t h e i n de p e n de n t s t u de n t n e w s pa p e r of s y r ac u s e , n e w yor k |
LACROSSE GUIDE 2017
NEW APPROACH MOVES FOR JAGGER
ALL IN THE FAMILY
STAYING ON BOARD
Junior midfielder Brendan Bomberry transferred from Denver to be closer to his son, Jagger. PAGE 3
Evan Molloy comes from a long line of Syracuse lacrosse royalty. Sometimes it’s hard to live in that shadow. PAGE 5
Taylor Gait was part of Syracuse’s best ever recruiting class. But injuries have kept her here while the rest of the class left. PAGE 11
2 lacrosse guide 2017
t h e i n de p e n de n t s t u de n t n e w s pa p e r of s y r a c u s e , n e w yor k Dear Readers,
Both Syracuse teams enter the season without their best players from the year before. On the men’s side, Nate Solomon is the newest starting attack, Evan Molloy is finally entering a season as the unquestioned starter and Brendon Bomberry is looking for success after transferring here to be closer to family. On the women’s side, Taylor Gait is now the only one from her recruiting class left, Nicole Levy is growing back into a facilitating role and two former players, Halle Majorana and Allie Murray, stayed on as assistant coaches. Enjoy our stories, and thanks for reading.
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lacrosse guide 2017 3
After 2 years at Denver, Brendan Bomberry realized he had to be closer to his son
BRENDAN BOMBERRY led the country with 11 man-up goals at Denver last season. But over the summer, the junior decided to put his family first by transferring to SU. He’ll now be just a four-hour car ride from his nearly 2-year-old son, who was born in Syracuse. Bomberry took that as a sign this is the city where he belongs. ally moreo photo editor
By Paul Schwedelson senior staff writer
hsweken, ontario —
Brendan Bomberry’s phone wouldn’t stop buzzing. So many texts. So many calls. The constant hum prevented him from opening the lock screen. Sitting in the airplane seat on a tarmac in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Feb. 26, 2015, Brendan’s new life began. He had become a father. “One of the happiest days of my life, him being born,” Brendan said, “but it was also one of the scariest.” Jagger, his son, arrived hundreds of miles away and shockingly early. The boy was born three months prematurely — so early that Brendan hadn’t told most of his teammates and coaches that his girlfriend Brittany Sobeski was pregnant. She had stopped in Syracuse to meet up with Brendan’s relatives for a drive from Ontario to Chapel Hill, where Brendan’s Denver lacrosse team would play North Carolina, when the contractions started. Mothers of premature babies typically receive steroids for the child’s heart and lungs. But Brittany’s labor started as nurses changed shifts, and it moved quickly. She panicked. St. Joseph’s Hospital doctors performed an emergency cesarean surgery. The whole process took 30 minutes. “Chaos,” Brittany said. Brendan didn’t want to play against the Tar Heels, but did at Brittany’s urging. He scored two goals and then immediately flew to Syracuse. He saw his newborn son battling through complications from his premature birth. Jagger weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces. For the first month, his heart stopped once a day and once a night. Brittany asked nurses if her son would survive. They couldn’t tell her. They didn’t know. Brittany lived at the hospital with Jagger for 64 days. She never left for more than a few hours at a time. Those few moments she spent with Brendan’s aunt Cheri and uncle Marshall, the planned copilots for the Chapel Hill trip. But Brittany always returned to Jagger quickly. Otherwise, anxiety kicked in. After a few days in Syracuse, Brendan had to return to school at Denver. He and Brittany FaceTimed constantly as the father waited for news of his son. As days became weeks and weeks became months, Brendan realized monitoring another human life was now his life. He had to grow up.
In summer 2016, after two trying years at Denver and just before the transfer deadline, he made a decision for his family. Jagger being born in Syracuse was a sign, he thought. It must be. Brendan decided to finally join the team he’d admired since childhood. Lacrosse had been the one constant in his life since Jagger’s birth. The sport, in Mohawk tradition, serves as the thread tying the living to their ancestors. He found comfort in the familiarity and led the nation in man-up goals with 11 last season as a part of his 33 points. To reconnect with his family though, he needed to make a change. Now, the junior attack will be a key cog in Syracuse’s offense this season. “SU is the only place that would have taken me away from Denver,” Brendan said. ••• epending on the season, the surface behind Brendan’s childhood home functions as a box lacrosse field or an ice hockey rink. It was one of the most popular spots in his neighborhood because all the other kids in his family came over to play. From there, you can see the adjacent houses belonging to his grandparents and an aunt. That family community helped Brendan’s parents, Amy and Patrick, raise their first-born son when they had him as teenagers. Brendan spent a lot of time with his cousins as his parents worked to sustain the family. After he was born, Patrick worked through high school with two part-time jobs, one as a factory security guard and the other at a gas station. Amy was in college with an active baby boy. As a child, Brendan’s routine became wake up, grab a stick and play on the rink. Brendan’s grandparents set a curfew because they couldn’t sleep when pucks and balls smashed off the boards late at night. The kids adapted, forced to be accurate: Hit the net or cause a ruckus. Family and lacrosse collided for Brendan in Syracuse. He often drove four hours to the Carrier Dome to watch his uncle Marshall, a key figure in the Orange’s 2000 national championship. He always wanted to play in the Dome. When he transferred to SU, Brendan wanted to wear No. 43, Marshall’s number. But it was taken. Still, his family and his heritage serve as his primary motivation. “Before I step on the field,” Brendan said, “that’s what I think about. ‘Who am I playing for? Why am I doing this?’ I think of my family, my son, the Creator and my people.” Brendan hadn’t chosen Syracuse at first for a few reasons. Part of it
see bomberry page 4
4 lacrosse guide 2017
from page 3
