Webster’s defines the verb “roller-coaster” as move, change, or occur in the dramatically changeable manner of a roller coaster. You could also use this to define the 2016-2017 season of the Syracuse Silver Knights. They took their fans on a myriad of emotions throughout the year: from excitement, to frustration, then back to happiness, and ending with disappointment in missing out on the playoffs. The Silver Knights had a multitude of opportunities for that playoff run, but fell short on most of those occasions. Although their record was sub .500 (8-12, tied for 3rd in the Eastern Division), they had their fans at the War Memorial Oncenter on their feet. Let’s take a look at the season at a glance:
BEST WIN: On Feburary 17th, Syracuse headed into Baltimore behind the proverbial 8 ball: Win out, hope for some magic from Florida and Harrisburg, and that second playoff spot would be theirs. Over the years, Syracuse has had some hard luck playing at the Royal Farms Arena, but with the added pressure of a possible playoff berth, the Knights needed to pull out all the stops. The night before the Blast dominated the Knights, but this night belonged to Syracuse. Led by Kenardo Forbes, and Slavisa Ubiparapovic, the Knights defeated the Blast 7-2. What is more impressive is that the Knights outscored the Blast 4-0 in the final three quarters, thanks in part to the resurgence of Brian O’Quinn in goal.
WORST LOSS: On December 18th, Syracuse came into Chicago with quite a bit of momentum, after beating the high octane Milwaukee Wave 6-3 the night before. And after three quarters of this game, it seemed the Knights were poised to sweep the weekend series against the Central Division, but they let a 6-2 lead slip away and hit rock bottom in the fourth quarter. Chicago went on an 8-1 run, scoring six of those goals in the final five minutes to win 10-7. Syracuse looked lost defensively, and Chicago made them pay.
TEAM MVP: You could name several players that deserve team MVP, such as Antonio Manfut, Slavisa Ubiparapovic, and Moises Gonzalez. But, my vote goes to Kenardo Forbes. Kenardo led the team with 21 assists, and contributed 21 goals, for a team leading 42 points.
GOAL OF THE YEAR: In the Knights 7-2 victory against the Baltimore Blast on February 17th, Moises Gonzalez converted on an incredible bicycle kick at the top of the arc, dropping the ball right over the head of William Vanzela, during the third quarter of this game.
WHAT’S NEXT: Coach Ryan Hall and GM Tommy Tanner will need to focus on defense during free agency, as this was their downfall during the season. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nelson Santana decided to come back to Syracuse, where he played several seasons with them, and is still a fan favorite.
IN A NUTSHELL: Syracuse showed the MASL what it could do when firing on all cylinders. They also showed the MASL that games aren’t decided until the final buzzer.