Freshman DeMarco starts against Duke, joins Syracuse faceoff rotation

first_imgWith an impending rematch approaching against defending national champion Duke, Syracuse turned to an unlikely player to kick the game off at the faceoff X.An hour before game time, Syracuse assistant coach Kevin Donahue approached freshman Joe DeMarco — who had yet to make his collegiate debut — and gave him the news. He’d be pitted against Brendan Fowler, the NCAA record holder for faceoff wins in a single season, for the game’s opening draw.Welcome to college lacrosse.“I was playing well in practice the past couple of weeks, so I kind of had a feeling my day was coming soon,” DeMarco said. “It was an awesome matchup to start with, get out there and try my best.”Although Fowler ran off with the first draw, DeMarco won the next three before Fowler eventually dominated the rest of the way. As Syracuse (4-3, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) cycles through its available options to send out to the faceoff X, the 5-foot-4, 185-pound DeMarco has become the latest addition to the mix seven games into the season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDeMarco supplanted senior Chris Daddio by taking the first draw Sunday in Syracuse’s latest possession-dry game, and the freshman remains someone SU head coach John Desko could give opportunities to moving forward. “We just thought we needed a change there,” Desko said. “We just looked at our youth and said, ‘This is our future.’ The other guys really aren’t getting better, so let’s at least put some game time into guys that might be our future.”Although DeMarco finished just 3-of-11 in the team’s 21-7 loss to the Blue Devils, he and Desko were encouraged by his early success that helped Syracuse jump out to a brief 2-1 lead.“I think he had a little bit of the surprise (factor), as far as no one knowing what he was doing,” Desko said. And it was just the tiniest bit of familiarity that might’ve given DeMarco an edge in the first four minutes. DeMarco recalled a faceoff clinic on Long Island he went to in 11th grade at which he went up against Fowler “only a couple of times.” He doesn’t remember much about those matchups, but whatever experience he gained then paid off early in Sunday’s contest.It was at such clinics that DeMarco honed his skill — and quickly. It wasn’t until his junior year at Massapequa (N.Y.) High School that he started pursuing faceoff specialization seriously.“You’re not really the true, true lacrosse player, but you’re a little different,” DeMarco said. “I like being unique and specialized.”In his two-year varsity career at Massapequa, DeMarco won 82 percent of his faceoff attempts — including a 91 percent clip to go with 235 ground balls his senior year — and captained the Chiefs as they coasted to an appearance in the Long Island Championship game last year.Massapequa head coach Tim Radomski raved about DeMarco’s talents at the X, and his everyday work ethic that’s gotten him to that level. He has a great sense of anticipating the whistle, Radomski said, and DeMarco’s explosiveness coupled with his low center of gravity allow him to pop the ball out to himself. “Last year, he was one of the best ones on Long Island. We knew we would dominate at the faceoff X last year with Joey,” Radomski said. “His work ethic is through the roof. I wish we had 25 guys like him on the team.“He’s short in stature, but he’s got a huge heart and he’s a giant team player.”With such lightheartedness comes the ability to laugh off the times he has to take pictures with SU teammates who stand a whole head taller than he does. But when it’s time to go to work, DeMarco has realized the steps he needs to make in his work ethic to compete at this level.Being the only freshman in Syracuse’s six-man faceoff corps, his work is cut out for him.Said DeMarco: “Back in high school, maybe you can be lazy on one faceoff and still kind of win it. But here if you take one faceoff off, you’re probably going to be chasing that guy down the field.” Comments Published on March 26, 2014 at 1:40 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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