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Mike Preston: Pietramala and Gait could be forming a potent team with Syracuse lacrosse | COMMENTARY

Dave Pietramala is possibly searching for an apartment or about to close a deal on one near Syracuse, New York, where he could become The Orange’s new men’s lacrosse defensive coordinator.

The assumption here is that the former Johns Hopkins coach and All-American will sign his contract soon and start the job during the first week of July. By then, the transition will have settled at Syracuse after new coach Gary Gait arrived as the program’s new savior following the departure of John Desko, who was forced out but allowed to leave with some dignity.

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So, then that leaves the announcement of Pietramala, giving Syracuse’s storied program a much-needed face-lift with Gait, possibly the game’s greatest offensive player, paired with Pietramala, lacrosse’s top defensive player.

Pietramala, 54, hasn’t returned phone calls but several people close to him said he appears ready to take the job unless there is some last-minute reservations or contract problems. The move makes so much sense.

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At this time, there is virtually no other place for Pietramala to go. Like Desko, he was basically forced out at Johns Hopkins in 2020 following a 20-year stay. The coronavirus limited a lot of schools from having lacrosse in 2021 so there weren’t the usual head coaching firings.

If Pietramala missed another season, his chances of landing a full-time head coaching job at a high-profile Division I school in the future would have been near zero. He could have gone on to some Division II or Division III program, but that’s not part of Pietramala’s makeup.

At Syracuse, he gets to reestablish his name and credibility. If the Orange do well, and they will, he’ll get another opportunity to be a head coach at a big-time program. Gait and Pietramala are an interesting pair. They had some epic battles in college in the late 1980s; Gait as a midfielder with Syracuse and Pietramala as a Hopkins defenseman.

From those and other contests, they formed a strong friendship and they’ll complement each other at Syracuse. Gait is more laid-back, more at ease with what transpires on and off the field while Pietramala is fiery and high-strung.

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It’s a good odd couple.

They will have an impact on the college landscape even though it won’t be as great as it would have been decades ago when lacrosse was basically played in the three major areas of Long Island, Central New York and Baltimore. The talent pool is greater now, but it will be hard to turn down a Syracuse visit in any capacity.

Virginia and North Carolina have tradition and recruits love playing in the south, especially those from the East Coast. Maryland is the most consistent winner in the current game while Notre Dame and the Ivy League schools have name recognition.

But the playing field changes when it’s Gait or Pietramala knocking at your door. A current recruit may not know either, but his parents will. The resumes speak for themselves. Gait was a four-time All-American, won three national championships as a player and turned Syracuse women’s program into a perennial top-10 team following seven national titles as an assistant on the Maryland women’s coaching staff.

Pietramala was a member of the Hopkins 1987 national championship team and won the Schmeisser Award as the nation’s top defenseman in 1988 and 1989, He was an All-American three times and posted a 207-93 record as the Hopkins coach appearing in six NCAA final fours, four NCAA championship games and winning titles in 2005 and 2007.

Both Gait and Pietramala have seen the effects of the current game on their one-time storied programs, but they can both return Syracuse to the top position. It’s seems ironic that a Hopkins blue blood would help the Orange because these two teams have presented the game with some classic moments featuring coaches such as the Blue Jays’ Don Zimmerman, Tony Seaman and Pietramala versus Syracuse’s Roy Simmons Jr. and Desko.

If nothing else, it will increase the national interest in Syracuse. It’s not official yet, but barring any unseen circumstances, lacrosse has perhaps it’s two best players standing on the same sideline. A couple of decades ago, they were nasty, dominant competitors trying to win a national championship for their respective teams.

Now, Gait and Pietramala are possibly weeks away from exchanging philosophies and drawing up plays for one team only, the Syracuse Orange.

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