bomberry was that he wanted to play at the same school as Zach Miller, his best friend and high school teammate. He was also intrigued by the Denver staff. Head coach Bill Tierney, a six-time national champion at Princeton, pitched Brendan on taking an unproven Pioneers program to unprecedented heights. While they supported Brendan, the decision surprised several family members. Many worried that living three-quarters across the continent would be too far. But Brendan, not yet burdened with responsibility, wanted to see something new. At first, Brendan was shy as he acclimated to DU. Teammate Matt Jones could tell his roommate was far away from his family for the first time. He wasn’t uncomfortable because of where he was, but because of where he wasn’t. “I really took for granted my time I spent with (family),” Brendan said. “It really hit home that I’m a few thousand miles away. I started to get really homesick, and things just kind of (created a) domino effect from there.” Right around the time Brendan felt comfortable in his first trimester, Brittany entered one of her own. ••• uggling lacrosse, Brittany, Jagger and everything else became an increasingly imposing challenge. Brendan played in four games after North Carolina, but felt distracted. He struggled to keep up in class, particularly with Analytical Inquiry II. The computer science course asked students to write code for video game software. Brendan’s preoccupation with his family contributed to him missing the term’s class drop deadline. He eventually failed the class, rendering him ineligible for the season’s final 11 games. He couldn’t travel for road games, meaning some weekends suddenly became free. Four or five times from March until May, Brendan flew from Denver to Syracuse to see his girlfriend and son. Brendan felt obligated to be there for ailing Jagger. “(Ineligibility) was a blessing in disguise,” Brendan said. Brendan met Jagger and Brittany in Ontario once the hospital released them. The family drove to Philadelphia to see Denver play in the Final Four. He couldn’t play but wanted to support his teammates. He
I REALLY TOOK FOR GRANTED MY TIME I SPENT WITH (FAMILY). IT REALLY HIT HOME THAT I’M A FEW THOUSAND MILES AWAY. I STARTED TO GET REALLY HOMESICK, AND THINGS JUST KIND OF (CREATED A) DOMINO EFFECT FROM THERE. BRENDAN BOMBERRY SU MIDFIELDER
also wanted Jagger to have that memory. The Pioneers that weekend claimed their first national title as Tierney realized the fantasy he’d pitched Brendan long ago. The championship ring now sits at Amy and Patrick’s house alongside the rest of Brendan’s trophies. The following summer, Brendan spent nearly every day with his girlfriend and son. He struggled leaving for school in the fall, overcome with emotion. He had decided to drive to Denver for sophomore year. Before he set out, Brendan told Brittany he wouldn’t go without her and Jagger. Within an hour, the three left together. Brittany finally told her mother as they approached the U.S. border. The three lived with five DU teammates for about two months. The other players, said Matt Jones, felt like uncles. They helped however they could, but eventually the three moved into their own apartment. “We’re super spontaneous,” Brittany said. “Everything’s not really planned with us.” Patrick had told Brendan before he left to be careful of his actions. No matter what, he said, Jagger will be watching. Brendan has since cut back on occasional trips to the bar, and now brings Jagger along when he hangs out with friends. They mostly stay in and play Xbox One games, like NBA 2K or NHL. In moving to Denver, Brittany had put her modeling career on hold. She felt comfortable with the sacrifice, but the Colorado fashion scene barely existed. She modeled for one show in nine months and thought, for her career to thrive, she needed to live near a vogue hub like Toronto. Anxiety built up in Brendan as he knew Brittany didn’t want to live in Denver for a second year. The strain of two dreams and one child made it impossible to be a couple. This past summer, Brittany and Brendan stopped dating. They currently share custody of Jagger and remain in close contact. “For him to excel, Jagger’s got to be a part of his life,” grandfather Scott Smith said. “He
can’t go away and not see Jagger for weeks or months at a time. He just wouldn’t be the same person or the same player because of that.” ••• henever Brendan and Brittany drove past the Carrier Dome on the way to or from St. Joseph’s Hospital, Brendan would say, “I hope I can play there one day.” Brendan had tried two or three times to call coach Tierney and tell him he intended to transfer, but the courage to do so never appeared. It was one of the harder things he’d ever had to do. The call disappointed Tierney, but Brendan recalled him understanding. Now, for the first time, Brendan will play in the city most tied to him and his son. Jagger remains the primary reason for Brendan’s transfer, but he also said that he would’ve liked more playing time than he received as a second-line midfielder. (Tierney declined to be interviewed for this story.) Since transferring, Brendan’s five younger brothers and sisters, ranging from 5 to 15 years old, no longer ask, “How many sleeps until Brendan comes home?” Unlike when he was at Denver, Brendan’s siblings now know the answer: not many. He visited multiple times a month last semester, and while that number will lessen during lacrosse season, he’s still only a four-hour car ride away. That also means Jagger. Brendan’s absence sometimes makes it harder for him, Brittany said, when other dads pick up their kids at daycare. “Every time I feel Jagger misses him, I feel guilty and I come right to Syracuse,” Brittany said. “I want Jagger to be happy, and I want Jagger to be with his dad.” Brendan’s adjusted to the new school by bringing Jagger along while hanging out with teammates. When Brittany and his son are in Syracuse, the three often eat
out on Erie Boulevard with senior midfielder Sergio Salcido. Once, at Moe’s, Jagger chugged a medium sweet tea “faster than I’ve ever seen someone chug before,” Salcido said, laughing. Sophomore attack Nate Solomon often has the three over to his South Campus apartment and jokes he likes the son more than the father. The parents once had to calm Jagger down because a fake rhino paperweight in the bathroom freaked him out. Looking back, Solomon and Salcido said, Jagger helped the transfer not feel like one. Brendan has big dreams for him and his new teammates. He is someone who has already watched teammates celebrate a national championship. He’d like to do it again, but this time play with them. And, most of all, he wants Jagger with him. ••• rendan drove the back roads on the way home at the end of fall semester. He makes rides in his Lincoln MKZ feel shorter by singing along to country music. At the Canadian border, the two-lane highway became a single lane. He passed farmland, wind turbines and snow-covered empty plains. He stopped once in two hours, for a school bus dropping a kid off at an intersection. The further he drove, the more purple flags flew printed with the Hiawatha belt. They reminded Brendan where he came from: his family, his ancestors, his people. The ones he plays for. They’re what make an end-of-semester, four-hour car ride possible, as opposed to a four-hour flight. Brendan arrived at his Ohsweken home, and no one seemed surprised to see him. Siblings and cousins continued their War card game. Jagger walked over wearing a T-shirt that read, “Dad’s All-Star MVP.” A wooden lacrosse stick sat atop the living room mantle. Amy and Patrick put everything away they thought Jagger could throw. He found a mini hockey stick and a ball, anyway, and began swinging it all over the family’s living room. “Whoa,” Brendan said. “Careful!” This is what he missed seeing before the transfer. Brendan scooped up his son, who tugged at his short-sleeved camouflage shirt. Then he reached for his dad’s backward Oakley baseball cap. “He knows if I have a hat on, I’m probably leaving,” Brendan said, “so he takes it off.” But now when Brendan leaves, Jagger knows he’ll be back soon.
