By Joel Godett
At this time last year, Tim Desko was fielding questions about what it’s like playing college lacrosse for his father, Orange coach John Desko. One year later, Tim Desko was fielding questions about what it’s like to score a quarter of his team’s goals in a three-way scrimmage with Hofstra and DII runner-up Le Moyne. Syracuse won both its scrimmages by 13-6 scores.
“It feels great,” Tim Desko said. “After redshirting last year, watching, getting to know the offense, watching everyone else play, it feels nice to be out here finally.”
Desko scored seven of SU’s 26 goals Thursday, including one lying chest down on the Carrier Dome turf. That one could fall into the accident column.
“I just felt [the ball] in my stick, and I was like ‘Oh, I still have it,’” Desko said. “I just shot it. I didn’t even see where it went.”
Desko’s high scoring tally was tied by teammate Kenny Nims. Each finished with nine points in an offense that seemed to run through the midfield, as opposed to last season when Tewaarton winner Mike Leveille often fired up the offense from behind the cage.
“We let our middies start a lot of our offense today,” Nims said. “That’s how things usually go. You start with the middies, and as the game progresses, you get the attack involved more. We did a nice job today spreading the ball around and waiting for our opportunities.”
The Orange had nine midfield assists between both its scrimmages. Senior Dan Hardy racked up five helpers in addition to a goal.
As for personnel questions, Syracuse started Kenny Nims, Stephen Keogh, and Chris Daniello on attack, Dan Hardy, Josh Amidon, and Scott Kahoe on its first offensive midfield run, and Sid Smith, John Lade, and Matt Tierney at close defense. Sophomore John Galloway returned to the starting goalie spot he earned last year. Sophomore Joel White was back at the pole, although freshman Joe Moore saw significant time as well. White was happy with how the defense came together as a whole, especially trying to replace two senior captains in Evan Brady and Kyle Guadagnolo.
“John’s a great player,” White said of Villanova transfer Lade. “He’s a kid who works hard. He doesn’t look like a big kid, but he plays position defense. He’s not a guy that you’re going to see throw a crazy check, but he plays position defense, and he doesn’t get beat.”
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Coach Desko said of a defense that allowed Hofstra several shooting lanes early. The Pride scored three of its six goals in the first period. “There wasn’t great communication, so we were a little slow to help out at times, so I thought the other team got some good shots.”
Desko was happy at the amount of guys he tried out on defense and the way they came together as the scrimmages went along. The Orange also gave Tom Guadagnolo, Brandon Conlin, and others time guarding opposing attackmen.
Another defensive move put Joel White on the man-down unit. White said it was an adjustment, but that assistant Kevin Donohue was in his ear throughout the game. Desko said having the pole on the man down is a benefit because of White’s quickness, ability to knock down passes, and clearing skill. White’s presence helps prevent double teams on Matt Abbott when moving to the offensive side.
The big question for Syracuse still goes unanswered, however. There is still no solution to Danny Brennan’s absence at the faceoff X. Anybody from Tim Desko, Tim Harder, Josh Knight, Jake Moulton, and 6-foot-5-inch Scott Kahoe took faceoffs. Moulton started the game, giving up a fast break from the get-go and then getting beat defensively for Hofstra’s opening score. The draws did improve as the afternoon progressed.
“They’re pretty talented on the wing,” Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said. “If they do tie it up they’ve got some athletes coming in, so the success rate’s going down unless you can get it out quickly, and get it to yourself.”
“The first couple popped out the front and we got beat,” White said. “That was tough for us, but once we figure that out, we’re going to be fine.”
White will reprise his role as a wing with Abbott this season.
“I think we’ve been doing faceoffs in half field situations,” Desko said. “We knew it was going to be a battle this year, and we need someone to rise up and take control of it. We made some mistakes, and they got some fast breaks off of it, but I think that comes with practice and being in a full field situation will help us.”
White said the faceoffs will also improve as he and Abbott get more comfortable with different tendencies of their teammates. White said a lot of the Orange success last year came from having a certain comfort level with what Brennan was going to do.
SU started its scrimmage with Le Moyne three-for-three on the Extra-Man Offense. Desko attributed the success to having so much practice time in half-field sets as well as SU’s amount of good shooters...Junior Cody Jamieson did not dress for the game, he has still yet to be fully cleared by the NCAA…Senior Pat Perritt did not play. He’s still sidelined with an injury…Syracuse transfer Jack Harmatuk scored three goals for Le Moyne, including one wrap around shot over his shoulder against Hofstra.
HOFSTRA’S FIRST TIME OUT
It was a winless day for the Pride in the Dome, but a trip coach Seth Tierney was more than happy he took.
“We knew we were going to have some bumps in the road, and we did,” Tierney said. “There’s no getting around it, and it’s what we do from here. We’ve got two great films to work with.”
Those you expected to step to the forefront did in a 6-6 tie against Le Moyne and that 13-6 loss to Syracuse. Tom Dooley totaled a hat trick for the day while Colonial Athletic Association Rookie-of-the-Year Jay Card had two goals and two assists. Danny Orlando stood out in the SU scrimmage, allowing eight goals, but making a few beautiful saves, including a one-on-one doorstep shot from Stephen Keogh and a top-of-the-box rocket from Dan Hardy.
In front of Orlando it was trial and error, getting everybody in on defense (as was the case on offense as well – a goal Tierney set for the day). That meshing included the infusion of NYIT transfer Christian Scuderi and junior Adam Swarson, back from injury.
“We’re going to be okay defensively – we’ve just got to find the right combinations, and the guys that are willing to step up,” Tierney said. “We just don’t want to stay complacent right now….[Scuderi’s] learning every day that there is a different level. He has a presence out there, and after a while he got really comfortable, and he did a good job on his man. He just has to work on some of the other facets of the game to be an all around defensemen.” Something else to chew on is the fact that Hofstra’s been together on the field for just seven days.
“No wows, but no crazy lulls either,” Tierney said of his team’s double scrimmage. “One think I don’t want to coach is effort, and the guys gave some effort today. We’re going to be tired, it’s going to be a long ride home.”
Hofstra still has two more scrimmages left with Binghamton and Rutgers next week.