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At 30-year anniversary of Syracuse’s first NCAA championship, former players reflect on historic campaign

first_imgThe 1983 Syracuse men’s lacrosse team had two uniforms: blue and white.Leading up to the ‘83 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, the Orangemen were slated to wear their away blue uniforms against Johns Hopkins. But the team had other plans. Sophomore midfielder Brad Kotz, who was later named the tournament’s MVP, remembers the players urging coach Roy Simmons Jr. to implement a new color style.“We had never worn orange before that game,” Kotz said. “But we were the Orangemen, and it seemed only right to put on orange, like a tradition or something.”Simmons called to Syracuse to see if orange uniforms could be delivered to Rutgers. The team’s wish was granted and it was presented with new, orange jerseys prior to the game. The players thought they were upholding a tradition with the new shirts. In retrospect — 30 years and 11 national titles later — they were starting a far bigger one.Winning.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orangemen would go on to defeat Johns Hopkins 17-16 in the title game to capture the first national championship in school history. That 1983 squad is remembered for breaking ground. Members of the team recall their championship fondly, and know their role in catapulting SU into the national spotlight.“We had never experienced anything like that, not only as a team but as individuals,” then-sophomore defender Fred Cambria said. “It made us really start to appreciate the meaning of the word ‘team,’ because that is what that championship was all about.”It was like something out of a movie.Syracuse fell behind 12-5 in the middle of the third quarter and looked all but defeated. But then something clicked, something that none of the players will ever be able to explain.It started with Darren Lawlor’s goal late in the third quarter. Then Kotz and fellow sophomore Tim Nelson, both All-Americans, put the Orangemen onto their backs. Nelson poetically quarterbacked SU’s offense while Kotz started winning every faceoff and scoring at will. The result was eight straight goals that ended with an exclamation point.“When Randy Lundblad scored the goal that iced it I remember getting onto my knees and sliding at half field,” Nelson said. “I didn’t know what else to do, we shocked ourselves.”It wasn’t that the Orangemen weren’t used to winning. They were 13-1 on the season before beating Johns Hopkins, and the program was known for churning out competitive teams. But the team was also used to playing second fiddle to the national prominence of programs like Johns Hopkins and North Carolina.Heading into the 1983 championship game, Johns Hopkins had 39 championships, four in the NCAA. The Blue Jays were also celebrating the program’s 100th anniversary that season. Beating Johns Hopkins wasn’t just unlikely, it was unheard of.Still, the Orangemen’s determined upperclassmen weren’t going to let the past dictate the future.“We didn’t get the memo that we were supposed to lose that day,” then-senior defensive captain Jeff McCormick said. “Being a senior on a team with so much young talent wasn’t necessarily challenging. I just had to always let guys know that we could play with anyone, and I think we proved that.”Three decades later, Syracuse has become a perennial NCAA contender like the Johns Hopkins team that was supposed to derail its title hopes. The program now has 11 NCAA championships and 27 final four appearances, having become a destination for the nation’s top talent.“It’s not that we were angry being behind the Hopkins’ and UNC’s of the world, it’s just how it was,” said Derek Maltz Sr., a sophomore midfielder in 1983. “But what we did was huge. It allowed everyone to see what those inside the program knew all along. That Syracuse was one of the best lacrosse schools in the country, and is to this day.”The elder Maltz walked onto the team in 1982 and his son, Derek Maltz Jr., now starts for an SU team that will vie for the program’s 12th title Monday afternoon against Duke. Thirty years ago, Maltz and his teammates carved out a path. Now they watch as another generation attempts to walk down it.“To know that my son now has the opportunity to achieve the same thing I did is really special for me,” Maltz said. “Everyone deserves the feeling of winning a national championship. Everybody.”All of the members of the team have gone down different roads since a rare collection of ambition and talent brought them together on the biggest stage in college lacrosse.Cambria went into the entertainment business and won a National Sports Emmy for his work on the HBO sports documentary, “Assault in The Ring.” Kotz won two championships with the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League after graduating from SU. He’s since settled down with his family outside of Washington D.C., owns a small business, and runs a lacrosse program that his two daughters play in. Maltz coordinates various defense agencies in the Washington D.C. area.Maltz, his former roommate Cambria, and Kotz met up in Philadelphia to watch SU’s 8-7 final four win over Denver on Friday. They’ll do so again for the title game on Monday.McCormick founded Saturn Partners in 1994 and was recently named the executive producer of the movie Crooked Arrows. He will be celebrating his wife’s birthday during SU’s championship quest, and will obtain updates any way he can.And then there’s Nelson, the team’s steady facilitator that refused to accept defeat. Nelson is currently the assistant vice president of advancement at Utica College, after serving as the men’s head lacrosse coach from 1999-05. He has been, and will continue to watch this year’s SU team from his couch.Regardless of where life has taken them since winning it all together, they all see this year’s team the same way.As the 2013 Orange head into a championship game of its own, they are predecessors to the success achieved 30 years ago, another symbolization of just how monumental that inaugural championship team was.“I won’t say we’re the best team in SU history, but we’ll always be the first,” Nelson said. “The fact that I’ll always be able to say that, well, that’s nice.” Comments Published on May 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Around the Nation: Michigan-Iowa, Texas-Kansas State highlight weekend slate