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BOMBERRY would leave Denver to visit his son on the weekends the year he was ruled academically ineligible. When Bomberry considered moving closer to his family — and to Jagger — in Canada, he listed Syracuse as a prime target, saying that it was the only place that could have taken him away from Denver. ally moreo photo editor
lacrosse guide 2017 5
EVAN MOLLOY comes from a family with a strong Syracuse lacrosse history. His grandfather was reponsible for bringing Jim Brown to Syracuse and his father held the record for most saves in program history. Before last year, the youngest Molloy hadn’t done much. Now, he has an opportunity for more. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
BRANCHING OUT Evan Molloy had been the paper champion in a family of Syracuse lacrosse royalty — until now
BETWEEN THE PIPES
see molloy page 6
Evan Molloy has gone from benchwarmer to co-captain in net for SU
felt certain on the eve of his fourth birthday that he’d look different in the morning. Somehow older. Sometime after midnight, the door to his mother Louise’s bedroom swung open. Her son padded into the room and crept up to a mirror on the wall. He studied the reflection intently. Then the youngest male in the Molloy line touched his face in surprise. Nothing had changed at all, and some things never would. A year later, Molloy’s father Jamie took him to his first lacrosse practice and put him at goalie. A ball hit the 5-year-old in the head, ricocheted into the air and hit him again on its descent. “Following in your dad’s footsteps?” asked a friend’s father, the first of many to ask. Molloy’s father holds the Syracuse program record for career saves. His grandfather Kenneth is responsible for getting NFL Hall of Famer and Syracuse hero Jim Brown to campus. Yet less than a year ago, Molloy’s contribution to the family legacy was 22 minutes played in three seasons. “I might’ve resented the shadow a little bit,” Molloy said. “Especially when (my dad) is all over the record books, and I’m the third-string goalie.” Not anymore. The career backup subbed in midway through last season for a struggling star transfer and finally shined himself. Molloy transformed into the fulcrum of a floundering Syracuse squad suddenly tipping the scores back into its
asst. sports editor
molloy goals against average
By Sam Fortier
6 lacrosse guide 2017
from page 5
molloy favor. In just over three weeks, a bench player became a conference tournament MVP. After last season’s meteoric rise, the redshirt senior is a locked-in starter and captain for the No. 6 Orange. Everywhere you look, there are reminders of Molloy family success. In SU’s locker room, nameplates hang above each locker listing past players who wore that number. Above No. 32, there’s Kenneth’s name. Uncle Ken (29) and his dad, Jamie (7), are there, too. Molloy will never reach the records and accolades as those family members. But now, Molloy has a final season to be everything he expects of himself. “You have to think you’re the best player on the field and no one’s going to score on you, whether it’s true or not,” Molloy said. “That’s who I am. That’s what this whole (Syracuse) thing was. I wasn’t playing and there was still the idea of being the next great Molloy.” In Molloy’s favorite story about his grandfather, the ranking naval officer asks the freshfaced recruit: Well, son, how many goals did you score on those bastards from Army? Somehow, the other aspiring midshipmen discovered that Kenneth arrived to boot camp in 1943 from Syracuse, where he was a two-time All-American attack on the lacrosse team. “Seven goals, sir,” Kenneth replied. The officer named Kenneth a PT boat captain on the spot. After Kenneth earned a Silver Star and returned home from World War II, he met a girl named Mary at Archbold Stadium during the 1946 homecoming football game. They soon married and moved to Manhasset
on Long Island. There, Kenneth heard about a 13-letter athlete at Manhasset Secondary School named Jimmy Brown. Ohio State had recruited him for football and the New York Yankees offered a minorleague contract. But Kenneth had another idea. He convinced Brown that Syracuse would soon be a power on par with Ohio State and fibbed he had the power to grant Brown a scholarship. Syracuse coaches had not scouted Brown and did not want black players on the team, according to Mike Freeman’s biography, “Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero.” But Kenneth bet they would offer a scholarship after seeing him play. Unbeknownst to Brown, Kenneth wrote Manhasset community leaders and raised tuition for Brown’s first two semesters.
