It goes without saying that all teams in 2010 NCAA Division I Men's lacrosse has issues that need to be addressed.
But when one is a perennial power and the two time defending national champion like Syracuse, expectations are magnified.
From that 2009 title squad that rallied to beat Cornell in the championship game on Memorial Day, the Orange lost eight senior, all of which made it to the professional level. Head coach John Desko said that his new cast of young players will need time and game experience to prove that they can handle the pressure of a long season.
The most important issue of concern was losing strength at the midfield position - who would now quarterbacking the Orange attack? And could goalie John Galloway continue to improve and shut down opposing offenses, as in years past?
In the Carrier Dome Friday night in front of 4,938 fans, the Orange opened 2010 against an unfamiliar opponent - the Denver Pioneers -- but still won by a convincing 15-9 margin.
SU overwhelmed Denver in the first quarter, stampeding them with eight goals. For the night, it out-shot the Pioneers 41-31 and won the battle of face-offs, too going 19-for-27. The Orange also scooped up 40 ground balls, to Denver's 26.
The Orange's defense was exceptional in the first three quarters, protecting Galloway, who finished with 11 saves before being replaced by Al Cavalieri in the fourth quarter. The starter was quite happy with how the attack took pressure off him.
"There has been a lot of talk about how good the defense is going to be this year and how the offense is going to struggle," Galloway said. "And they really carried us in the first half. They gave us that comfort that we needed, and we took it and rode with it."