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Lucas Quinn’s first major play of the 2022 season started when Brendan Curry beat his defender near the edge of Maryland’s defensive area.
The Orange offense needed a spark. They trailed 5-0 early in the second quarter to the best-ranked team in the nation and had failed to significantly test Maryland goalie Logan McNaney by that point. Syracuse’s shots had been weak, with most fired straight at McNaney.
That’s when Quinn came in. He recognized he had space, and took a few steps back to separate himself from his short-stick defender to create shooting space. Then Quinn caught Curry’s pass and rifled a low, side-armed attempt. His first shot of the game rippled the bottom left corner of the net, resulting in Syracuse’s first goal of the game, and Quinn’s first of the season.
Quinn’s goal started the Orange’s brief comeback, as three goals from Tucker Dordevic and two more from Quinn followed to make it a one-goal game by halftime.
Last year, though, Quinn wasn’t in this position. He’s worked his way up from a reserve midfield role in 2018. He missed much of the 2019 season after an early-season injury and then played a consistent role on the second-line midfield in 2020 and 2021. Now in his fifth season at Syracuse, Quinn has stepped into a bigger role, one that could continue for the 2022 season.
Against No. 1 Maryland on Sunday, he earned his first career start after missing the season-opener against Holy Cross. He scored three goals, tying his career-high.
Except for the Colgate game in 2020, Quinn had never taken more than six shots in a game during his Syracuse career. Sunday, he fired seven, the second-most on the Orange and one fewer than leading-attackman Dordevic.
“We just kind of adjusted to the way they were playing to our inverts and when we were dodging on the wing with picks,” Quinn said after the game, when asked if taking so many shots was part of the game plan.
Since Owen Seebold, Dordevic and Curry drew long-stick matchups for most of the game, that left Quinn matched up with a short-stick midfielder, which created a number of shooting opportunities for the fifth-year senior.
“It’s trying to create some opportunities for the offense,” head coach Gary Gait said of the offensive rotations he implemented. “Not always wanting to be predictable, and we want to try to make it difficult to get the matchups they wanted to get, so we were putting our four best offensive players out there almost every shift.”
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In the second quarter, when Quinn had those opportunities, he delivered. On his second goal, Quinn started from X and drifted away from the ball carrier, Griffin Cook. Then Quinn paralleled Cook’s movement and darted around the front of the cage, twisting his body almost a full 180 degrees after catching the pass to unleash a stinging shot into the net. Quinn said it was a play the Orange worked on with offensive coordinator Pat March this week at practice.
“That was something we worked on all week, just that two-man that we were running behind the goal,” Quinn said. “(I) saw that (Cook) drove up the side and my guy was stuck in the front of the net. Just back-cut him and Cook threw me a pass.”
And to complete his hat trick, Quinn watched Dordevic charge around to the mouth of the cage from X. With less than 10 seconds left in the half, Quinn caught Dordevic’s pass and then fired a laser-accurate shot from 15 yards out.
“Tucker was obviously doing a great job driving up the side, and then I was just moving to the open space,” Quinn said.
The fifth-year senior was quieter in the second half, firing one shot that was stopped by McNaney in the third quarter and another that sailed wide in the fourth. But he made his impact known during that second frame, proof that he’s capable of continuously filling a significant role in the SU offense.
In past seasons, Quinn’s spot on the second-line midfield meant he didn’t often play alongside the likes of Dordevic on game days. But when Dordevic notched SU’s third goal of the afternoon, moments after Quinn’s first, the former second-line midfielder was standing right next to the cage.
He then raised both arms in the air for a few moments, celebrating the moment and gesturing toward the SU fans to cheer louder. Then he went right back to work.
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