Men's Lacrosse

Syracuse men’s lacrosse: 3 things John Desko said before SU’s alumni game

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John Desko's squad is scheduled to play its alumni game on Saturday. He spoke about his Syracuse squad on Tuesday.

Syracuse head coach John Desko addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of the team’s annual annual alumni game on Saturday at 4 p.m. Here are three notable things he said.

Nick Mellen out for fall with injury

Sophomore defender Nick Mellen will miss the entire fall due to injury and is expected to be 100 percent by the start of the season, Desko said. Mellen is the Orange’s most experienced returning defender, starting 16 games last year. With the graduation of fellow starting defenders Brandon Mullins and Jay McDermott, Mellen will be expected to carry a bulk of the defensive load.

Mellen carved a spot on the defense by becoming the go-to player to match up against opponents’ smaller, shiftier attacks. The 5-foot-9, 177-pound West Genesee (New York) High School product quickly made a name for himself, shutting down Albany’s Connor Fields in the first game of the 2016 season. He was exposed later on, though, like in the NCAA quarterfinals, when former SU attack Dylan Maltz scored three goals for Maryland.

“I think it was just an old injury that he had, he might have even had in high school,” Desko said. “So he won’t be playing this fall.”

Transfer Brendan Bomberry could be influential from the start

Syracuse picked up junior midfielder Brendan Bomberry this offseason following his transfer from Denver and could have a chance to contribute right away for the Orange, which graduated two of its starting attacks in Dylan Donahue and Tim Barber and starting midfielder Derek DeJoe. That leaves room open for Bomberry to slide into the lineup.

“He could probably play either position, attack or midfield,” Desko said. “He sees the field very well. He’s a good finisher. We know from his stats he was a very good man-up player for Denver.”

Coming off the bench this past season, Bomberry scored 19 goals and had 14 assists. His 11 man-up goals ranked first in the nation.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Ohsweken, Ontario native had four goals and four assists in eight games as a freshman. He missed the last 11 games, including Denver’s national title run, due to academic suspension, according to the Denver Post.

“He really understands the game of lacrosse,” Desko said. “He’s got very good stick work. He’s got great sense.”

Desko wants to build around his first midfield line

Last year, SU’s offense ran through midfielders Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido. Their ability to penetrate defenses with strong dodges toward the net and powerful shots to score goals created significant problems for opposing defenses. Mariano is a natural attack and Desko said he’s been practicing at both spots. But building the offense around an effective first midfield is Desko’s priority, he said.

“I think a lot of teams in Division I lacrosse are really looking for their motor to be that first midfield as far as creating slides and double teams,” Desko said. “That seems to be where most teams are having the greatest amount of success. So you really want to bolster that first midfield first.”

On attack, Syracuse returns one starter in senior Jordan Evans. Desko cited sophomores Nate Solomon and Devin Shewell as two players who could step up on attack. Solomon was the first attack off the bench by the end of the year and Shewell played his entire freshman season with an injury that Desko said he didn’t learn about until over the summer. Shewell had a “procedure” but is expected to be back to 100 percent this fall.

While Desko is considering tinkering with the offensive lineup like he’s done in the past, Mariano and Salcido are the two most proven threats that SU has and keeping them on the same midfield line coincides with Desko’s plan to build around that unit.

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