Molloy had 27 saves across two games in the ACC tournament, which earned him tournament MVP honors Nineteen years later, Brown asked Kenneth to introduce him at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. When Brown occasionally visited Manhasset, he regularly stopped by and saw Kenneth’s growing family. The youngest son, Jamie, loved wearing his large, leather-armed Syracuse Varsity jacket and playing with the Onondaga Nation wooden lacrosse sticks in the
garage. The 6-year-old watched Floyd Little run all over Pittsburgh at Shea Stadium in 1965. Jamie never could replicate the bruising style, though. He stood 5-foot-7 and weighed 110 pounds in high school. For his own safety, Kenneth moved Jamie to lacrosse goalie. Colleges heavily recruited Jamie, but there was little doubt of where he’d land. He started all four years at Syracuse and still holds the program records for saves in a career with 766. Jamie played under Roy Simmons, Jr., who famously said to his freshman classes on their first day that they owed the program their first-born sons. But Jamie’s first son, also named Kenneth, never had an athletic career because he was born with clubfoot. Jamie threw his second son into the cage as early as he could. He taught his son to scoop, cradle, own the crease and, later, to let the upperclassmen pay for drinks at Harry’s Bar. He raised Molloy in a house never lacking sticks, in a town never absent of boys wanting to play lacrosse. He wanted to carry on the family tradition like his father had relished doing, but sometimes it felt too heavy. He switched to attack in ninth grade and set the school scoring record at small Berkshire (Massachusetts) School. “I wanted to step out of my dad’s shadow,” Molloy said. “It’s tough to be like, ‘A goalie, just like your dad.’” Molloy came home in 10th grade, transferring to Manhasset Secondary School and returning to goalie. He thought he was better there. Both Jamie and Louise still question if his future might’ve been brighter at attack. Molloy sat behind an All-American in his sophomore and junior season and, he said, became the No. 2 option for most schools in recruiting. Virginia seemed appealing and so did
Duke, but the top two goalie recruits were already committed there. He wanted to play, so he picked a school with a good track record for Molloys. But it didn’t work out that way. He redshirted and spent the following two years behind more established goalies like Bobby Wardwell and Dominic Lamolinara. In 2016, the position finally seemed his. Until Warren Hill, a world champion netminder, announced his transfer from Onondaga Community College to Syracuse. Hill won the job in the fall, cemented himself in the spring and melted away with the season. Syracuse limped to a 5-3 start before head coach John Desko made the switch. On April 6 at Hobart, Molloy made his first start and played more minutes in that game alone than in the three-plus prior years combined. SU won, 13-6. Shortly after 9 p.m., a plate of chicken wings arrived at the table inside the Sitrus on the Hill bar inside the Sheraton Hotel. Molloy had come straight from the team bus and the family talked more than they ate. Louise beamed at her son’s validation. Jamie delivered a scouting report on Cornell, the next opponent. In a way, the 23-year-old Molloy thought, his parents had finally seen returns on an 18-year investment. But he couldn’t feel settled as the starting goalie. Ten days after leaving the bench, Molloy held eventual-national champion North Carolina to seven goals. Thirteen days later, he did it again, en route to winning the ACC tournament MVP. He embraced it then. But even if none of that happened, that night at the Sheraton would’ve been enough. “Cementing the legacy of the Molloy family is something my dad accomplished way more than I did,” Molloy said. “But just to be a part of that is important. That’s where it comes full circle.” firstname.lastname@example.org | @Sam4TR
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MOLLOY was subbed in halfway through last season for Warren Hill and found success. He enters this year as the unquestioned starter. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
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Syracuse was 7-2 in Evan Molloy’s nine starts winning nearly 80 percent of those games. SU’s win percentages in games Warren Hill started was just 63 percent. win percentage
first two years
lacrosse guide 2017 7
NATE SOLOMON scored eight goals off the bench his freshman year and has yet to start a game for Syracuse. Now, the Georgia product who finished his high school career third all-time nationally in goals scored has slid into the team’s starting lineup on attack. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
MOVING T ON UP
By Matthew Gutierrez asst. sports editor
Nate Solomon is moving into Syracuse’s starting lineup while pioneering Georgia lacrosse
of Nate Solomon’s success was poured circa 2006, when Casey Powell took notice of the kid with a knack for putting the ball in the net. At a clinic run by Powell, SU’s fourtime All-American, Solomon’s nifty handle for the game stood out. He was 9 or 10. It’s not the only time Solomon has impressed. By now every lacrosse player from Georgia knows the legend of Nate Solomon. That he put up video game numbers — third all-time nationally in points, 623, and fourth all-time in assists, 297 — at Centennial High School. That he was the 2014 and 2015 state player of the year. That he was so fast, so elusive, so nimble around the goal, he often rendered double and triple teams pointless. Left as an afterthought for most top college programs, Solomon will slide into No. 6 Syracuse’s starting attack this year. He’s the first SU player to hail from Georgia and the pioneer for a crop of young talent from a state beginning to take stage in the national landscape. As he rose to stardom, Georgia high school lacrosse popped on the map. With everything going his way, Solomon’s goal hasn’t changed since he jotted a note to himself in kindergarten: earn All-American honors at Syracuse. He wants to carry the Orange in much the same way Powell did. “That was big,” Solomon said. “He really showed me the way.” The path Solomon forged began with a pair of fiddle sticks, makeshift lacrosse sticks he toyed with until he got physically big enough to buy a kid’s size at the store. His idea of a well-spent Saturday afternoon was peppering shots at his net, where he played in the Georgia heat until sunset. Solomon grew up in Alpharetta, Georgia, about 25 miles north of Atlanta. Throughout middle school, neighbors strolling by his front yard stopped when their eyes met his lacrosse net. “We got a lot of questions, like, ‘What the hell is that?’” Solomon’s father, Neal, said. When he reached first grade, Solomon began to watch SU games on TV. In high school, he studied Syracuse greats, including most recent star attacks Dylan Donahue and Kevin Rice. Solomon admired how they dodged, how they moved off ball and how they felt their defender’s stick. He began to fall in love with a sport where it was hardly recognizable. Rooted in Solomon’s background are direct ties to Syracuse that, over time, made a skinny kid from the South a natural fit for SU. His mother, Nanci, grew up in DeWitt and rode her bike to watch Syracuse lacrosse teams practice inside Manley Field House. His father, Neal, is from Manlius, and has worn Syracuse sweatshirts, shorts and T-shirts see solomon page 10
8 lacrosse guide 2017
BY THE NUMBERS
MARK DIXON ESPN LACROSSE ANALYST
JOHN DESKO SYRACUSE HEAD COACH
BEAT WRITER PREDICTIONS CHARLIE DISTURCO Regular-season record: 10-3 MVP: Nick Mariano X-Factor: Jordan Evans Despite losing two of its top four scorers from last season, Syracuse’s roster is filled with talent. Jordan Evans has the potential for a breakout year and could easily become the leader he was once expected to be. Nick Mariano already led the team in goals last season, and his move to attack will only bring an uptick in his all-around production. The key is to fill the hole Dylan Donahue left. That starts and ends with Evans and Mariano.
