first_img Published on April 18, 2013 at 12:39 am Contact David: dbwilson@syr.edu | @DBWilson2 Christmas Eve was decision day in the Megill household. Ray Megill was a star at Maryland in the mid-2000s, but Brian Megill would decide between Syracuse and UMD.He still has the wrapping paper in his room – Maryland on one side, SU on the other – listing the pros and cons for each school as he weighed his decision.“It was Syracuse, Maryland,” Brian said, using his hands to indicate SU sat just inches above UMD. “It was really right there. … It was a phone call away.”He could have followed in his brother’s footsteps and joined the Terrapins.He nearly did, too. His original plan was that if the list came out even, he would choose Maryland to live near his brother. But Ray never pushed him toward Maryland.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I told him, ‘Don’t make this decision because I’m here,’” Ray said. “ … I’m all about making your own decisions.”But Brian had his own plan in mind — he would join the Orange. Blaze his own trail. Create his own legacy.Four years later, Brian is nearing the end of one of the finest careers by a defender in Syracuse history. When the Orange travels to Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tilt with Georgetown, a game Ray had hoped to be in attendance for if not for a scheduling conflict, Brian will play the penultimate regular-season game of his storied SU career.A pair of All-Big East honors, an All-American honor and a Tewaaraton Trophy nomination already dot Megill’s sparkling resume, with more of the same likely to come at the end of this season. But none of it would have happened without his older brother.“He’s a huge influence. He’s the reason why I play lacrosse,” Brian said. “He’s also the reason I’m here at Syracuse and not at Maryland.”Ray’s career with the Terps was just as spectacular. He was a three-time All-American and set the standard for what a Megill could do on defense.But Brian never wanted to do just what his brother did. They played the same position, and a career with the Terrapins would have led to inevitable comparisons between the two. With the Orange, he could create his own legacy, and the one he’s made is just as spectacular as his brother’s.But they get it done in different ways. Brian plays an aggressive style. Ray was all about body positioning and creating opportunities in transition. But they’re both leaders.“We communicate a lot on the field,” Ray said. “We’re always vocal.”As a freshman, Brian started all 15 games for the Orange’s top-ranked defense. He started all 17 as a sophomore as SU again boasted a top-five defense.Then, Joel White and John Galloway graduated. Megill went from being a piece to being the focal point. And he’s performed splendidly.Aside from struggling in the Orange’s most recent game — a loss to Alex Love and Hobart — Megill has been nearly flawless, and has turned Syracuse’s defense into one of the best in the country, even playing in front of inexperienced goaltenders Bobby Wardwell and Dominic Lamolinara. It’s given him a chance to exhibit that Megill leadership.“It’s Megill’s defense, we both know that,” Lamolinara said. “We’re not trying to do anything more than we need to.”Brian’s eyes light up at the very mention of his older brother. The usually business-like defender can’t help but smile when he thinks about the profound effect Ray had on his life and lacrosse career.“He’s been a trailblazer for me,” Brian said. “As much as I say I don’t want to follow in his footsteps, I wouldn’t mind it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm Contact Matt: mralex01@syr.edu Melissa Piacentini stands a few steps in front of the double doors that lead into the Syracuse locker room. She turns, thoughtfully, and points to the set of benches to her left just over her shoulder.“I still remember,” she said. “It was this bench right over here against Lindenwood.”Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer is talking about the only time she was ever benched.Piacentini wasn’t playing up to her abilities, and Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan pulled her out and didn’t put her back in. It happened right before Christmas break during her freshman year. Piacentini had a month to mull things over.“It made me sit back and think about my mistakes and think about how I had been performing back then,” Piacentini said. “It really made me mentally focused and come back ready to be stronger.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPiacentini called it the “best coaching decision” Flanagan had ever made for her. The move came at the perfect time and she was forced to view things through a different lens. Four years later, one of the most decorated players in Syracuse ice hockey history is gearing up for her final ride. Last season, Syracuse lost in the College Hockey America conference finals. With one last chance, Piacentini is hoping to take care of last season’s unfinished business. “Honestly I can’t say enough good things about her,” Flanagan said. “I’m already dreading losing a player like her to graduation.”Despite standing just 5-foot-2 on the ice, Piacentini can’t be missed. She’s a scrappy, physical player, and has already notched three goals and an assist in two games this season. Goalkeeper Jenn Gilligan played her first season at Syracuse in 2014 after transferring from New Hampshire. She went head-to-head against Piacentini twice, and remembers the shifty, speedy player with a nose for the puck.“Every single time there was a loose puck in front of the net, I just remember her being right there,” she said.In the third period of Syracuse’s season opener against Clarkson on Oct. 6, Piacentini corralled a loose puck off a deflection on the left side of the net and wrapped around to the right side, flicking the puck into the goal.She’s made a living of using her small size to dig out pucks around the net in her time at Syracuse.Gilligan joked that even during practice, Piacentini gets in her grill, acting as a “pot stirrer” in front of the net. After experiencing it from both sides, Gilligan is content just watching. “Every single time I’m in the net against Tini, I just shake my head because I’m like, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have deal with this again against her,’” Gilligan said. Yet for all the fire Piacentini brings to the ice, she also brings to it a sense of calm. In her four years, Flanagan said that Piacentini’s greatest development has been in the cerebral part of her game.From the moment she walked onto the ice as a freshman, Flanagan said, her fundamentals have always been ahead of the curve. Her progression has been a matter of polishing the little things and refining the mental parts of her game. “I think I’ve grown as a person,” Piacentini said. “Just being in the locker room they kind of instill those different life lessons in you and the mental toughness aspect of it all. I think over the years, I’ve just grown to become more mentally strong in terms of staying focused.”As a freshman, Piacentini found herself looking on from afar with four weeks to think things through. Now, she’s better adept at reading and handling situations and recognizing her own mistakes. “Her hockey knowledge just seems to calm everybody down on the team,” Gilligan said. “When she’s out there, we don’t panic as much as maybe we necessarily should.”Against Clarkson, Piacentini skated out for her final home opener. But the emotions were kept in check, and the focus was solely on winning the first CHA conference title and proving Syracuse could compete against anyone. And this time, Piacentini wasn’t on the bench. “I think Tini’s just going to do Tini,” Gilligan said. “…She’s just going to go after it and get done what she needs to get done and I think everybody else will follow after that.” Commentslast_img read more