For about five minutes last week, my 2013 Syracuse team preview was relevant. Seriously, five minutes. The preview went up, word broke that Nicky Galasso was going to miss the entire season with a broken foot, and just like that, a chunk of what you read was already meaningless.
We can’t leave the preview incomplete like that, which means it’s once again time to ask the question we’ve been asking since May, minus about a month or so: what’s the Syracuse attack going to look like in 2013? Who’s going to step up to replace Tim Desko, Tommy Palasek and their combined 87 points of offense? To find the new answer, let’s read way more into some preseason scrimmages than anybody really should, and check out the options, in order of likelihood:
Option 1: Derek Maltz and Two More
Technically there are two spots to fill, but the safest assumption is that Billy Ward has already locked down a spot. The junior has appeared in a total of 21 games, and tallied nine points (2g, 7a) last season, four of them coming in the Big East tournament. Ward led the team with three points (2g, 1a) in Saturday’s scrimmage against Ohio State, and had a hat trick against Holy Cross the week before.
Sophomore Kevin Rice (1g, 2a last season) is most likely grabbing the third spot. He only played in six games last season, but started at attack this fall with Maltz and Ward. Judging by his scrimmage stats, Rice could become the feeder of the group; he had two assists against Hofstra, two against Holy Cross, and five against Robert Morris.
Ward and Rice were the only Syracuse players who put up multiple points in their scrimmage against Ohio State, which should help lock down their roster spots, but don’t be surprised if we see Dylan Donahue or Pat Powderly at times as well.
The redshirt freshman Donahue has improved his production throughout the preseason, scoring one goal against Hofstra, two against Holy Cross and four (plus one assist) against Robert Morris on Saturday.
Junior Pat Powderly has only appeared in ten games during his career and tossed in a total of two points, but he’s gone off this preseason: scoring four goals and four assists during the Hofstra/Holy Cross scrimmages, and another goal and four assists against Robert Morris.
Since they were scrimmages, of course, we don’t know:
- How they react under the pressure of games that actually count; and
- The level of competition they were facing at the time (were they matched up against starters, for example).
But either way, those numbers deserve a look in an offense that’s got some holes to fill.
Option 2: 4 Attack, 2 Middies
I’ve said it once before, but it bears repeating: we may see this set up much more in the upcoming season, especially if the pure middies aren’t generating offense by dodging from up top. Ward and Rice both saw time as inverting midfielders last year, and having four attackmen on the field could be a great way for guys like Donahue and Powderly to see playing time, especially if they’re playing against a team with questionable short stick defensive middies.
Of course there’s a flip side to this coin – you send four attackmen out, and the defense might respond (and they did last year) by assigning a short stick to Maltz and using his old defenseman to cover the fourth attackman. Then Maltz will have to come off the crease to initiate the dodge and – you know what? we’ve officially gotten way too far ahead of ourselves. Long story short, look for that fourth attackman to join the fray, at least from time to time.
Option 3: Jojo Marasco?
Then of course there’s Jojo Marasco. At last month’s media day, coach John Desko heard this question for the millionth time: is it time for attackman turned midfielder Marasco to turn back around to attackman? He’s previously stated that he’s comfortable dodging and feeding from behind the goal, and besides, if your top feeder’s posting up at x and being covered by a pole on a regular basis, he’s pretty much an attackman at that point anyway, right?
Makes sense, but Desko seems more inclined to keep him at midfield, and invert him more than last year (he dodged from x several times during the Hofstra and Holy Cross scrimmages, handing out five assists in the process). It wouldn’t surprise me to see him at attack once in a while, but probably more in a desperate situation where they couldn’t afford to have him leave the field.
It’s going to be a new-look Syracuse attack in 2013, and Nicky Galasso’s injury left us with a few more questions than we expected. Are Rice and Ward ready to replace Desko and Palasek? Has another player earned serious playing time under the radar? Whatever happens, we’ll find out soon; Syracuse begins their season February 17th against Albany in the Carrier Dome.