One more run for the "Orange Fox."
Eds. Note: This essay is the second in a five-part series examining the 2007 edition of the Syracuse Orange. An index of previous and subsequent installments can be found here.
Bold: 2007 Projected starter
*: Preseason Inside Lacrosse All-America
|2007 Syracuse Orange Midfield|
|Returning Players||D. Biegel||Sr.|
|S. Van Schaack||So.|
|Incoming Players||M. Bartig||Fr.|
Syracuse's defense has dominated much of the early season headlines, but the true depth and talent on the Orange roster likely lies in its midfield unit. Dotted with three preseason Inside Lacrosse All-Americans, Syracuse's offensive guru Kevin Donahue has at his disposal a myriad of offensive options in 2007.
Unfortunately, little information has emanated from the Lampe Athletic Complex regarding Syracuse's midfield line composition for 2007. Given last season's performances, however, the following represents a reasonable estimation of how the Orange will look at the midfield this year:
|2007 Syracuse Orange Midfield Lines|
|First Line||G. Rommel||Grad.|
|Second Line||M. Abbott||So.|
|Third Line||B. Loftus||Jr.|
Recruiting is clearly the lifeblood of any good lacrosse program. In Syracuse's case, however, Greg Rommel's return from season-ending injury may be the most important addition to the Orange roster in 2007.
As Syracuse defenseman Dustin Palmer notes, Rommel's absence from the field in 2006 not only effected the Orange's offensive efficiency, but his return has buoyed Syracuse's opportunities for success in 2007:
[Rommel's injury] was a huge loss. When you lose someone like that, it’s a focal point of opposing defenses and a midfielder of that caliber you don’t see very often.Mike Leveille, Syracuse's All-World attackman, echoed Palmer's sentiments:
* * * * *
He’s a guy who has been there for four, five years. He’s got tons of experience. He’s veteran on the field. He takes us through practice and he helps us out as much as he can. It’s a huge help having someone like that back.
Greg would have been a big loss for us if he hadn’t come back, with his leadership and him being familiar with everything here.Rommel has all the tools to take Syracuse to great heights in 2007. Armed with a potent shot, an innate ability to dodge from both behind the crease and from the top of the offensive box, and a nose for delivering laser-sharp passes, Rommel is the total offensive package. He is a legitimate Tewaaraton Trophy candidate and will ultimately make the players around him better.
He is the "Orange Fox;" a field marshal with all the tools necessary to direct an offensive attack indicative of his tank-wielding namesake.
Not to be lost amongst all the excitement surrounding Rommel's return is the return of his linemates -- Steven Brooks and Pat Perritt. Like Rommel, Brooks sat out last season due to injury. His quickness and nose for finishing plays (Brooks finished fourth on the team in scoring in 2005) will provide instant matchup problems for opponents.
In short, if Brooks can consistently beat the short-stick midfielders marking him, stopping the Syracuse offense may prove to be impossible.
Perritt -- a bona fide superstar at any other college or university -- is midfielder that evokes memories of former Syracuse great Paul Gait. His "upside" is as high as any player currently on Syracuse's roster and has so many skill attributes that this notebook fails to maintain the internet real estate necessary to list them all.
The offense will not run through Perritt, but his presence on the field will be recognized on a game-to-game basis.
While Syracuse's first line evokes memories of Syracuse lacrosse past, the most important aspect of this unit is its depth. Matt Abbott has impressed the coaching staff since his enrollment last season and performed fairly admirably as a member of Charlie Lockwood's "Upstate" squad during Team USA's exhibition slate. Abbott still needs to grow into his body, but can hold his own against Syracuse's opponents this season.
The big question facing Syracuse this season, though, is whether freshman phenom Max Bartig or junior Brendan Loftus will step onto the Orange second line midfield. Loftus came to the Salt City with high expectations but has not performed as well as anticipated. He has been a solid, if not underappreciated, contributor during his tenure, yet has not taken the step forward his is capable of making.
Thus, the door is open for Bartig to run with Syracuse's second line. As noted previously, Bartig is likely to see time at both attack and midfield. With his abilities, Desko will find a way to get Bartig on the field; it is simply a matter of the particular capacity.
Impact Potential: Necessary
Most Important Player: Rommel
Player to Watch: Perritt