The Syracuse Orange men's lacrosse program is to college lacrosse what Alabama is to college football. SU's 11 national championships and 39 NCAA Tournament appearances stand alone atop the Division I level.
What's maybe even more impressive: Syracuse became a national powerhouse with only four different coaches since 1916. That's something not even Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide can say.
In June, Gary Gait became the fifth men's lacrosse coach in school history, taking over for the retired John Desko. Gait said he speaks with Desko, who coached the Orange to five national championships in 22 seasons, regularly.
"He's been very supportive," Gait said. "He's onboard and I certainly appreciate that as the new coach."
And the players appear to be on board with the new coaching staff, too. Midfielder Brendan Curry, one of SU's 2021 team captains, said having experienced older players helps with adapting to the new coaching staff.
"It's definitely different, but it’s in a good way," Curry said. "We have a lot of fifth-year seniors, a couple of sixth years, so we have a lot of the same culture and leadership coming back which is always good with a big change like this."
One of those sixth-year players, eligible because of the NCAA's COVID-19 policy, defender Brett Kennedy is returning for a final season under Gait and new defensive coordinator Dave Pietramala.
"I wanted to come back to be a part of this change," Kennedy said. "[I'm] forever grateful for the staff before; I love them. What they're bringing to the table I think can definitely change some things up and we're excited for that."
Kennedy said learning new schemes and setting new standards under Gait and Pietramala puts the Orange in a position to reach their goals.
"This is my sixth year here and I feel like a freshman all over again learning everything from him," Kennedy said of Pietramala. "He's going to get on you. When you make a good play he's going to let you hear it and when you make a bad play he's going to let you hear it. I think the biggest thing is he's a really good teacher with us and we're all open ears, ready to learn from him."
That goal: to bring a National Championship back to The Loud House. Last year, the Orange fell to the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"After last year, I think we all have a chip on our shoulder," Curry said. "We know some of our coaches do as well, so we're buying into that. It's been a fun couple of weeks so far."