Delaware’s 19-6 rout of Detroit Mercy on Saturday kicked off the college lacrosse campaign, and ESPN analyst and former Syracuse midfielder Paul Carcaterra participated in a few conference calls Tuesday to prepare for the coming season. Carcaterra found some time in his packed scheduled to discuss interesting storylines.
Were you surprised by the decision by Syracuse to join Pittsburgh in moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014?
I wasn’t because I was able to have some information financially as to why it made sense for Syracuse as an athletic department to make that move. It made all the sense in the world in terms of the long-term picture, to be involved in a conference like the Atlantic Coast Conference. It would just benefit not only the lacrosse program but all of their athletics as a whole. With the unrest in other conferences and realignment, I think it was important for Syracuse to make a long-term commitment to a conference that they knew would be around for a while.
Barring a collapse by one of the teams in the ACC, would that mean that five spots in the 16-team tournament would be filled by schools from that conference?
Yes and no. They’re all going to be beating each other up. There’s going to be years when one of those teams doesn’t make the playoffs. I don’t think it’s a lock every year where all five teams make the tournament. One of the things I really don’t want to see is an ACC tournament with five teams. I don’t think an ACC conference of five teams should have a tournament of four. It was natural to let all four teams play in an ACC tournament, but when you bring in a fifth team and have to leave one out, I don’t know.
How will Syracuse’s move impact the ACC and the Big East?
I think it makes the ACC a serious destination of any high school lacrosse player who wants to play in the best lacrosse conference in the country. You’re playing with and against the best week in and week out. It will actually help out Syracuse even more from a recruiting standpoint because they predominantly recruited in New York and upstate. Now I think Syracuse becomes relevant in the southern states. If you see Syracuse in the ACC and you’re a Southerner, there’s more of an interest to play in that conference. The flip side is there will be a tremendous talent in upstate New York and those players aren’t going to be complete locks to go to Syracuse. I think it’s two-fold. As for the Big East, I think the wild card long term is Villanova. I think Villanova has the potential to become a serious lacrosse school, and they could lessen the departure of Syracuse and continue to have the Big East be a factor. I think Notre Dame is a program that’s going to stay and be a top team in lacrosse for many years. The x-factor is Georgetown needs to rebound and become relevant on the national scene. But I wouldn’t be too concerned if I was the Big East.
Who is the best team – on paper – in the country?
I think you have to go with Virginia. They have the best 1-2 punch in college lacrosse in [senior attackmen] Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet. They complement each other so well. Many of those key guys on defense are back. I think [senior] Rob Fortunato is a good goaltender, and I think he’s going to stand up and play solid lacrosse. And their midfield is really deep. I think a kid who could have a breakout season and could be one of the top midfielders in the country is [sophomore] Rob Emery, and he’s going to do that by playing next to [senior] Colin Briggs. It’s going to be very difficult to cover Briggs and Emery. And then you sprinkle in guys like [junior midfielder] Matt White and [sophomore midfielder Mark] Cockerton. You have a really formidable midfield, you have the best 1-2 punch in college lacrosse on the attack, and you have a defense that grew up and you can depend on.
Is there a team flying under the radar?