NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 7 Syracuse (Men)


Dordevic missed the 2019 season with a foot injury but is expected to lead the Cuse offense in 2020.

US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Dec. 17. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on through the end of the month and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition in February.

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No. 7 Syracuse

2019 Record: 9-5 (2-2, Atlantic Coast Conference)
Coach: John Desko (22nd year)
Assistants: Lelan Rogers, Pat March, Kevin Donahue
All-Time Record: 903-347-16
NCAA Appearances: 39
Final Fours: 27
Championships: 11

2020 Schedule



Feb. 7 Colgate
Feb. 15 Binghamton
Feb. 23 Army West Point
Feb. 28 Hobart
March 7 @ Johns Hopkins
March 14 @ Rutgers
March 21 @ Duke
March 28 Notre Dame*
April 3 @ Albany
April 7 @ Cornell
April 11 North Carolina*
April 18 @ Virginia

* = home game played at Cicero-North Syracuse High School

Save the Date
April 18

Last season, the Orange held their own against Virginia behind a breakout three-goal performance from then-sophomore midfielder Jacob Buttermore. But a five-goal fourth quarter and a game-winner from UVA’s Mikey Herring ended Syracuse’s hopes from pulling off the upset against the eventual NCAA champion. SU’s final regular-season game could be a statement game to improve its postseason position against a UVA team that’s expected to be one of the top teams in the nation again. Or at the very least, a win could help the Orange secure an NCAA tournament berth if they’re on the bubble again.

Return of Dordevic, Addition of Scanlan Have Orange Eyeing Deeper Run

For two straight years, the Orange have left the NCAA tournament in the first round. A blown four-goal lead to Loyola last season marked the sixth consecutive season Syracuse hasn’t made it to championship weekend.

It’s unlike one of the most decorated programs in college lacrosse to be in this long of a rut.

“I'm hoping that our experience is going pay off, and we'll be able to get further,” Orange coach John Desko said. “First of all, you've got to make it there, right?”

That’s been one of the problems. Syracuse’s NCAA tournament fate has been in question until the final pair of games in each of the last two seasons. A season-opening loss last year to an eventual 4-9 Colgate squad set the tone for an Orange team that would fall out of the postseason early again.

Desko knows it’s not up to standard. There were collapses in 2019,  like the overtime loss to Virginia in the Carrier Dome. But the successes, like Nick Mellen keeping Cornell’s Jeff Teat scoreless, keep the 22-year head coach hopeful.

This iteration of Syracuse’s squad has two more weapons, however.

Tucker Dordevic, the freshman who ran up and down the Carrier Dome sidelines after scoring two of the Orange’s first three goals in its lone 2018 NCAA tournament game, returns after missing last season with a foot injury. In preseason scrimmages, he was the focal point of SU’s offense.

And months helping Loyola defeat Syracuse in the NCAA tournament’s first round, second team All-American Chase Scanlan returns to the school he originally committed to with a new position and outlook.

“We missed [Dordevic] last year. He's one of our bigger threats, so it's good to have him back,” Desko said. “And with the addition of Scanlan, the guys have to get used to playing with him.”

Mellen, also a second-team All-American in 2019, returns as the Orange’s best line of defense against each opponent’s top attackman.

Syracuse returns seven of 11 starters, including goaltender Drake Porter, who will be the Orange’s first goalie to start in consecutive seasons in four years.

If Syracuse pushes past its struggles of the last two seasons and lives up to a No. 7 preseason ranking, it still will have one issue in its way. The Carrier Dome will undergo renovations starting in March, meaning at least two regular-season home games will be played at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

Last season, the Orange played one game at the high school, upsetting then-No. 3 Duke, 15-14, on a game-winner by Brendan Curry.

“I've talked to a number of people who went to the game just because the game was outside,” Desko said. “They had never seen Syracuse lacrosse outside.”

If the Orange were able to host an NCAA tournament game, the Carrier Dome still might be unavailable. But as Desko says, that is if they make it there.

Projected Starters

A — Chase Scanlan — So. — 43 G, 23 GB (at Loyola)
A — Stephen Rehfuss — RSr. — 18 G, 21 A
A — Owen Seebold — Jr. — 22 GP, 7 SH
M — Tucker Dordevic — RSo. — 15 G, 5 A, 57 SH (2018)
M — Brendan Curry — Jr. — 33 PTS, 18 GB
M — Jamie Trimboli — Sr. — 24 G, 99 SH
FO — Jakob Phaup — Jr. — 60.6 FO%, 63 GB
LSM — Jared Fernandez — Jr. — 36 GB, 10 CT
SSDM — Peter Dearth — Sr. — 29 GB, 15 CT
D — Nick Mellen — RSr. — 19 CT, 31 GB
D — Brett Kennedy — R.Jr. — 44 GB, 12 CT
D — Grant Murphy — Jr. — 1 GS, 5 GB
G — Drake Porter — Jr. — 56.2 SV%, 10.35 GAA

Tewaaraton Watch
Chase Scanlan, A, So.

Scanlan was named a second-team All-American last season as a freshman and was the nation’s top-scoring midfielder (43 goals). Desko spent fall ball shuffling the sophomore between midfield and attack, but he plans to move Scanlan to attack to start the season.  “We watched him at the end of the year at Loyola and there was a reason they were doing it,” Desko said of Scanlan playing midfield, “so we wanted to experiment. It’s a little too early to tell.” With the addition of Pat March to his staff, Desko expects Scanlan to run SU’s offense through the two-man game, similar to how Scanlan starred in tandem with Pat Spencer at Loyola last year. With the possibility of more scoring production coming out of Scanlan in 2020, he could contend as one of the nation’s top players a season after being one of the best midfielders in college lacrosse.

X Factor
Jacob Buttermore, M, Jr.

Last season, Buttermore was one of Desko’s first players off the bench. He’s not expected to start right away with Tucker Dordevic returning from injury alongside established starters Brendan Curry and Jamie Trimboli. But the junior will play a crucial role as a middie invert. Buttermore ended the season scoring a goal in Syracuse’s last six games, including hat tricks against Hobart and North Carolina. His 20 goals ranked fourth on the team.

National Rankings




Offense 15th 12.86 GPG
Defense 15th 10.14 GAA
Faceoffs 23rd 56.6%
Ground Balls 7th 36.71/game
Caused TO 4th 14.14/game
Shooting 27th 29.4%
Man-Up 3rd 48.0%
Man-Down 24th 69.0%


Combined goals scored by Bradley Voigt (35) and Nate Solomon (26), both of whom graduated. It marks the first time in 17 years that Syracuse has lost its top two goal scorers in the same class. The Orange will look for more scoring from the midfield. Dordevic and Scanlan will become the featured players in an evolving offensive system.

Enemy Lines

“Syracuse could have one of the best midfields in the country, especially with the return of Tucker Dordevic. Add transfer and the new No. 22 Chase Scanlan, and this could be a very tough offense to stop.”

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