Luke Schwasnick’s tenacity and size help Syracuse lacrosse win ground balls on faceoffs

first_imgMatt Hankin | Design Editor Published on April 18, 2016 at 10:12 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds The only thing Luke Schwasnick cares about is getting the ball. He doesn’t care that he only plays for a fraction of games. He doesn’t care if he needs to sacrifice his body. He doesn’t even care if he has to take out his own teammates in practice.About a month or two ago, assistant coach Kevin Donahue had to tell Schwasnick to settle down. Schwasnick ran in from the side of the field at full speed and crashed into faceoff specialist Ben Williams, arguably Syracuse’s most valuable player.“I just always have that thought in my mind,” Schwasnick said. “You got to get the ball.”The 6-foot-1, 228-pound redshirt freshman has made his biggest mark on No. 8 Syracuse (7-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) in the past two games while picking up four ground balls, half of his season total. He’s played an increasing amount as the Orange’s short-stick midfielder rushing in from the wing on faceoffs. Known for his physical nature at the position, Schwasnick utilizes his size while providing depth for SU.Though playing on the wing in college is much more specialized than it was in high school, Orange coaches have seen Schwasnick’s potential on the wing for years.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s fearless. He’s big, strong, athletic,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “I know why we recruited him. You can see it in him, just him physically and athletically.”The most comfortable Schwasnick has felt all season came against Cornell on April 12. For the first time, he received significant reps on the wing, where Tom Grimm received the majority of time in the beginning of the season. But Grimm went down with an injury on April 2, and SU had been scrambling for answers since.In came Schwasnick, who plays with a tenacity that matches his size. He’s as tall as any of Syracuse’s short-stick defensive midfielders. He’s 30 pounds bigger than the second heaviest. And when he rushes in from the wing, opposing players have to take notice.“Wow, that’s a big boy,” short-stick midfielder Paolo Ciferri said of his first impressions of Schwasnick. “He’s going to be able to knock some people around.” Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Related Stories Paolo Ciferri fills in as Syracuse lacrosse defensive midfielder Against North Carolina on Saturday, Schwasnick got even more playing time than against Cornell.About 10 minutes into the game, the ball squirted toward UNC’s attacks after a faceoff. Schwasnick charged toward them and knocked the ball away from the player who had it. As the scrum continued, he kept boxing out. And after another Tar Heels player picked it up, he leaped into the air, wrapped his stick around their body and forced another loose ball before SU eventually earned the possession.Then midway through the second quarter, Schwasnick matched up against North Carolina’s Steve Pontrello. As Pontrello caught a pass about 12 yards in front of Syracuse’s net, he didn’t shield himself from pressure. Schwasnick took a running start and laid his body into the 5-foot-9, 198-pound Pontrello. When the two collided, Pontrello, his stick and the ball dropped to the turf as the Orange began its transition offense.“Schwasnick’s been great. He’s been terrific,” Desko said. “He’s just a warrior in there.”As Williams and UNC’s Stephen Kelly battled for even just a sliver of space to flip the ball out to their teammates, Schwasnick fought to get in position for the faceoff win.They often ended up in a stalemate and Schwasnick was forced to box out. And that’s what he does best.“I love the position. I love the grinding mentality,” Schwasnick said. “… The whole physical aspect is something else I thrive off of.”With Grimm injured, Ciferri and Joe Gillis had to take on a more physically-taxing role as defensive midfielders. But by adding Schwasnick into the rotation on the wing, Ciferri and Gillis can save their energy.In his first season receiving playing time, Schwasnick can still improve his offense and defense. For the time being, though, he’s able to contribute by sticking to his simple “get the ball” mindset.“I think you’ll see him a lot on the wing going forward,” Desko said. Commentslast_img

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