SAM FORTIER Regular-season record: 11-2 MVP: Ben Williams X-Factor: Jordan Evans One of Syracuse’s toughest challenges this season will be replacing “quarterback” Dylan Donahue, crucial for a unit as young as the Orange. Head coach John Desko has said he expects Evans to fill the role. The former No. 1 recruit’s career as No. 22 could end like that of JoJo Marasco, unspectacular until his senior season. SU needs his production and leadership if it is to make a serious run at ending a programrecord long title drought.
MATTHEW GUTIERREZ Regular-season record: 10-3 MVP: Ben Williams X-Factor: Team defense This is a young unit that uses 2017 as a springboard for the next two seasons. With only one returner at attack, an inexperienced defense and a handful of question marks, Syracuse falls short against the best teams — at Johns Hopkins, at Notre Dame and at North Carolina. The midfield is the team’s strength, and that will power SU to quality wins, but Syracuse’s longest-ever national title drought continues at least one more year.
623 25% quarterback
Of the returning players, Evans has scored a quarter of the team’s goals. He’s SU head coach John Desko’s “quarterback” this season.
Despite losing three of its top six scorers, Syracuse has five returning players who are looking to see an uptick in production 8
Syracuse will have to replace almost half of its offensive production that graduated after last season
EVERY YEAR YOU THINK IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD BUT YOU GET MIDWAY INTO THE SEASON AND YOU REALIZE EVERYONE ELSE HAS HAD A GRADUATION, TOO. THAT FIFTH YEAR (REDSHIRT) GIVES US SOME DEPTH AND PLASMA.
(NICK) MARIANO IS A MATCHUP NIGHTMARE IN A LOT OF WAYS. HE’S BIG, HE’S STRONG, HE’S FAST. QUICK, I SHOULD SAY. NOT NECESSARILY A BURNER, BUT HE’S QUICK.
THEY SAID IT
Nate Solomon was a prolific high school scorer and is third all-time in points scored in a high school career
12.7% role player
Jordan Evans scored 27 goals last season, accounting for 12.7 percent of the team’s offense
MEN’S DEPTH CHART
27 GOALS, 8 ASSISTS
8 GOALS, 2 ASSISTS
35 GOALS, 11 ASSISTS
29 GOALS, 24 ASSISTS
19 GOALS, 14 ASSISTS
8 GOALS, 6 ASSISTS
38 GROUNDBALLS, 14 CAUSED TURNOVERS
3 GROUNDBALLS, 2 CAUSED TURNOVERS
EVAN MOLLOY 7-2, 53.7 SAVE PERCENTAGE
lacrosse guide 2017 9
BY THE NUMBERS
where season ended
national quarterfinal 2008
big east tournament
Before Gary Gait’s 10th year at Syracuse, here’s a look back at how his previous teams have fared 2013
Syracuse needs to make up for more than half of its scoring from last season
Six of the 11 players who started for Syracuse during last year’s Final Four matchup against Maryland are no longer on the team, creating holes in the Orange’s starting lineup
donahue and levy combined goals
Riley Donahue and Nicole Levy combined for almost 100 goals last season, more than the rest of the returners combined
50 GOALS, 18 ASSISTS
4 POINTS, 17 GAMES
20 GOALS, 8 CAUSED TOs
11 POINTS, 8 GROUNDBALLS
11 POINTS, 11 GROUNDBALLS
NO. 8 INCOMING FRESHMAN
17 GROUNDBALLS, 9 CAUSED TOs
38 GROUNDBALLS, 18 CAUSED T0s
12 GROUNDBALLS, 2 CAUSED T0s
HALEY MCDONNELL KAELI O’CONNOR ALEXA RADZIEWICZ
ASA GOLDSTOCK NO. 3 INCOMING FRESHMAN
To make a deep tournament run, Syracuse won’t have the star-studded of years past. The number to know is 97 — the number goals scored by Kayla Treanor and Halle Majorana. Enter Taylor Gait. The redshirt junior scored 25 goals last year and will have to step up if the Orange wants to beat the best teams in 2017.
