For the longest time, the young man wearing the number 22 for Syracuse’s storied lacrosse program was “the chosen one.” To wear the fabled number was to inherit the legacy of all the great 22’s that played before you. Wearing 22 at Syracuse meant you had to play a pivotal role in bringing championships to the carrier dome. However, when the Orange face off in 2022… the fabled number shouldn’t be present on the field. In fact… it should never be worn again.
Syracuse Lacrosse Needs To Retire the Number 22
You can’t tell the story of college lacrosse without mentioning the players who wore 22 at Syracuse. During 10 of Syracuse’s 11 National Championship seasons, their best players wore the number, and many of these players are among the game’s legends.
Gary Gait, the Joe Montana of college lacrosse, who many old-heads would call the greatest lacrosse player of all time, changed lacrosse history in his sophomore season when he changed to the double-deuce, and then proceeded to not only be named first-team All-American in each of the next three seasons, but he also set Cuse’s record for goals scored, and led Cuse to three National Championships (I said THREE, the NCAA can catch me outside). Gait’s dominant and flashy style completely changed the way people play and watch lacrosse forever, and his career alone might’ve been enough to immortalize the number… but it didn’t stop there.
Nobody could’ve blamed Charlie Lockwood if he shrank in Gary Gait’s number. Imagine if Andrew Luck put on Peyton Manning’s 18 jersey in Indianapolis or if Mac Jones chose 12 in New England. Replacing an icon is hard, but wearing his number? The keebler elves think those boots are too big to fill.
But Lockwood didn’t shrink. Sure, he didn’t match Gait’s impact, but who could (foreshadowing) when he was so dynamic and unstoppable? Sure, Lockwood didn’t revolutionize a lacrosse dunk, and he only won one national title. But he was by far one of Cuse’s most consistent and reliable players of all time. By delivering Cuse another ring as the team’s captain, he ensured that wearing 22 for the Orange meant something… and then the Powell’s came along.
If Gary Gait is Joe Montana, Casey Powell is Tom Brady. When they made the (admittedly mediocre) lacrosse video game, it wasn’t named after Paul Rabil or Jim Brown (though Brown could’ve really spiced up this article if he’d worn 22 at Cuse), it was named after the player who put on the 22 jersey next. Everything Gary Gait did… Casey Powell did better.
while Gary Gait is arguably the greatest attackman of all time, and Charlie Lockwood was a brilliant midfielder, Casey Powell was dominant at both. The first player in college lacrosse history to be named first-team All-American at multiple positions, Casey also won midfielder of the year (1996) and attackman of the year (1998). It wasn’t enough for the three-time first-team All-American to be the best at either scoring position, he had to prove that he was the best player in the country during the mid-to-late 90’s.
Sure, Casey had 38 fewer goals than Gait had, but he compensated by having 68 more assists. Casey didn’t just dominate, he made everyone around him better. And just like Lockwood before him, Casey delivered the Orange a National Title, their fifth in seven years. Starting to sense a theme?
If you asked people to name their favorite Beatle, 95% of them would tell you either John Lennon or Paul McCartney. It’s easy to understand why, they’re both musical icons that transcend pop culture. But it could just as easily be argued that George Harrison was the most talented Beatle. Ryan (great name) was the middle-Powell at Cuse, and while he’s not Lennon or McCartney, he’s still among the elite 22’s.
Because even though Ryan didn’t have as many goals as big-brother Casey, or as many anything as the next guy on this list (though few do), he was still an absolute beast for the Orange. Because he was such an elite feeder, Ryan actually ended up having 21 more assists than his older brother, tying him with 287 career points. He’s also got a handful of All American nominations and a National Championship, so I bet most teams would take a Ryan Powell or two if they could.
Here’s a Narcissistic Penguin Fun Fact! Without Mikey Powell, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. Without Mikey Powell, this website wouldn’t exist. Without Mikey Powell, I would not care about sports at all, let alone enough to write about it. But when nine year old Ryan Smith sat in the bleachers and watched the freshman Mikey Powell, easily the smallest guy on the field, absolutely dominate everyone else, it changed my life forever.
