Navy defender Mike Felber was in Syracuse attackman Mike Powell’s chest, checking him, poking at his stick, daring Powell to make a move. Gladly obliging Felber — one of Navy’s starting close defenders — Powell spun left with lightning quickness, evading Felber and limiting the rest of Navy’s defense to spectators.
With vision only a Powell can have, he swung the ball across his body to a wide-open Liam Banks, who whisked a shot past Navy goalie Seth DiNola.
Banks, who left Syracuse for a year because of personal reasons, went berserk, pumping his fists in the air as he received hugs from teammates. Powell and Banks, a tandem last seen in 2001, were back as Syracuse outscored Navy, 13-9, through four quarters in Saturday’s scrimmage at the Carrier Dome.
The two teams played five frames, but statistics were only recorded through four, like a regulation game.
“I wanted to go out there and make some kind of mark,” Banks said. “It was a big confidence booster to me as well as this team.”
Powell, like Banks, has taken time away from the team. The junior missed the fall season because of academic reasons and was suspended from school. None of that mattered on Saturday as Powell scored three goals and added three assists to propel Syracuse.
“It was fun to run around and whack a couple guys,” Powell said, “and get out some aggression I’ve been holding in.”
Attacker Mike Springer was SU’s second spark plug against Navy, collecting a pair of goals and three assists.
The last of Springer’s assists went to leading-scorer Brian Crockett (four goals), to cap a 3-0 scoring run, giving the Orangemen an 11-8 lead with 10:31 remaining. Syracuse never relinquished the lead.
But Springer knew there was plenty to improve on, starting with chemistry.
“At times we (worked well together),” Springer said. “It’s one of those things that’s eventually going to get better.”
Syracuse opened with three quick goals to start the game, but found itself down 4-3 with 10:04 left in the second period. Syracuse coach John Desko attributed the goals to constant line changes as he tweaked different combinations.
“We’re moving a lot of people in and out,” Desko said. “We’re looking at some defensive schemes and we’re happy with the direction it’s going.”
Syracuse has been attempting to find suitable replacements for All-Americans Billy St. George and John Glatzel, who graduated last year.
In the backfield, sophomore Donn Vidosh and junior transfer Dan DiPietro joined Sol Bliss, the only returning close-defense starter. But Desko also will try Joe Sabasteanski and John Wright in the vacated spots.
“It was nice to get back out there,” Desko said. “We know what we’ve got to do and we’ve got some things to work on.”
This story was originally published in The Daily Orange.