October 24, 2011

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Fall Ball Brief

Syracuse Finishes Fall Strong With High-Flying Offense

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

Michelle Tumolo is poised for another big season, coming off a sophomore season in which she led the Orange with 66 points.

© Bryce Vickmark

Fall ball can be a drain. There's only so many weekends before winter and teams tend to pack their schedules with games, hoping to work out kinks before the games really count.

Take the case of Syracuse. In their final Saturday of fall ball the Orange played four games at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Then they piled into the bus and made the four and a half hour drive to Long Island, only to wake up Sunday morning for two more games at Manhasset High School.

The Orange didn't look too tired, defeating Stony Brook, 13-4, and Fairfield, 9-5, in their fall finales Sunday.

"It was good," Syracuse coach Gary Gait said of the fall slate. "We got lots accomplished, certainly got a lot of players experience."

Last season, Syracuse went 7-1 in the Big East and earned a share of the conference regular season title. The young team could be even better this year.

Fall Ball Priority: Sort it out. With just seven seniors, youth is once again a theme for the Orange.

"We're just looking to give everyone a shot," said Gait, who laughed when asked if he knew what the starting lineup would look like in the spring. "The good thing is we have some tough choices."

Know This Name: Kailah Kempney. Kempney was an All-American who recorded 118 goals and 27 assists as senior at Carthage High School in New York. The highly-touted recruit has been scoring in bunches this fall and will have an immediate impact.

"She's gonna score a ton of goals," Gait said.

Winning All Ways: Syracuse showed a great ability to adapt on Sunday. Surely tired from four games and a long trip the day before, the Orange came out and won a track meet against Stony Brook's high-flying offense. In the second game, Fairfield slowed things down and used an extra defender in the box to keep the game close early, but Syracuse adjusted and controlled the second half.

"We were patient," Gait said.

Tumolo Primed for Another Big Year: If Syracuse is to repeat its success in the Big East this season, junior attack Michelle Tumolo will play a big part. The first-team all-Big East player led the team with 66 points (33 goals and 33 assists) last season. Her balanced results are emblematic of this Syracuse squad. Last season, the Orange were Division I's 31st-ranked offense and 30th-ranked defense.

Big East Swan Song: Syracuse has two more years in the Big East before shifting all of its sports over to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Gait said it shouldn't be too big of a change on the lacrosse side, since the Orange typically plays non-league games against the conference. Last season, Syracuse played and lost to Virginia and Maryland. Three of last season's Final Four teams came out of the ACC.

"I look at it as a positive," Gait said. "It's a win-win across the athletic department."

Verdict: Last year, the Orange lost just once in the Big East regular season and then lost by one goal to Loyola in the Big East semifinals. Loyola went on to win its first round NCAA tournament game. Taking into account the influx of young talent to a team that already had success last season, Syracuse's final two Big East seasons should be successful ones.

"We're still young," Gait said. "We'll improve."


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