High Point's winning streak reached six in a 17-15 victory over visiting UMBC on Saturday. The Panthers (6-2) haven't lost since opening the season by falling to Delaware and Towson.
High Point is in its second year as a Division I program. Is it doing anything that other new programs, or those considering adding lacrosse, could emulate?
"The biggest thing," says a coach who has seen the Panthers in person, "is they play really hard. Every guy on the team. They remind me of the old Navy teams. … Their goalie even plays the high arc like Navy used to. He will come out and challenge shooters. It gives people fits. Anytime you have a goalie doing that, it's something different to deal with."
Coach Jon Torpey, a Calvert Hall grad and former Goucher assistant, says he fosters the competitive spirit as best he can, especially considering the only two seniors on the roster are transfers — from Jacksonville and Navy; there also is a graduate student who previously played at North Carolina.
When there isn't a midweek game, Torpey uses a unique plan during practice.
He says the team spends Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday working on individual skills. The second half of Wednesday and the rest of the week are spent working on the upcoming opponent.
"We really continue to focus on our individual skills. We're not just practicing for the opponent that week," Torpey says. "Some guys develop better in that environment. … Some of our most competitive moments happen early in the week in the skill sessions."
The Friday walk-through usually turns competitive as well, Torpey says.
"We try to come up with a sort of competition. Something stickwork-related or a ground-ball drill or six-on-six. We want to make sure every rep counts."
Syracuse exploring faceoff options
Until now, the Syracuse staff has stuck mostly with senior Chris Daddio, a senior with three-plus seasons of college experience. Now, with Daddio slipping to 44.2 percent on the season after a solid start, and a visit to Duke coming up Sunday, Desko hinted it may be time for a change.
Syracuse has won an anemic 39.5 percent of its faceoffs through six games, No. 57 in the nation among 67 teams that play Division I lacrosse; the Orange beat Johns Hopkins last weekend despite going 4-for-25 at the X.
"It's in the thought process," coach John Desko said. "That's been a difficult thing for us because it seems that every week we've had somebody else maybe do a little better than the other guy, and … Chris has been the only one who has been consistently the best. And then we watch the film and he's so close. There are four, five or six faceoffs that we see every week on the film where he gets down on the ball first, where he has it and we just haven't been able to come up with it as much as we'd like to. It's just been difficult. We're looking at all options."
Cal Paduda, who saw significant time at the X last season when Daddio faltered, was injured in the preseason and does not appear to be close to returning. That leaves junior Mike Iacono, a junior-college All-American last season but 6-for-20 (.300) at Syracuse; walk-on Austin Wentworth (4-for-14; .286); long-stick midfielder Peter Macartney (1-for-9; .111); and true freshman Chris DeMarco, who has yet to play, although Desko said the rookie is "definitely an option."
It is hardly a lineup that will strike fear in Duke's Brendan Fowler (.587), who took over last season's title game against Syracuse, going 21-for-30; he sparked a 12-1 run in the middle of the game that erased an early 6-1 deficit and ultimately resulted in a 16-10 Duke victory.
"He's terrific," Desko said. "The scarier part of it was North Carolina did better than he did last week and they're still on our schedule, too. But he's excellent, as we've seen in the past. We have to make sure we're efficient in all other aspects of our game."