first_img Published on February 7, 2014 at 12:25 am Facebook Twitter Google+ In a less than arousing college basketball weekend there’s still, as always, a fair share of story lines presented by Saturday’s slate.Wichita State will probably continue its undefeated season. Steve Fisher will continue to coach in a time machine. And someone on Kansas is going to baptize someone on West Virginia.After that, treat yourself to some average basketball and bank on next week being a little more exciting.No. 15 Texas at Kansas State, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3It’s an underwhelming weekend of college basketball when a Big 12 matchup featuring an unranked team sneaks its way into the top games. The Longhorns (18-4, 7-2 Big 12) are white hot in conference play, winning their last seven games including four against ranked opponents. Texas recently met Kansas State (15-7, 5-4) on Jan. 21 and beat the then-No. 22 Wildcats 67-64. Don’t expect this one to be as close as that, as the Longhorns are hitting their stride with a formidable combination of staunch rebounding and up-tempo offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNo. 10 Michigan at No. 17 Iowa, 2 p.m., ESPNMichigan (17-5, 9-1 Big Ten) was brought back down to earth by Indiana last Sunday, after starting 8-0 in the Big Ten. Then the Wolverines got back on track with a blowout win over Nebraska this week and will look to feast on a stumbling Hawkeyes (17-6, 6-4) squad. Iowa has lost three of its last five games — one of which was against Michigan two weeks ago. The Hawkeyes will have a chance if they slow down play in the half court, but if the Wolverines outshoot them, Nik Stauskas, Glen Robinson III and Caris LeVert will catapult the visiting team to a win.West Virginia at No. 8 Kansas, 4 p.m., ESPNKansas (17-5, 8-1 Big 12) dropped its first conference game to Texas last weekend but hung on to its Top 10 spot. West Virginia (14-9, 6-4) has been shaky since the start of conference play — relying heavily on the scoring duo of Juwan Staten and Eron Harris — and will have to have a lot of things go its way to stick in this one. With Kansas, it really comes down to which Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden Jr. show up. They’re all going to get their shots, and if they’re hitting, the Jayhawks effortlessly put teams away.Baylor at No. 21 Oklahoma, 7 p.m., ESPN2After starting conference play with some signature wins, Oklahoma (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) has sputtered out with two straight losses. The buck doesn’t stop on Saturday against Baylor (14-8, 2-7), a team itching to prove its worth after a miserable start to its league slate. The Bears currently sit ninth in the conference and need to start getting more production out of sophomore Isaiah Austin. The Sooners are a good team for Austin to get back on track against, as they struggle against big men who can stretch the floor.No. 23 Gonzaga at No. 24 Memphis, 9 p.m., ESPNI hate reverting to the mid-major spiel, but Gonzaga is making it easy this year. Sure, the Bulldogs (21-3, 11-1 West Coast) are nearly untouched in conference play, but have played too many close games against far inferior opponents and therefore haven’t earned the pedigree of a Top 25 team. Memphis (17-5, 7-3 American Athletic) is in a prime position to boost its strength of schedule in a game that is so randomly placed in both teams’ conference schedules.Rest of the scheduleAlabama at No. 3 Florida, noon, ESPNNo. 20 Virginia at Georgia Tech, noon, ESPN3Virginia Tech at No. 25 Pittsburgh, noon, ESPN3No. 18 Kentucky at Mississippi State, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3Texas Christian at No. 16 Iowa State, 4 p.m., ESPN3No. 13 Saint Louis at La Salle, 5 p.m., ESPN2No. 11 Duke at Boston College, 6 p.m., ESPNNo. 7 Cincinnati at Southern Methodist, 7:30 p.m., ESPNUNo. 4 Wichita State at Northern Iowa, 9 p.m., ESPN2No. 19 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 9:30 p.m., ESPNUNevada at No. 5 San Diego State, 10 pm., ESPN3– compiled by Jesse Dougherty, asst. sports editor, jcdoug01@syr.edu, dougherty_jesse Commentslast_img read more

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