team. Down three with 7:22 left in regulation, Stephen Rehfuss and Brendan Curry scored three goals to tie the game with 48 seconds left before Curry found Bomberry for the game-winner. That gave Syracuse their second straight undefeated year in conference play and also pretty much eliminated UNC from a potential berth in the NCAA Tournament.

But Cuse’s luck may have ran out too early. They fell to Navy in the dying seconds of regulation after giving up two goals in nine seconds. The Orange were unable to beat Virginia in the ACC semifinals after staying tight with them for the entire second half. And after crushing Colgate, Syracuse fell to the Big Red for the second time in the season, this time at home, and weren’t able to get a goal in the final minute of regulation.

The attack unit of Bomberry, Rehfuss, and Nate Solomon all had at least 20 goals and 35 points on the year. Rehfuss had a team-high 28 assists while Bomberry had a team-high 28 goals. The chemistry was still strong even when Brad Voigt was inserted as the fourth attackman. The reserve attackman, who was also a man-up specialist, recorded nine goals and five assists in his junior year. Freshman Owen Seebold also got some runs in as the fifth attackman. Trimboli and Dordevic started all 15 games at midfield, while Curry started the final game after Peter Dearth was converted to a defensive midfielder. Redshirt-freshman David Lipka was a sniper on the second line with 13 goals and saw plenty of time along with redshirt-seniors Ryan Simmons and Matt Lane, as well as redshirt-junior Pat Carlin.

The defense saw the return of redshirt-sophomore Nick Mellen, who led the team with 22 caused turnovers and covered the opposing team’s top attackman. Mellen was joined by junior Tyson Bomberry and redshirt-junior Marcus Cunningham for most of the season. Bomberry and Cunningham were banged up for parts of the season, which gave way for redshirt-freshman Brett Kennedy to contribute. Kennedy saw time at close defense as well as LSM while Nick DiPietro and Nick Martin saw time at close defense, with Martin mainly used as a man-down defender. Austin Fusco joined Kennedy at LSM, and the group also saw contributions from Andrew Helmer and Jared Fernandez. Fernandez suffered a season-ending injury in the regular season meeting against Virginia, while Helmer was converted to a short stick midway through the season. Dami Oladunmoye, Grant Murphy, Kevin Hutchings, and Luke Schwasnick were also SSDMs. Dan Varello took the majority of the faceoff draws with senior Seth DeLisle being the primary backup, while Dom Madonna started all 15 games with Drake Porter as his top backup.

Looking Ahead

Barring anymore health outbreaks, the Orange should have a full fall season which will go a long way for the development of nearly everyone on the team. And nearly everyone from last year’s squad is back, along with a large group of incoming freshmen.

Solomon and Rehfuss will return to the starting lineup at attack, with Voigt looking like the third attackman in that lineup. The entire top midfield returns, along with Lipka and Carlin. Keep an eye out for Jacob Buttermore and Lucas Quinn as young guys that could possibly be on the second unit. The entire starting defense and rope unit are all back, with Fernandez returning from his injury. Varello is back as the top FOGO with Martin, Jake Phaup, and Nate Garlow as backups. Porter appears to be in the lead as the starting goalie and has shown plenty of flashes in multiple appearances in the past two years. Luke Strang and Willie Klan might have a different say in that discussion.

Here’s who the Orange will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Syracuse’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Basil Aburn Attack/Midfield Boys' Latin (MD)
Mikey Berkman Attack West Orange (FL)
Griffin Cook Attack Jamesville-DeWitt (NY)
Logan Dieball Midfield Archbishop Moeller (OH)
Pete Fiorini Midfield Baldwinsville (NY)
Owen Hull Defense Rye (NY)
Shahe Katchadurian Goalie John Jay (NY)
Jack Kennedy Defense Ridgewood (NJ)
Andrew Kim Midfield Don Bosco (NJ)
Justin Kim Midfield Don Bosco (NJ)
Tyler Lawton Midfield New Providence (NJ)
Matt Magnan Midfield Fox Lane (NY)
Seth Thornton Midfield/FO Scarsdale (NY)
Jacob Walthour Defense/LSM Salisbury (CT)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will Syracuse get in 2019?

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  • 5%
    (4 votes)
  • 20%
    (16 votes)
  • 45%
    (35 votes)
  • 28%
    (22 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now