Middle men paying off big for Syracuse

May 26, 1994|By Jeannie Albanese | Jeannie Albanese,Special to The Sun

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When trying to stop the Syracuse University midfielders, all the choices often turn out to be the wrong ones.

All-Americans Roy Colsey, Charlie Lockwood and Dom Fin are as different types of players as you could find on a lacrosse field. But they often find a common ground -- the small patch of territory inside the opponent's net.

The three are the heart of Syracuse's run-and-gun offense and account for almost 40 percent of the team's goals. Individually each poses a different problem for the defense; together they are deadly. Their play will likely be the key when the No. 1-seeded Orangemen (13-1) face No. 5 Virginia (12-3) in the first NCAA semifinal game Saturday at noon at the University of Maryland.

The three have forced teams to alter their defenses. Rather than leave long-stick defenders back to cover the attack, Syracuse's midfield has drawn one or two long sticks every game.

"Whatever choice you make is the wrong choice," said Towson State coach Carl Runk. "If you put the long stick on Lockwood, then Colsey will come up or Fin. Even if the long stick is on the player I feel we should stop, he's still difficult to stop."

Colsey relies on his strength, Lockwood on his speed and hard shot, and Fin on quickness and deceptiveness. Many coaches call the three the best midfield unit in the country.

"In terms of devastating offense, I think those guys are the best," said Brown coach Peter Lasagna.

Although the three all take the field together for the opening faceoff, they usually only run together on the man-up unit or when the Orangemen desperately need a goal. Colsey and Fin, who played at Yorktown High School in New York's Westchester County, run together on the first line. Lockwood, a Syracuse native, plays on the second line with juniors Mark Fietta and Paul Sullivan.

Not surprisingly, the three enjoy playing with each other. "It makes it really difficult to try and cover all of us [when we play together]," Colsey said. "They have to put someone real strong on me, someone real fast on Charlie and someone quick on Dom. Trying to find three guys that match up with the three of us . . . at least one of us will have a matchup against a weaker opponent."

"By far, when we are out there at the same time," Lockwood added, "it is the hardest line to defend in the country."

Colsey, at 5 feet 11, 192 pounds, is the bruiser of the group. He plods through double-coverage to get to the goal and tricks the goalie by aiming his shot for one spot then shooting to another. He leads the team with 41 goals and 12 assists.

Lockwood, 6 feet, 190 pounds, has great speed and endurance. He often initiates the fast break between the restraining lines and then breezes past his defender. He's called "Laser" for the strength of his shot, which has been clocked at up to 105 miles per hour. He's second on the team with 31 goals and 17 assists.

"Chuck shoots so hard, no matter where he puts it, if it's on cage, it's going to go in," Colsey said.

Fin, 5-8, 167 pounds, relies on his quick first step, tricky lateral moves and deceptive shot. Fin is elusive. dodging and rolling through traffic, and shoots well on the run. He's got 23 goals and 13 assists.

Against Towson, the three accounted for 10 of Syracuse's 17 goals, including the game-winner by Lockwood in overtime. Lockwood didn't score against Johns Hopkins, but Colsey and Fin made up for it with five goals between them.

Strong midfields have been a tradition at Syracuse, highlighted by Paul and Gary Gait in the late 1980s. Though not as dominating as the Gaits, the cumulative talent of Colsey, Lockwood and Fin may be the best the Orangemen have had, according to head coach Roy Simmons Jr.

All three have been named first-team All-Americans. Colsey and Fin made it last year and Lockwood, a member of the 1994 World Team, made it the season before. Simmons said all three deserve to make the first team this year. But only once before have three middies from the same team made the first team. That was in 1973, when three Maryland players were among the five first-team midfielders selected.

"I don't think I've ever had this many impact players all in one midfield," Simmons said.


The NCAA Division I lacrosse Final Four will be held Saturday and Monday at Byrd Stadium in College Park. This is the third in a series of preview stories on the four national semifinalists.

Team: Syracuse

Where: Syracuse, N.Y.

Enrollment: 10,500

Conference: Big East

Coach: Roy Simmons Jr., 244-83 (25 seasons)

1994 record: 13-1

Final Four history: Won championship in 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993; lost in final in 1984, 1985, 1992; lost in semifinals in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1991.

Road to Final Four: Beat eighth-seeded Duke, 12-11, in quarterfinals.

Tomorrow's preview: Princeton

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