February 21, 2014

Weekender: Dickinson's Complicated Sudah Brothers

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Slay Sudah (above) earned third team All-American honors last year and has been a rock for the Red Devils since he arrived in Carlisle. He and his d-middie brother, Ace, make up a third of Dickinson's backline. (James Rasp)

If one simply went by how they act on the basketball court, it would be easy to get the wrong impression about the Sudah brothers, the standout defenders on the Dickinson men's lacrosse team.

Suleiman, who goes by the nickname "Slay," and Issa – known as "Ace" – Sudah are juniors and key players on the Red Devils' back seven, but hoops is their game, and they show it during the offseason. The Dickinson lacrosse team has 3-on-3 tournaments in the fall and winter, and it is always the Sudahs who are playing in the championship game.

Against each other.

"Those two are incredibly competitive with each other," said Dickinson head coach Dave Webster. "Watching those match-ups has been fun."

The older guys on the team have seen the Sudahs go at it before, but for the younger members of the Red Devils lacrosse team, it's an eye-opening experience.

"That league is no joke," Slay said. "A lot of kids, especially freshmen, come in and they think it is a fun, shoot-around time. We grew up playing basketball and we were the little annoying point guards who played full court defense against everybody. We bring it to the 3-on-3 league with the lacrosse team and everybody gets upset wondering why we are going so hard, but that's how we were brought up."

And when the brothers eventually tangle head-to-head, it is a spectacle.

"It ends up turning into heated arguments and just getting mad at each other," said Ace, who claims his brother asks him not to guard him. "The other guys on the team love it because they love seeing me and Slay going at it. Any time we go at it, it's a battle. And he's 30 pounds heavier and two inches taller, but I try to make it a good fight. Everyone thinks it's going to be a nice pick-up game."

The brothers appear very different off the basketball court, as well. Although they comprise two-thirds of a set of triplets – sister Sabrina is a cheerleader for the men's basketball team at Loyola (Md.) – they have completely different body types. And each has his own approach to social settings.

Slay is quieter and slightly more high strung. He has immersed himself in his pre-med major – in which he carries a 4.0 grade point average – and will be taking the MCATs this May. He took the initiative to start a study group with other Dickinson athletes with medical ambitions to prepare for the standardized test.

"Slay is a little bit more serious at all times than me," Ace said. "He's constantly thinking about the future. He is always pressed for time and sometimes he gets stressed out."

"If you get to know me, I'm outgoing, but I always have a ton of stuff on my plate, so it could seem like I'm a little more reserved at times," admitted Slay. "There is a lot of studying going on in order for me to get on top of lacrosse and all the things that I do, so it seems like I'm a lot more busy than he is."

Ace is pursuing a double-major in international finance and economics and he is certainly on top of his studies, but he partakes in the fruits of the college experience more than his brother.

Ace Sudah (above) is smaller and shorter than his brother, but he's a tenacious defensive midfielder for the Red Devils. And he's not afraid to go head-to-head with his larger brother on the basketball court. (James Rasp)

"Slay is an ambitious student and has his goals very clearly defined," added Webster. "Ace is a very strong student, as well, but a little more sociable. Ace has a different approach to things, if you will."

"I know what I'm going to do with my future, but I like to enjoy myself whether it's heading out with friends or watching a movie," Ace said. "I like keeping conversations with people and I like to always know what's going on. That's where I'm different from Slay."

When it came to lacrosse, they also followed different paths.

Both brothers first picked it up in eighth grade after playing primarily football and basketball to that point. Slay, the bigger of the two, immediately took to being a long pole, becoming a starter as a sophomore for St. Joseph's (N.J.) High School, which advanced to the state title game that year. Ace, faster and more wiry, had trouble getting comfortable with the sport with his developing stick skills. As such, he gave up lacrosse to run track his sophomore year.

Watching his brother's success – along with the tedious nature of running all afternoon – Ace returned to the sport, and he found his spot as a short-stick defensive middie. While Slay was getting Division I looks with his dominant play at close defense, Ace started turning some heads on the recruiting trails over his last two prep seasons. They both found what they were looking for academically and athletically at Dickinson.

And it is watching them on the lacrosse field where one gets a true sense of their relationship, which is very strong and very close. They communicate easily in verbal and non-verbal ways, and since they comprise a third of Dickinson's defensive unit, it helps with the overall cohesion.

"I know when he's at X and he's going to turn a defender," Ace said of his brother. "If I'm the low-side middie I can go double the ball. Obviously our coaches don't really like that because they don't want to slide to Slay, but if the opportunity presents itself around the goal line, I'll go double the ball and win the ground ball. I know his tendencies and I know what he wants to do with his stick."

"I'm not the one sliding, but when Ace is on ball, I know where he is going to drive the guy just based off his footwork," Slay said. "I'll tell Draper [Donley], who is our hot slide, that when he's on the ball you don't really have to worry about going unless he tries to beat the guy to the spot so he'll roll back. I know when that's coming, which helps out because if he's forcing the kid to the same side, I can come up for a double. Little things like that I pick up on."

Dickinson's defense was on point in the season opener, holding Lycoming to just 11 shots on goal in a 17-4 victory. Ace scored a goal in the win while Slay had a ground ball and a caused turnover in limited minutes. They'll get more of a test when they face No. 16 St. Mary's in Brooklandville, Md., on Saturday.

The Sudahs will be ready for the Seahawks, and ready to back each other's play.

"We're both real protective of our sister and each other, and that's why we wanted to go to the same school," Slay said. "If you have problems, you always want someone you can talk to. We understand each other really well, as you can imagine. Physically, people notice that I'm taller and a lot bigger than him, but we're not really different apart from how we look."

At least until basketball season starts again.

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