Fresh start

Syracuse lacrosse returns its starting attack, plus some elite talent in Nicky Galasso and Randy Staats this season. For Billy Ward, the position change from attack to midfield was refreshing and embraced.

Billy Ward saw the writing on the wall.

Syracuse had returned its starting attack in Derek Maltz, Kevin Rice and Dylan Donahue from a season ago and added the likes of Nicky Galasso and Randy Staats into the mix. In an instant, the attack position became lethal, but crowded with elite talent.

Ward was proactive. Sometime in the fall, he went into Syracuse lacrosse head coach John Desko's office and pitched an idea to him.

"I said, ‘Where ever you want me to play, I'll play. If you want me to play attack, I'll be more than happy to stay at attack,'" he said.

But the wheels were already turning in Ward's head. Syracuse had just lost Jojo Marasco, Luke Cometti from the first midfield line and Ryan Barber from the second midfield line. There were openings at midfield and Ward wanted to take a stab at it.

"Coach said, ‘We'll try you at midfield and if it doesn't work then we will put you back at attack where you know how to play.'

"Luckily, I came up to midfield and it has gone fairly well," Ward said.

The senior will likely compete for time this season on the second midfield line. Scott Loy -- the only returning starter on midfield -- Hakeem Lecky and Henry Schoonmaker will make up the first midfield line (this is just an educated guess at this point).

Despite playing a little bit of midfield his sophomore season up on The Hill, Ward thinks of the change as a "fresh start" entering his last year in an Orange uniform.

"It keeps me fresh in a sense that it's all new and I'm going from different places and dodging from different spots," he said.

Ward, who is known for his dodging and feeding abilities at attack, is looking to not only translate that portion of his game on midfield, but improve on his shooting, a task that has been somewhat challenging given the space and angles a middy has to be aware of.

"It's just a matter of knowing some of the different dodge spots and getting familiar with the different kind of shooting," Ward said. "Shooting is the biggest thing. It's just different shots for me."

Aside from shooting, Ward is also trying to master the art of defense in the midfield.

"From a schemes point-of-view," Ward said, "no, it isn't hard because I have been around these offenses for all four years. As an attackman, I had to know what the middies were doing. That wasn't the hard part. The hardest part was defense. I have to learn the slid package and all these different things that are new that I've really never experienced before."

Ward will be showcasing his newfound midfield skills next Saturday, Jan. 25 when Syracuse takes on Le Moyne and Hofstra in a pair of scrimmages at the Carrier Dome at 10 a.m.

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