SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS)– A strong defensive effort lifted the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team (1-0) to a season-opening victory in the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday. The Orange defeated Vermont (0-1), 7-5 to start the 2023 campaign.
The five goals surrendered were the fewest that Syracuse has allowed since the 2022 season opener, and increased the team’s win streak to 67-straight games when holding its opponent to single digits.
Goaltender Will Mark headlined the defensive effort, making 13 saves in his ‘Cuse debut. Saam Olexo (4), Landon Clary (3) and Caden Kol caused multiple turnovers to aid in the performance as well.
Offensively, six different players accounted for the seven Orange goals, with eight players registering a point. Jackson Birtwistle was the lone multi-goal scorer, while freshman Finn Thompson led the way with three points (1-2).
Thompson, fellow rookie Joey Spallina, and transfer graduate transfer Alex Simmons all notched their first goals in Orange uniforms, with the tallies being the first of their collegiate careers for the two freshmen. Owen Hiltz and Olexo accounted for the other two tallies.
The game was split nearly evenly at the faceoff X, as Johnny Richiusa won 7-of-16 restarts vs. the Catamounts’ Tommy Burke – a strong showing for Richiusa in his SU debut after Burke was named an Honorable Mention All-American a year ago on all three of the major lacrosse All-America teams.
It was a back-and-forth first quarter, despite a 1-0 scoreline as Vermont took the lead on Marsilio’s goal with 5:53 to play.
Mark made three saves in the first 15 minutes, including the 500th of his career on the first Catamount shot on goal of the game.
After being shut out in the opening quarter, the ‘Cuse offense came alive in the second, ripping off three unanswered goals from Olexo, Birtwistle on the man-up from Simmons. Thomson completed the small run with his first career goal. All three scored in the first half of the quarter.
Four minutes later, Simmons got his first goal as an Orange, back cutting his defender and finishing a behind-the-back feed from Thomson for a 4-1 ‘Cuse lead at the break.
Vermont scored two goals in the first half of the third quarter, cutting the Orange lead to one. Hunter scored his second straight to tie the game at 4-4 with 5:43 to play in the quarter.
The Catamounts regained a one-goal lead one minute later on a goal from Brock Haley. The Orange weathered a three-minute Catamount possession before forcing a shot clock violation.
The much-anticipated goal for freshman Spallina came late in the third, tying things up at 5-5 as he took his defender from X to score a low-angle shot.
Early in the fourth, Birtwistle tacked on his second of the day, regaining the Orange lead at 6-5.
Both back from the IR in 2022, Hiltz and Griffin Cook connected for a 7-5 Orange lead early in the fourth quarter.
Mark and the defense withstood a late Catamounts push to keep them off the scoreboard and give the final result
Syracuse hosts UAlbany on Friday at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at Cuse.com/Tickets