Regular-season record: 13-5 MVP: Nicole Levy X-Factor: Asa Goldstock
Regular-season record: 14-4 MVP: Nicole Levy X-Factor: Taylor Gait
rest of the returning players
WOMEN’S DEPTH CHART
BEAT WRITER PREDICTIONS NICK ALVAREZ
46 GOALS, 22 ASSISTS
IT’S GOING TO BE A WHOLE NEW GAME BECAUSE NOW WE HAVE THE SHOT CLOCK, SO IT’S LIKE I’M GOING THROUGH MY WHOLE FIRST YEAR AGAIN. NICOLE LEVY SYRACUSE ATTACK
WE ARE AS YOUNG AS WE’VE EVER BEEN AND THAT PART IS EXCITING BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE HAVE AND WHO’S GOING TO STEP UP. GARY GAIT SYRACUSE HEAD COACH
national national championship championship game game final four
THEY SAID IT
KATHY RUDKIN 16 GROUNDBALLS, 9 CAUSED TOs
The Orange is coming off a strong campaign in 2016 that ended with a Final Four appearance and All-American honors for Treanor and Majorana. But after losing both to graduation, the Orange will rely on Nicole Levy to carry the offense. With the loss of goalie Allie Murray, SU will focus its attention on freshman goalkeeper Asa Goldstock, who earned All-American honors as a high school senior. If Levy can balance the offensive focus and Goldstock can hold her own in the net, the Orange will have no problem taking another deep tournament run.
KACI WASILEWSKI Regular-season record: 14-4 MVP: Nicole Levy X-Factor: Emily Hawryschuk After a run to the Final Four last season, Syracuse lost many of its key players, including Treanor and Majorana. With the Orange’s top three scorers of 2016 gone, Levy needs to step up. Emily Hawryschuk can step up in Treanor’s spot and take draw controls. The No. 8 recruit in the country, Hawryschuk posted 95 draw controls in her senior year of high school.
10 lacrosse guide 2017
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from page 7
solomon since leaving the area. That exposed Solomon to SU. Powell was one of the first to introduce the sport to him. Hanging on a wall in Solomon’s home bedroom is a signed jersey of his. Former SU All-American Liam Banks coached Solomon for years at his LB3 lacrosse academy. Solomon also is the nephew of former Syracuse football coach Paul Pasqualoni. Solomon’s younger brother, Nick, committed to North Carolina before he stepped foot in high school. Nate Solomon didn’t get offers from top schools. Hailing from a place still untapped in the lacrosse world wouldn’t work at Division I powers, coaches told him. The four-year varsity starter and threetime high school All-American built on his 100-goal freshman season. Harvard, Dartmouth and Lehigh wanted him. He fell in love with the Big Green’s coaching stuff until he decommitted after a coaching change. One day as a junior, Solomon lit up a tournament in a Philadelphia suburb. When he saw SU assistant coach Kevin Donahue show up, Solomon put his head down. He mowed through the defense to score seven straight goals. Afterward, a coach asked him if he wanted to play at Syracuse. Incredulous, Solomon chuckled. “I’m serious — you need to call Syracuse right now,” the coach told him. Soon he committed to SU. Hidden beneath his facemask was an ear-to-ear smile that belied the get-at-the-goal mentality he still harnesses today. On the lacrosse field, Solomon plays bigger than his 5-foot-10, 178-pound frame. Getting overlooked by Northeast schools fuels him. Against North Carolina in last year’s ACC title game, Solomon scored a pair of goals to lead Syracuse to the win only 20 miles from
where he grew up. In rising to stardom, Solomon has set a new standard in Fulton County and beyond. He became the first player from Banks’ lacrosse academy to play Division I. (He wears No. 3 at SU, reminding him of Banks.) Eleven others have since pledged to DI programs. At his high school, there are now Maryland, UNC, Rutgers and Siena commits on the team. During his freshman year in 2012, there were 72 high school lacrosse teams statewide. Now there are 110.
Since Solomon’s freshman year in 2012, 38 high school lacrosse programs have been created in Georgia, bringing the statewide total to 110 teams “Some people say, ‘Who is this kid from the South?’” Bryan Wallace, his high school coach, said. “But he’s like our Tom Brady.” Solomon has zero starts on his resume, so 2017 is far from a make-or-break year. And yet there is a sense that this is the season for him to step forward. Georgia’s most enthralling prospect is ready to take off. The sophomore attack will start this season and should pose a dangerous threat to opponent defenses for an SU team amid its longestever title drought. “We’re going to need to lean on him throughout this season,” redshirt junior midfielder Matt Lane said. “He’ll be a great player here for years to come.” firstname.lastname@example.org | @MatthewGut21
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WITH CENTRAL NEW YORK
SOLOMON has cemented his legacy as one of the best Georgia high school lacrosse players, and is the first SU player from the state. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
lacrosse guide 2017 11
GAITKEEPER Taylor Gait is the last piece remaining from Syracuse’s greatest recruiting class
By Matt Liberman staff writer
TAYLOR GAIT is starting to feel as strong as she did before her injuries. Multiple knee surgeries prevented her from playing early in her career and have kept her at SU longer. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
walked off the field after a fourth straight NCAA tournament loss to Maryland, the last chance the No. 1 recruiting class had at capturing a national title. As she left the field, she knew she’d return to Syracuse. Gait still had two more years of eligibility because of medical redshirts. But that legendary recruiting class was finished. The 23-year-old redshirt junior enters 2017 with a spate of revenge. For two years, she watched as her teammates walked off the field in defeat. The next two, she joined them. Now in her fifth year at Syracuse, Gait is hungry to lead one of No. 6 Syracuse’s youngest teams to its first national title. “We’re hoping she’ll be the one that can give them some guidance,” said Gary Gait, Syracuse’s head coach and Taylor’s father. “ … She can’t go out and just be a part of it.” This season marks the first time since Gait’s junior year of high school that she has been healthy three straight years. Though she provided backto-back 20-goal seasons in her first two years, Gait feels she has reached her peak athletic ability. With seven knee surgeries in her rear view, she’s poised for a fresh start. “I don’t want to say I’m the fastest,” she said. “But I’m certainly up there.” She said she’s a “lone wolf” on the team. Despite the great friends and teammates, she is the oldest, the most experienced and the only player left from the top recruiting class that could never get over the hump. Once known for her seven knee surgeries, the