NCAA Quarterfinal vs Denver Preview (5/19/24, Noon) |

NCAA Quarterfinal vs Denver Preview (5/19/24, Noon)


Renowned lacrosse analyst
Jul 16, 2014
The Syracuse Orange face off against the Denver Pioneers for a spot in the Final Four. Doesn't get much bigger than this folks.

Denver brings in a very veteran team. I believe they have seven fifth year seniors who see significant time for them, including their leading scorer, their main FOGO, starting LSM and two starting defensemen. Their second leading scorer and starting goalie are regular seniors. They have a ton of experience. Denver is known for their defense this year, and they have some big boys on that side of the ball. The three veteran poles referenced earlier are all over 6' and 200 pounds. On top of that, their FOGO might be the biggest in the country, as Alec Stathkis is 5'11, 220. That said, they do have some holes in their defense, as Malcom Kleban is saving just over 50% on the year. He hasn't made more than 14 saves in a game, and that happened twice all the way back in February.

Denver is a team that likes to slow things down, and they have a FOGO that can tilt the field. Not only is Stathkis big, but he's very good. He has winning percentage of 60%, and has only lost the face-off battle twice this year, both to two very good FOGOs (Weitfeld from Michigan and Rodriguez from Yale). He's taken all but 15 draws for the Pios this year. SU will have to have one of their two-headed monsters slow down bruiser from Culver.

The Denver offense is a little less scary, though they can put up points. They put up 17 vs Cornell, 16 vs Utah and 13 vs Hopkins in the first game of the season, and of course 16 vs Michigan last week in the opening round of the NCAAs. That said, they are prone to putting up some stinkers, just seven vs Providence, nine twice against Villanova, seven vs Duke. They are led by JJ Silstrop, who has 44 points on the year. Denver has six other players with 20 or more points. But this isn't a group that has put up video game numbers on the year. Part of this is due to their slow down style, but they also don't have an electric dodger, in the manner of some other top teams SU has played. Perhaps closest to that is Cody Malawksy, who has 29 points on the year - he has scored a number of highlight reel goals. But compared to the other teams that SU has played, their is no one on Denver that rivals a Shellenberger or an O'Neil. The SU defense needs to focus on not ball watching and winning their matchups.

Like Towson last week, Denver is a difficult team to evaluate. I think there is a reason that many teams wanted to be in their "quad" of the bracket. They've beaten some good teams this year no doubt, but the Hopkins win was a long time ago, and well, a bit fluky. They did beat Cornell by one, but if you ask the Big Red fans, it sounds like their were some questionable calls that led to the Denver victory (ironic coming from Cornell fans!) The Michigan rout was obviously a big win, and reason A why Denver is in the position they are in. But of course that's coming off a loss to Villanova in the Big East Tournament. Overall, Denver to me is a very inconsistent team - but one that is still dangerous. Syracuse needs to prepare for a stout defense and a very good face-off unit, they need to take care of the ball and limit silly turnovers.

For Syracuse? I think a lot comes down to Will Mark. I don't think we should expect the face-off unit to dominate again like they did against Towson. Mark will have to be on his game from the get go. The offense also needs to take care of the ball and be smart about their shots. Will Michael Leo start at attack or will they take the wait and see approach with Christian Mule? I think the Orange can win this game, but they have to be very careful.

The stakes for this game are obvious. Go Orange!
Let's hope Will Mark saved his best for the final most important games. We all know he has the talent and it's just mental right now. That is why I didn't like the benching vs Duke. He has struggled before and pulls himself out of it. Was no reason to mess with his head in a game that didn't really matter much especially before the tournament. It happened tho so now I think he was better in the 2nd half last game so the key is he needs to get a quick save or two early in the game to gain his confidence. Like Powelfan said we're not gonna dominate face offs this game so goaltending is gonna be sooo important. If he's hot SU can win by 5 or 6 I think. If not it's gonna be a close battle til the end. I wouldn't mess around I would start Leo at attack too. Have to put the best offense out there in the most important game of the season. Most important game in many yrs. Mule is a good player but in this offense Leo with his speed and dodging just opens up the offense. Give Hiltzee open shots he's gonna bury them 90% of the time. Hes the key to the offense when he goes the offense goes. Just my opinion why mess around put the best possible offense out there from the 1st face off and try and dominate.
In case anyone is interested, these are the current betting lines on DraftKings to win the Championship:

Notre Dame -130
Duke +350
Syracuse +600
Virginia +750
Johns Hopkins +1600
Maryland +3000
Georgetown +3000
Denver +4000
TLN @Lacrosse Network's
The Lacrosse Newsletter -- NCAA Final Score Predictions

Syracuse vs. Denver

When: Sunday, 12 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPNU
Denver doesn’t have half the star-power as Syracuse on its roster, but first-year head coach Matt Brown has the Pioneers playing well as a team. Syracuse sophomore Joey Spallina will be under a ton of pressure in this game. Denver’s defensive game plan will be designed to bottle him up. The Pios can grind out a victory here, if they are able to neutralize Spallina and keep this game from turning into a shootout.​
Prediction: Denver 11, Syracuse 10​

Best case scenario this weekend: 'Cuse cruises to victory. UVA, Duke, and ND all lose. We "carry" the ACC and face G'town and (assuming we beat G'town) the winner of MD/Hop.
Worst case scenario: 'Cuse loses and the other three ACC teams win.
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Can't wait for this. It's been years since I've been able to flaunt SU around Denver in a head to head matchup with a college out here. LET'S GO ORANGE!!

edit; and thanks for the summary's of the matchup, helps me a lot, as I'm not the most knowledgable lax guy, but it sure is fun when SU is in the tourney

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