With Gary scoring five goals and Paul three, Syracuse opened the current season by thrashing defending national champion Johns Hopkins 19-7. The Orange followed that up with a 12-11 overtime win over North Carolina. Since then only Rutgers, which fell 12-9, has come within eight goals of Syracuse. "This is perhaps the best-balanced squad I've coached," says Simmons. "Our defense is solid, and lots of people can score. We're getting tougher because opponents worry about the Gaits, and our other guys are able to do more."
As opponents concentrate on shutting down the twins, both brothers—Gary, especially—have started to dish off more. "Defenses are running up to meet our line at midfield now," says Gary. "They're collapsing on me right away, so I'm getting others into the action. If I have two guys on me, then I know someone's free and I just toss the ball." In Syracuse's regular-season finale, Massachusetts tried to smother Gary from the opening face-off. He scored only three of Syracuse's 23 goals, but Paul had six.
"I don't think they're the kind of players you can stop," says Hopkins's All-America defenseman, Dave Pietramala, who, if the seedings are accurate, will get another opportunity at the Gaits in the NCAA title game. And, as if Syracuse needs any advantages, the semis and final will be held over Memorial Day weekend in its Carrier Dome.
"And, really, the only good game we played was the first one, against Hopkins," says Paul. Gary interrupts: "We were totally psyched for that, and we haven't been totally psyched since. There'll be no problem getting totally psyched for the tournament games." Again Paul finishes the thought: "It's not our nation, really, but it is the national championship."