small blonde girl with a big laugh is leading a hungry pack. Her knee injuries plagued her, but are the reason she still has two more seasons of eligibility. She first tore her left ACL and meniscus in her junior year of high school and had seven knee surgeries since. For three straight years, Gait did not play lacrosse. “Being injured and sitting out you have that self-doubt,” Gait said. “You have that voice in your head saying: ‘Are you going to be as good as you once were? Are you going to be able to cut and run? Are your stick stills going to be what they once were?’” During her true freshman and sophomore years, she watched from the sidelines as her father led the team to back-to-back Final Fours, including one national championship game appearance. Gait picked up nuances in the game that she had not seen before getting hurt. She saw breakdowns in plays, offensive schemes and had an overall different mindset of the game. After the injuries, doctors told Gait she may lose her speed and quickness on the field. But she said she hasn’t missed a beat. She doesn’t wear a brace on her knee because the first time she did, she tore her meniscus. She said she is in full health and can now “have four fresh years.” In the last two years, Gait scored 54 points on 47 goals and registered a 39.8 goal percentage on her shots. Her work in the midfield helped spur Syracuse to back-to-back Final Fours, where she was named on the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team in 2015. As the coach’s daughter, and the “grandmother” on the team, Gait serves much more than a leader. She is somewhat of a player-coach. As she has gotten older, players come to the team’s most tenured member for advice. Her father expects her to be the next go-to player on the team on a championship-caliber team. He said she has to bring her game to the next level. The team is going to need her improved stick skills if it returns to the Final Four this year. Losing the strongest class in program history, combined with introducing its youngest team, bodes for a learning curve. And the team must rely on its rising stars in order to return to that prestige. email@example.com
12 lacrosse guide 2017
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lacrosse guide 2017 13
Nicole Levy is becoming a dodger, again, after Kayla Treanor’s departure By Matt Feldman staff writer
before the start of her sophomore season at East Islip (New York) High School, Nicole Levy sat at the dinner table with her parents, discussing what her role was going to look like on the Redmen squad that upcoming year. Levy’s father, Steve — also her head coach at East Islip — told his family that Nicole was no longer going to be a scorer like she was growing up. Steve challenged his daughter to lead her team in assists, controlling possession and dodging by defenders to create chances for her teammates. Steve called her “a mini version of Kayla (Treanor).” “I knew that season that (dodging) was going to be her role,” Steve said. “Because we needed her to run the offense and be the quarterback.” Levy thrived at that position throughout high school, becoming the top-of-the-class dodger that No. 6 Syracuse’s head coach Gary Gait recruited two years ago. But Levy’s role changed in her first year with the Orange. Now, the sophomore attack finds herself yet again trying to become a dodger, and repeat for SU what she did in high school. For the Orange to replicate its prior postseason success, it’s crucial that Levy makes this adjustment. Coaches said she needs to transition from a shooter’s mentality to focus on her role as a creator at the head of SU’s attack. “Playing with a couple of All-Americans on the outside (last season), she utilized it and played that role perfectly,” Gait said of Levy. “She’ll be adapting to more of a playmaker and dodger this season.” Levy had always been the quarterback-type on offense, Steve said. She carried and dodged exceptionally well, efficiently distributing to her teammates. In her sophomore season at East Islip, Levy finished first in Suffolk County and second on Long Island in assists. She also finished first in Long Island in points, a further testament to her wellrounded game, Steve said.
PLAYING WITH A COUPLE OF ALLAMERICANS ON THE OUTSIDE (LAST SEASON), SHE UTILIZED IT AND PLAYED THAT ROLE PERFECTLY. SHE’LL BE ADAPTING TO MORE OF A PLAYMAKER AND DODGER THIS SEASON. GARY GAIT SYRACUSE HEAD COACH
But when Levy arrived at Syracuse last year, she found herself behind established stars Treanor and Halle Majorana. Levy again adjusted her role to better suit the Orange offense, becoming an outside shooter and sidelining her dodging game for an entire season. Her outside shot is something Steve said she’s always had in her arsenal, but a facet of her game that was never forced to show itself until last season. “I think it was easy for me last year to be that shooter, because of that attention that (Treanor) and (Majorana) drew down low,” Levy said. “I didn’t have to dodge very much.” Levy thrived with her spot-up offensive mindset. The freshman grabbed national attention by posting 46 goals on the season, scoring at least one in 20 of the Orange’s 25 games. As Steve put it, it was “a perfect storm.” Nicole stepped back and said, “You guys dodge, I’ll shoot.” But after Treanor and Majorana graduated last year, Gait and Levy both knew what was next for the now-sophomore attacker. With no more offensive motors to pull the defenders away, a bulk of the defensive attention will now be placed on Levy. The sophomore will no longer be left open on the outside
NICOLE LEVY was more of a ball distributor during high school before becoming a spot-up shooter in last year’s stacked offense. This year she’ll be a distributor again. jacob greenfeld asst. photo editor
to shoot. “Having a quick step and more confidence is the biggest thing right now,” Levy said. “I struggled this fall (getting back into dodging) a lot, but I’ve gotten better.” A few times in the offseason, Levy called Treanor, now an assistant coach at Harvard. She asked for advice and words of encouragement as she drifted into the offensive-leader role. Levy said that, combined with her work with Treanor last season, she has learned some tricks of drawing defenders and leading the offense. One such method is how Treanor drew a doublecoverage behind the net, then swung the ball to the middies who either found the open attack or ripped a shot themselves. If she can get herself doublecovered, Levy knows that someone on the field will be open, and she’s willing to sacrifice her goals if it means assists and goals for the team. “(Dodging) is about understanding where and when, and the right time,” Gait said. “With (Levy), the biggest thing has been the mental focus of being in the moment the entire time on offense.”
