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The 2008 Lacrosse Season In Review - Part 1

Leveille's heroics would lead Syracuse to a solid first half.
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three part review of the historic 2008 Syracuse Lacrosse season. Part two will focus on the second half of the regular season, and part three will focus on the NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned for parts two and three in subsequent days.
You have heard it before. Syracuse came off one of the worst seasons in program history in 2007. The team was 5-8, failed to make the NCAA Tournament since 1982, and generally anything that could go wrong for Syracuse, and the Athletic Department in general, did. This caused a major adjustment in the lacrosse program. From the top down, Syracuse had a new attitude and philosophy coming into the 2008 season. Leland Rogers was moved from an administrative role to the defensive coordinator, Roy Simmons III was moved to the offense, the strength and conditioning coach implemented a brand new conditioning regiment, and the entire attitude of the team shifted from “we’re Syracuse and we will win” to “this is Syracuse and we win because we work hard”. The team bought it, especially captain Mike Leveille. Thus, from the #11th ranked Syracuse Orange, the team finished ranked #1, National Champions. After the best turnaround in Division 1 Lacrosse history, Syracuse is atop the lacrosse world once again.

The year started with high expectation and for the most part the team delivered. Syracuse opened up their season against Villanova, a familiar foe on the hardwood, but not so much on the lacrosse field. This was clearly for good reason, because Villanova presented no challenge for the Orange. Syracuse easily won 21-6 and had ten unanswered goals in the first quarter alone. Kenny Nims started his season off right with 6 goals in the game. Mike Leveille also started his season off solid with two goals and four assists for a total of six points. ‘Nova was no match for the refocused Orange.

Syracuse next faced Revenge Tour ’08 foe number one, Army. Only a year before Syracuse had lost to them 7-8. Now, the newly focused Orange would not let that happen. This time Syracuse was the victor 8-7. Mike Leveille was the top player with four goals and two assists in the game. Syracuse, like they did all year, had far more shots than the competition.

Next, Syracuse took on old foe Virginia, ranked #3 at the time, in the Face Off Classic in Baltimore, Maryland. This would be one of the first overtime matches the Orange, and the lacrosse season in general, would see. In a hard fought battle, clearly the first real test for the team, Syracuse lost a close one in OT to the Cavilers in Bawlmer 14-13. Steven Brooks and Kenny Nims each had three goals, and Mike Leveille had a pair of goals and an assist. But it was not enough as Virginia’s Brian Carroll win the game in OT. This was a disappointment for the Orange, but redemption is only ever a week away with the tough schedule Syracuse had.

It was now time to face #12 Georgetown. Syracuse severely out shot Georgetown in this game, but it would take two overtime periods to determine the winner. Brendan Loftus was the MVP and the hero in this game as he had four goals, one of which was the game winner. Mike Leveille added a goal and two assists as well. Syracuse would beat Georgetown, prove that this team would not go down without a fight, and regain their confidence in the murders row they would have in this stretch of the season.

Syracuse then would travel to Homewood Field to face rival Johns Hopkins in Maryland. It had been a number of trips for the Orange since the last time they had beaten Hopkins on their own field, and adding to the pressure was that they were ranked #4. Syracuse, for the third game in a row, would play extra lacrosse in an overtime period. Steven Brooks had four goals in this game, and Mike Leveille earned three goals and three assists. But again, it would take extra lacrosse for the Orange to put away another foe, as Steven Brooks put in the game winner to give Syracuse the victory over the Blue Jays, and the Revenge Tour ’08 rolled on with another loss avenged.

Syracuse would then play three games, that by all accounts would be a cake walk compared to the three games the Orange just played. First, the ‘Cuse would play Binghamton in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse would easily handle them 16-2 with Mike Leveille tallying four goals in the win. Then Syracuse would take on upstate rival Hobart in nearby Geneva, New York. Leveille would score his 100th career goal in a three goal, one assist effort. They would easily handle upstate rival Hobart 13-5. Loyola would then travel to the Carrier Dome, a team that beat Syracuse the previous year 11-10, but that would not be the case this year. Syracuse would beat Loyola in the Dome 13-8. Mike Leveille would again lead the way with three goals and two assists. Dan Hardy would also tally three goals in the contest as well. Syracuse would then turn its attention to more classic foes.

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1 Responses to “The 2008 Lacrosse Season In Review - Part 1”

  1. # Blogger Frankie

    the comeback at the end of the Georgetown game really was confirmation that the mentally weak team of the previous year was gone. The championship this season was one of the most satisfying sports memories I have.  

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