Spallina and Hiltz help SU past High Point

Hiltz and Spallina help SU beat High Point

The duo combined for 10 goals as the Orange pulled away from a pesky Panthers squad.

The Orange defeat Manhattan 16-3 on Friday, February 9, in the JMA Wireless Dome.
Syracuse’s Joey Spallina (22) in action during a February game against Manhattan at the JMA Wireless Dome.

It wasn’t always easy. 

But the No. 7 Syracuse men’s lacrosse team was able to get past High Point University 19-13 in a game of runs on Saturday evening in the JMA Wireless Dome. 

Despite a dangerous comeback effort from the Panthers and festivities for senior night, the Orange were able to bounce back from a disappointing mid-week loss against Army.  

With this result, the Orange were able to improve their record to 5-2 on the season in the last of their seven-game home stretch to start the campaign. 

Sophomore attack Joey Spallina rebounded from a quiet outing against Maryland with a career-high seven goals, setting the pace with three early scores. Redshirt junior attack Owen Hiltz chipped in with a hat trick, his goals coming in quick succession in the third quarter to help the Orange restore order over the charging visitors. 

After forcing an early shot-clock violation in High Point’s first possession, the Orange immediately stormed down the field for a lengthy possession that resulted in a plucky goal from sophomore attack Finn Thomson

From there, Cuse began to roll. Spallina twice lost the Panther’s best defender, Zack Brenfleck, to grab himself two goals in 45 seconds. 

“He’s a generational talent,” said High Point head coach Jon Torpey of Spallina’s performance. “He can get into you, he can get under you, get over you. He can facilitate, he can dodge, he can feed.” 

Redshirt junior midfielder Jackson Birtwistle and sophomore midfielder Michael Leo each added a goal before Spallina made it an opening-quarter hat trick for himself, taking a heavy hit in the process of scoring an incredible goal. In this stretch, the Orange put six past the Panthers in just under seven minutes.  

The Syracuse defense held strong until conceding for the first time of the evening with seven seconds left in the first quarter. This tally could have been higher had grad student goalie Will Mark not made two outstanding saves in the opening period. 

The second quarter did not match the feel of the first as the Panthers entered an extended stretch of locking out the Orange, not allowing for as many clever passes on the interior as before. High Point also dialed up the physicality in this window, giving the Orange offense no room to breathe. 

During this period, the Panthers were able to get four goals back while shutting down the Orange for the last 13 minutes of the half. 

The Syracuse fans had become quiet as the small yet vocal purple fan section would roar to life with every big hit, ground ball won, and goal scored. Although the opening half concluded with an 8-5 lead for the Orange, the gulf in quality between the teams felt much narrower. 

The second half continued on as the first had ended. Despite an early Leo goal to settle Syracuse nerves, High Point came roaring back to net three goals in two minutes. 

HPU senior attacker Jack VanOverbeke was particularly impressive over this stretch, picking up two goals and an assist with his tenacious play. By the end of this continued run, the Panthers were back in it with the score at 9-8 after their 7-1 run. 

Throughout the evening, VanOverbeke picked up five goals and three assists, just one point short of Spallina’s effort, highlighting a brilliant individual performance. 

At this point in the game, star men Hiltz and Spallina decided to take the reins as the game threatened to fall into High Point’s hands. Hiltz responded to HPU’s eighth goal of the night with his own personal run, netting a hat-trick in under four minutes. 

Syracuse head coach Gary Gait praised Hiltz for his big performance in a critical moment, saying “I thought he dodged hard and had a solid game for us. I’m glad to see him get a hat trick and help us when we really needed it.” 

Men's Lacrosse SU vs Army
Syracuse’s Owen Hiltz drives toward the net during a game against Army on Feb. 28 at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Spallina, who had assisted one of Hiltz’s goals, grabbed two more for himself; Birtwistle got his second and John Mullen took one to goal from faceoff as Syracuse netted six times in under two minutes to re-gain control of the game, putting the score at 16-8. 

Through the last 20 or so minutes of the game, the Syracuse lead never looked too much in danger as their offense was able to keep pace with that of the Panthers.  

Following this win, the Orange will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to play No. 8 Johns Hopkins in their first away game of the season on March 9. 

The Orange will certainly get their fair share of road action over the coming weeks as they play only two of their last eight games at the Dome.