The offseason was filled with 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills for Levy, as the sophomore inched toward again becoming the dodger she was in high school. Levy has also been working with Majorana at practice, who stayed on the staff as a student assistant. It’s impossible to replace players like Treanor and Majorana, Steve said, but Levy has always had the ability to be an offensive distributor. Now, she needs to bring that ability to the forefront of her game. Just as it was in her high school tenure at East Islip, Levy said matter-of-factly that she won’t be the Orange’s leading goal scorer this season. Instead, she’s looking to play her new role, drawing defenders and finding open shooters around the net. She’s been working hard at improving her awareness and feeding and all other aspects of the position, Gait said, and now only time will tell if the sophomore is indeed prepared to lead the Orange offense. “She’s got to get back to being the aggressive dodger she was her whole career,” Steve said. “She’s still feeling it out, but I think she’ll be up for the task.” email@example.com
14 lacrosse guide 2017
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lacrosse guide 2017 15
HALLE MAJORANA was a prominent attack for SU last year. Now, as an assistant, she still enjoys hanging around the locker room with the team. ally moreo photo editor
ALLIE MURRAY came to SU as a graduate student to finish her career as a goalie last season. She prefers working in the office with other coaches. ally moreo photo editor
Halle Majorana and Allie Murray remain part of the team as assistant coaches By Josh Schafer staff writer
still spends her weekday afternoons at Ensley Athletic Center even though her final season playing for Syracuse ended almost a year ago. She still fires shots on cage but no longer shoots to score. One of the program’s top offensive weapons of the past now aims to improve her former teammates. “She’s been playing lacrosse since the third grade,” Tom Majorana, Halle’s father said. “To not be on the field is kind of difficult for her. So, to be involved on the coaching level is something that satisfies her competitive nature.” Both Majorana and former teammate Allie Murray are back on the coaching staff nearly a year after a heartbreaking, season-ending loss to Maryland on Final Four weekend. Majorana is an assistant coach and the goalkeeper Murray joins as a volunteer assistant. They combine to create, in head coach Gary Gait’s words, “The Halle-Allie Show.” The duo has returned to help the program finally accomplish that unreached goal. “I hate to fail,” Murray said. “Anytime if you don’t end on a win you want to try it again. (Winning) is a little addicting in that way.” Majorana remains relatable to many upperclassmen because she’s still an undergraduate student pursuing a child and family studies degree. The former captain also serves as a mentor to the underclassmen. But to some on the team, including redshirt junior Taylor Gait, she’s a roommate and a friend. Gait and Majorana entered college at the same time, but a variety of injuries have forced Gait into medical redshirts prolonging her career. “(We are) best friends,” Gait said. “She just makes
fun of me all the time and chirps.” Murray also lives with Gait and Majorana, but the situation for her is more businesslike. She has a job lined up as a nuclear engineer on a U.S. Navy submarine, Gary Gait said, once she finishes her graduate studies. Murray also spends more time in the office while Majorana prefers the locker room.
(GAIT) LETS YOU BE CREATIVE AND ADD YOUR OWN LITTLE STYLE TO THE WAY YOU PLAY. THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO HELP THESE GIRLS REALIZE, IS TO BE CREATIVE AND NOT BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES. ALLIE MURRAY VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT COACH
Unlike Majorana, Murray doesn’t spend time with anyone her own age at practice. Murray specializes with the goalie group of which the oldest still falls three classes below her. But Murray started all but one game last season for the Orange, and now finds herself grooming her own replacement. Murray played an unconventional style of goalie, often rushing attackers and leaving the net unguarded, but she doesn’t plan to force that style on her current players. Each goalie has her own style, she said, and that’s something the player decides, not the coach. “It’s been cool to watch each goalie play super
well,” Murray said. “… To not be on the field myself but just watch them has been pretty rewarding.” Unlike in their playing days, the assistants now spend a considerable amount of time in the coach’s office. There, they understand the inner workings of what made their teams so successful. Seeing the game from a coach’s perspective has taught both former players more about the game than they expected. “You notice a lot of things you wouldn’t while playing,” Majorana said. “For instance, some turnovers you make in a game you notice you wouldn’t make so much now. … It slows down the game instead of just being in the moment and playing.” Majorana herself knows a multitude of ways to skirt past a defender. She scored 100 goals in two All-American seasons with the Orange. But unlike a split-dodge or a spin move, her ability to create on the fly remains easier to do than to teach. “(Gait) lets you be creative and add your own little style to the way you play,” Murray said. “That’s what I’m trying to help these girls realize, is to be creative and not be afraid to make mistakes.” The rewards of coaching for Majorana are simple. A smile on players’ faces after achieving something they worked toward tells her she did her job. When Majorana and Murray both transferred to Syracuse, their additions each complemented already stacked rosters seemingly poised to win the program’s first national championship. While they arrived at Syracuse in different ways, their careers ended the same. A way they hope to help their former teammates avoid repeating. The roles are different, but the goal is the same. “Part of me hasn’t finished yet,” Majorana said. “We didn’t get the chance to win the national championship. But any way I can help this team achieve their goals … I’m willing to do whatever.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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