Despite short stature, Lade excels in role as SU’s No. 1 defender

first_img Published on April 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm At first glance, John Lade doesn’t look like a defender to his own teammates.‘I’d say no,’ said freshman defender Brian Megill, taking second and third looks at Lade on the practice field Tuesday. ‘I mean, now that I see him now, I know John’s a great defenseman. But seeing him for the first time, I couldn’t see him being a defenseman, really.’Lade’s not a prototypical defender. Doesn’t look like one, at least. Coming in at 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, Lade is a far cry from the 6-foot-plus, 200-plus-pound Megill and Matt Tierney that accompany him on the starting defensive line.Despite the lack of classic defender size, Lade has become the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team’s go-to defender. Since returning to the lineup after missing the Orange’s first three games with a thigh injury, Lade has keyed an SU defense that has allowed just 7.1 goals per game since his return.Case in point: Matched up with Princeton attack Jack McBride — who scores 2.4 goals per game — on April 10, Lade kept him scoreless. Matched up just three days later with Cornell attack Rob Pannell, who came into the game scoring more than five points per game, Lade held him to just three assists.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘You can see the difference,’ Megill said. ‘In the first three games, we gave up a lot of goals. When John came back, ever since then, me, him and Matt (Tierney) have just been really gelling.’But it wasn’t always this effortless for Lade, who had to work against odds stacked against him of becoming the go-to defender on the No. 1 team in the country. Odds that revolved around his frame.The questions started coming after high school, as Lade was overlooked by numerous Division I lacrosse programs. As his former Randolph (N.J.) High School teammate Mike Horowitz recalls, Lade’s recruiting visit to Penn State ended in head coach Glenn Thiel telling him he was too small. ‘And John basically told them,’ Horowitz said, ‘‘You’re going to be sorry.”Lade was frustrated at the coaches’ sentiments. So, he went to work to disprove them.‘Coming out of high school, it was definitely a little chip on my shoulder,’ Lade said. ‘I got overlooked by some of the bigger schools because of my size.’ Lade ended up at Villanova in 2007. That’s where Syracuse longstick midfielder Joel White first noticed him. Later on, White got a chance to play with Lade on the U.S. Under-19 team that won the gold medal in the International Lacrosse Federation Championship in the summer of 2008.White saw past Lade’s size. Despite being 3 inches shorter than any other defender on the team, Lade stood out the most to White.Syracuse was losing senior starting defender Kyle Guadagnolo and Evan Brady after its 2008 national championship season. So, White put in a good word.‘I started talking to him and got to know him,’ White said. ‘I knew we lost Kyle and Evan Brady that year, so I kind of told him, ‘Hey man, if you want to come over, we’re going to have two spots open.’‘He was hesitant at first, but I kept talking to him and was in his ear about getting him to come here. … I knew he would do great here.’And upon Lade’s transfer to SU before the 2009 season, White saw immediately just how Lade adjusts to the lack of prototypical size — through speed, instincts and a ball-hawk mentality. Speed, as in when Lade caught up to the Tigers’ McBride after McBride got by him and prevented him from getting off a shot. Instincts, like when Lade seems to know which way the attack wants to dodge toward the goal. The ball-hawk mentality, like when Lade jumped a pass to Pannell in the final seconds of the Orange’s game against Cornell and started SU’s game-winning sequence.And those have all led Lade to become the player he is today. In time, everyone learns there’s more to Lade than his frame.‘You know that cliché,’ Megill said. ‘It’s not the size of the dog. It’s the size of the fight in the dog. You don’t have to be the biggest guy on defense to cover the biggest guy. You just have to have good skills and good fundamentals. And John’s got all of that.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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