Men's Lacrosse

Tyson Bomberry emerging as star on Syracuse’s defense

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Tyson Bomberry is not only consistent on defense, but he’s pushed offensive transition for SU.

Tyson Bomberry struggled to earn playing time his freshman year because the depth chart, with two seniors and breakout star Nick Mellen, was hard to climb. Bomberry took a hit from the deep Syracuse backline and struggled to earn minutes.

Bomberry had previously played on the U-19 Iroquois National lacrosse team and had been named a high school Under Armour All-American in 2015. Syracuse was a different story.

Despite being a sophomore and logging four appearances as a freshman, Bomberry has played like a seasoned veteran in No. 10 Syracuse’s (2-1) season-opening month. His success is a product of the box lacrosse he played regularly in Canada. There, with his cousin and now-teammate Brendan Bomberry, he developed his skills and consistency.

Box lacrosse is essentially indoor lacrosse, played in a hockey rink on concrete or turf. The game brings more physicality because of reduced space. Players must be fast with pickups and passes because opponents always lurk nearby. Box necessitates quickness and hones stick skills, ball control and ability to push transition.

“I have to play with a short stick in the summer,” Bomberry said.

At first glance, Bomberry does not look like the type of player to push transition. His 6-foot, 219-pound frame indicates strength over speed. Yet he’s proven capable of getting out to run, which diversifies his game of a defensive stalwart down low.

“He can play the body, which makes guys think twice about coming down the middle,” Firman said. “He’s unreal.”

In Syracuse’s 10-9 comeback victory over then-No. 12 Albany, long-stick midfielder Austin Fusco picked up a groundball and looked up the field. He fired a 40-yard pass to Brendan Bomberry. Tyson, running near midfield, saw Brendan had just one man to beat. He told one of his teammates to stay back and bolted toward the goal.

Brendan saw the 2-on-1 and, shortly, his cutting cousin. Tyson had enough time to corral the ball and put it in the back of the net to pull Syracuse within one.

“I looked at the box and they were changing so we had an odd-man opportunity if I went with him,” Bomberry said. “I told Brendan we were going to push it, and we pushed it.”

Syracuse’s defense has struggled and still seeks a reliable third option on the backline.  With just one start between the starting defense entering the year, late slides and communication problems have flared up. Bomberry has picked up the slack.

Against Albany, Bomberry led the defense with two ground balls. He added a team-leading two caused turnovers. In the following game, a 14-13 loss to Army, Bomberry racked up five ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Even with Bomberry’s production and a Top 10 ranking for Syracuse, the inexperienced defense is 30th of all 70 NCAA Division I lacrosse teams in goals allowed.

That’s why Bomberry’s multi-faceted skillset has been crucial. His quick feet and stick skills lead to easy groundballs and knocking passes out of the air to start the counter. His physical presence around the goal forces opponents to look for other ways to attack, like running around the cage and firing, which worked a few times for the Black Knights.

“We’ve even used him in practices on the wings during faceoffs because he’s such a good ground ball guy,” Desko said. “When he comes up with it, he’s such a threat offensively. If the other team picks it up, we have one of our strengths out there defensively, so we’ve used him in a lot of different situations.”

Against Virginia on Sunday, Bomberry will be called upon like he has in the close Albany and Army games. But this time will be different.

UVA ranks fourth in the NCAA in scoring, pouring in 16 goals per game. Offense is Virginia’s strong suit and the Cavaliers already have three players with 10-plus goals in four games. Syracuse doesn’t have one.

With the defense still in flux and Desko searching for a steady third defender, Bomberry faces a major challenge in just his fourth start. But that shouldn’t be a problem for a player Desko compliments without a qualifier.

“Each game he gets better and better,” Brendan said. “He’s one step ahead of them.”

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