Still, Simmons was impressed enough that he gave Casey number 22, the jersey worn for the Orangemen not only by Gary Gait but also by Charlie Lockwood, another All-America, who played from 1991 to '94.
Casey was an instant sensation, leading the '95 national championship team in scoring as a freshman and earning first team All-America honors the following year. In an NCAA quarterfinal game last spring, Loyola coach Dave Cottle dispatched a slew of defenders to throttle Casey, preventing him from scoring a goal for only the fourth time in his collegiate career. Casey's riposte: eight assists, which tied an NCAA tournament record, in a 13-12 win. Says Maryland coach Dick Edell, " Casey Powell is the best player in the world."
Ryan bolstered his schoolboy credentials during Casey's first two seasons at Syracuse, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to join his brother in college or set out on his own. Ryan had been the backup quarterback to Casey on Carthage Central High's football team, and he also had relieved Casey at point guard on the basketball team. As for lacrosse, Ryan recalls, "The newspaper articles wouldn't even say my name first. They'd say, 'Casey's brother, Ryan, scored two goals.' But my ultimate goal is to win a national championship, and that's why I came here. I knew I'd be in his shadow, but I think I've learned to accept it very well. My junior and senior year I'll be ready to take over."
Last year, as a freshman, he started at midfield in all 14 of the Orangemen's games and was an honorable mention All-America. Syracuse finished with a 11-3 record but was eliminated 18-17 by Maryland in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. Ryan has had an even bigger impact this season as an attackman. He had a career-high six assists in the season finale, a crucial 14-11 victory over No. 8 Georgetown. No one would blame Ryan, though, if he thought he was playing inside a George Orwell novel, given the way Big Brother is always watching. "If Casey sees Ryan letting down just an inch, he rides him pretty hard," says redshirt freshman Robby Mulligan, a reserve goalie.
"He always thinks he's right," Ryan says. "If Coach tells me to do something, and Casey wants me to do something else, Casey will still get on my case."
Ryan has a specific instance in mind here, but Casey doesn't buy it. "Coach didn't tell you to throw that ball out-of-bounds," he says with a smirk.
These days the kids in upstate New York pretend they're the Powells, and just like the Gaits before them, Casey and Ryan will not leave a game until every autograph is signed. The Powells arrived officially on April 26, when public address announcer Carl Eilenberg surprised the brothers during player introductions by calling them out together before a home game against Massachusetts, saying, "From West Carthage, New York, a pair of Powells...." As their mother, Sue, teared up in the stands, Casey and Ryan looked at each other and had the same thought: just like the Gaits.
Actually, the Powell brothers might give Syracuse a dimension that even the Gaits couldn't provide. Mike Powell is a 15-year-old sophomore at Carthage Central who handles a lacrosse stick with more aplomb than his brothers did at the same age. "The reason I recruited Casey and Ryan is so I could get Mike," Simmons says with a wry grin.
Says Casey, "We call Mike 'Smalls' because he's only five-four, but once he grows, he's going to be phenomenal. He's facing a lot of pressure from being our little brother. It doesn't really bother him, but he's got some big shoes to fill."