SYRACUSE | If the objective is to score goals, then it probably isn’t the best idea to give away all the moves to a goalie.

One keeper in particular knows the tactics of Syracuse University men’s lacrosse, sophomore attackman Kevin Rice. What’s worse Rice, a Skaneateles High School alum, revealed the secrets on purpose.

“He warms me up everyday so I have kind of gotten used to it,” said sophomore goalie Bob Wardwell of his team and classmate. “His favorite shot is about five yards out and five yards up and he can stick it anywhere in the net.”

Tuesday was the second official day of practice for the team at the Carrier Dome, and Rice and Wardwell were the first two out of the tunnel to continue the preparation for the new year. They went to work straight away with Rice whipping the ball on Wardwell. The goalie made his practice saves.

They are two of the younger guns on the 54-man Orange roster that is currently ranked No. 14 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse magazine. The group is looking forward to making ‘13 much luckier than ‘12.

“I’m really excited. We have a chip on our shoulder. We are excited to get going,” Rice said about the upcoming SU season that begins on Feb. 17 against SUNY Albany in the Dome.

That chip comes from a 9-8 record last season that included losses at Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and Cornell. SU made the NCAA tournament by winning the Big East Tournament, but fell in the first round of the national tournament at Duke.

The Orange get the Cavaliers, Blue Jays and Big Red at home while going to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to play the Irish. Brian Megill, JoJo Marasco, Steve Ianzito, Joe Fazio and Derek Maltz are the 2013 captains. Megill was named a preseason first team All-American.

“We return our whole defense and our starting goalie so that is definitely a bonus. Our offense is unproven, but we have the pieces there to be good,” said Rice, one of the pieces on offense this season. “I am hoping to help the team get back to where we have been in the past and where we should be.”

SU averaged 10.35 goals a game last year and need players like Rice to step into more prominent roles to get back into the “elite” status which the program has had for years. Syracuse has 11 national championships in men’s lacrosse, with the last coming in 2009. Over 60 percent of this year's roster is freshmen and sophomores.

"We knew we had a young group and needed to grow (last year). They were going to make mistakes. The group, in general, both offensively and defensively with the guys we have back are going to be more experienced to start this season than where we were a year ago," SU head coach John Desko said. 

“I learned a lot. I didn’t get too much playing time, but I was on the road the whole time and learning from guys,” Rice said after appearing in six games for the Orange in 2012 and scored a goal against UAlbany.

“I learned what it takes to win. You have to come everyday to win,” Rice said. “You can get upset by anyone. There is a lot of parity now.”

Rice cut his lacrosse teeth at Skaneateles and he led all of Central New York in scoring with 136 points (70 goals, 66 assists) as a senior in 2010 as Skaneateles went 17-2 and won the Section III, Class B title. He had 184 goals and 117 assists in three seasons at Skaneateles.

“We ran a lot of similar stuff by playing up and down all of the time in high school and that is what we try to do here,” Rice said. “Coming in with the same fast paced mentality definitely helped.”

“He is really accurate and will help get a lot of goals this year,” Wardwell said of Rice.

The goalie should know.

He has seen all of the moves.

Sports writer Ben Meyers can be reached at 282-2257 or at ben.meyers@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMeyers.

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