Leveille hits stride vs. Princeton
A little more than three minutes had passed in the second half against Princeton and the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team found itself on the mat.
After securing a 3-2 halftime lead, Syracuse surrendered three quick goals to the Tigers and desperately needed a spark to stop Princeton’s third-quarter mauling.
The Orange got its flash a few minutes later in the form of freshman attack Mike Leveille.
Leveille led SU with three goals on Saturday as Syracuse defeated Princeton, 10-8, at Class of 1952 Stadium.
‘I’m just getting more confident with every game and our team’s getting better,’ Leveille said. ‘It’s still early so I’m just trying to build some chemistry with the guys out there and it just feels good.’
But early in the third, the Orange (2-3) didn’t look so chemic, and it wasn’t until Leveille took matters into his own hands that events turned for SU. Leveille took a pass behind the net with 9:30 remaining and proceeded to outrun his man to the middle of the field before whipping a shot past Princeton’s Matt Larkin.
The humble Leveille then let out a hearty fist pump, his score serving as both tourniquet and turning point for Syracuse.
‘Leveille,’ Princeton head coach Bill Tierney said with a sigh, ‘he ain’t a freshman. He is, but he isn’t. Here we go again, starting to face a guy for four years and he’s pounding three on you his first year.’
The freshman’s goal triggered a 7-3 Syracuse run to close the game, sending the Tigers (0-4) to their worst start in 18 years.
The hat trick continued an impressive rookie season for Leveille, who now has 11 goals in five games. The Delmar native has been particularly scorching of late, scoring eight of his goals in SU’s last two games.
Against Princeton, junior attack Brian Crockett saw himself marked by Tiger All-American Oliver Barry. With Barry locked on Crockett and Princeton not sliding much on defense, Leveille took full advantage of his opportunity.
‘The guy guarding me did a good job, didn’t give me a lot of open looks,’ Crockett said. ‘But that’s why you have a team, and Mikey and the rest of the guys really stepped it up today.’
While he has yet to record an assist this season, Leveille’s prodigious goal scoring is undoubtedly a welcome sight for the Orange. With the well-documented loss of offense from last year’s team, SU looked for Leveille to step into a major offensive role immediately this year.
So far, Leveille has obliged, trailing only Crockett in goals for SU this season – and trailing him by just one score.
The opportunities will only increase for Leveille. After posting his prolific numbers against national powers like Johns Hopkins and Princeton, Leveille and SU now get to feast on some lesser opponents.
‘I thought he did a great job against Hopkins a week ago and we were hoping he’s come into his own,’ said SU head coach John Desko. ‘He showed that today. He played really good ball, beat his man a bunch of times. We needed the freshmen to step up for us and he did.’
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