I’m extremely biased, but to this day, I insist that Mikey Powell is the single most gifted and electric lacrosse player of all time. Elite quickness, stunning accuracy, and a flair for the dramatic that you love or loathe him but never in between. Syracuse’s all-time leader in points, the only player in men’s lacrosse history to be named the winner of the prestigious Tewaarton Trophy twice*, a four-time first-team All-American, and a two-time National Champion, Mikey Powell epitomized everything that made Syracuse Lacrosse the most dominant program in college lacrosse… and then it stopped.
*Technically the incredible Lyle Thompson won it twice, but he shared the award with the less incredible Miles Thompson, and this raises two questions. Firstly, how can there be two most valuable players? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Secondly, you’re absolutely full of it if you think I genuinely believe it’s a coincidence that Lyle and Miles Thompson won the award the same year when their names sound so similar.
The Other 22’s
There were some pretty good 22’s after Mikey Powell graduated. Dan Hardy played a pivotal role in two National Championship teams… but you’d hardly call them his teams when the likes of Mike Leveille, Stephen Brooks, and Kenny Nims were the big stars. Cody Jameison was unstoppable on the crease, and even scored a National Championship winning goal… but as a player that was never named All-American, he never really stepped up to be the guy like the 22’s of old.
JoJo Marasco was a dynamic game-changer for the Orange, and he helped get Cuse back to the dance, but a miserably bad faceoff unit had him stranded, helplessly on the wrong side of the field as Duke took home the gold. He was a great player though, and was named as an All-American.
Then Jordan Evans happened. And while he wasn’t a bad player, he was certainly the worst 22 in recent memory. His Orange never played in the National Championship game, he was never named All-American, and while he would’ve been remembered fondly if he’d worn any other number, he certainly didn’t do justice to the double-deuce… which leads us to Chase Scanlan.
On paper, Chase looked like a great representative on the number 22. He was the team’s leading scorer in the (woulda, coulda, shoulda) squad’s undefeated 2020 campaign, and looked primed to lead the team into 2021. As of this writing, despite playing one fewer game than all of his teammates, he still leads the squad in goals, but… it’s the reason why he’s played one fewer game than all of his teammates that has led me to have this conversation.
This is a very delicate subject to write about. As of this writing, nothing has been confirmed about what took place after Syracuse’s 21-9 shellacking to North Carolina on April 17th of this year, but it sounds like some kind of domestic violence dispute. Whatever it was, campus police were called, and Scanlan was “indefinitely suspended” by the team. The suspension ended up lasting a little over a week, but when Scanlan was set to return, Cuse’s team captains threatened to walk off the field if he came to practice.
Obviously, this is a very sensitive subject. The team has been deathly quiet, and while social media has offered plenty of evidence about what might’ve happened, including a horrifying picture of a broken wall, you don’t win prizes for making assumptions.
But if Chase Scanlan did what he’s accused of having done, he shouldn’t be allowed to play lacrosse anymore. Playing collegiate sports is a privilege, not a right, and it’s never acceptable to hit your significant other. Repeating that again, because this is a sports page, and some people that like sports have the empathy of a lego surrounded by broken glass-
It is never acceptable to hit your significant other.
And if that is the case, he’s tarnished the legacy of a wonderful number by being a dreadful human. In one horrible moment, he’s done something so bad that it takes the shine off of nearly 20 years of excellence. 22 is associated with a flashy playing style that redefined the sport of lacrosse and turned the Ivy league/State of Maryland-centric NCAA tournament on it’s head, but now there’s a very real chance that when you name the likes of Gait, Lockwood, Powell, Hardy, Jameison, or Marasco, you’ll have to talk about Scanlan instead.
Not to mention, the decline of the number coincides with the decline of the program itself. The longest gap between titles before this one was five years, between 1983 and 1988. This one is approaching triple that number. They’re still in the conversation every year, and they were arguably the nation’s best team in 2020, but they stumbled back to mediocrity this season.
Between Evans falling short and Scanlan’s off the field controversy, the number does not mean what it once did. The legacy of 22 has been tarnished, and Cuse should just hang it up in the rafters. You can show all of the championship banners, the number 22, and then only mention the greatest hits. And then, if there’s a freak prospect, or maybe the next Powell or Gait, you can unretire it.
Or give it to Owen Hiltz, who has been compared to Mikey Powell enough times by Paul Carcaterra.