SYRACUSE, N.Y. –The Orange men’s lacrosse team kicks off the 2012 season on Sunday, Feb. 5 with a three-way scrimmage inside the Carrier Dome. The eighth-ranked Orange will host Hofstra at 12 p.m. and take on Division II powerhouse Le Moyne at 2 p.m. The Pride and Dolphins square off in the opening game at 10 a.m.
This marks the sixth straight season the Hofstra and Le Moyne have visited the Dome for a round of preseason exhibitions.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12-and-under. Parking is $10 per car in the surface lots located off Irving Avenue across from the Dome.
ABOUT THE ORANGE
After winning back-to-back BIG EAST regular-season championships in 2010 and 2011, the Orange once again enter the season as the favorite to claim the BIG EAST title, according the league’s seven coaches.
Despite losing seven starters from 2011, Syracuse has back two of its top three scorers in juniorJoJo Marasco (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and seniorTommy Palasek (Rocky Point, N.Y.). Along with Marasco and Palasek, the Orange will rely heavily on junior defensemanBrian Megill (Clark, N.J.), who was named a second-team preseason All-American byInside Lacrosse.
Last season, Marasco and Palasek combined for 40 goals and 36 assists, while Megill established himself as one of the best defenders in the country, recording 34 ground balls and leading all SU close defensemen with 27 caused turnovers.
In addition, the Orange attack will be aided by the return of a healthy Tim Desko (Syracuse, N.Y.). During the 2011 season, Desko tallied 16 goals and three assists before missing seven of the team’s final eight games due to injury. Despite being hurt, Desko was still selected to the 2011 All-BIG EAST Second Team.
One of the primary challenges for the Orange will be finding a replacement for two-time All-American goalie John Galloway, who last season led the Orange to a 15-2 record en route to its 31st NCAA Tournament appearance.
Redshirt sophomore Matthew Lerman (Villanova, Pa.) was Galloway’s backup last season and has the upper hand in securing the starting spot. Lerman played in seven games a year ago and totaled eight saves. The Villanova, Pa. product will be pushed for time by six other goaltenders, including Maryland transferDominic Lamolinara (Arnold, Md.).
Syracuse head coach John Desko has been a model of success ever since becoming head coach of the Orange in 1999. He leads all active Division I head coaches with a .779 winning percentage. Desko boasts an overall record of 162-46 in 13 seasons. He has five NCAA national titles to his credit, trailing only Roy Simmons Jr. and Bill Tierney who have each won six.
The Pride enters the 2012 season ranked 14th in the USILA Coaches’ Poll after going 13-3 last year and losing to Johns Hopkins in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
This season, the Pride is led by a trio of players who were selected to Inside Lacrosse’s preseason All-America teams. Junior midfielder John Antoniades was a third-team selection after winning 174-of-271 (.642) faceoffs and leading the team with 84 ground balls in 2011.
Senior goalie Andrew Gvodzen and junior defender Cody Solaja both earned honorable mention recognition from the magazine. Last season, Gvodzen recorded a 6.0 goals-against average, a .602 save percentage and started all 16 games between the pipes for the Pride. Solaja, who registered 14 ground balls last year, headlines a unit that led the nation in scoring defense (6.56) in 2011.
The Pride boasts an experienced midfield. Along with Antoniades, Hofstra returns seniors Kevin Ford and Brad Loizeaux. Ford and Loizeaux combined for 20 goals and 14 assists last season while playing in all 16 of the Pride’s games.
Head coach Seth Tierney is in his sixth season at Hofstra. He has led the team to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
SCOUTING LE MOYNE
The Dolphins are always one of the favorites to win the Division II national championship. This year is no exception. The folks atInside Lacrosse ranked Le Moyne No. 5 in their annual Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll after the Dolphins registered a 12-2 record, including a 10-0 conference mark, during the 2011 season.
After missing the 2010 campaign due to injury, graduate student midfielder Tyler Sennet returned last year and had a solid season. Sennet tallied 16 goals and two assists and will likely key the team’s offense in 2012.
Along with Sennet, the Dolphins also return junior defensemen Alex Cameron-Carter and senior long-stick midfielder Brian Craig. The duo serves as the squad’s defensive anchor. Cameron-Carter picked up 15 ground balls last season, while Craig forced 19 turnovers and collected 39 ground balls.
Head coach Dan Sheehan is 185-37 in 14 seasons with the Dolphins. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sheehan guided Le Moyne to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.
Sheehan recently hired former Orange standout Mike MacDonald as one of his assistant coaches. MacDonald played 37 games for Syracuse from 2004-08 and was a member of two national championship teams.
UP NEXT …
Syracuse wraps up preseason play with a home exhibition game Sunday, Feb. 12 against Maryland. The Terps eliminated the Orange in the NCAA quarterfinals last season and advanced to the national championship game before losing to Virginia. Faceoff is slated for 12 p.m. at the Dome.