Whatever it was that led Syracuse attackman Stephen Rehfuss to enter his name in the transfer portal in December, then withdraw it a month later, he's not interested in talking about it much.
At least, not with the media.
"I was just dealing with some stuff with the University," Rehfuss said Thursday during a scheduled Zoom session with local reporters. "Being the sixth year, and it being my last possible chance to play [college lacrosse], was just looking for a backup option. But, everything is good now with the school, and I'm more than happy to be back."
Rehfuss declined to provide any details on exactly what "stuff" he was dealing with, issuing the standard, "no comment" response to two further questions. But, according to several reports, he and some of his teammates faced potential disciplinary action from SU because of an apparent violation of COVID-19 safety protocols. With his final season at Syracuse somewhat in jeopardy, the sixth-year senior had to see entering the portal as a precautionary measure.
However, according to an Inside Lacrosse report, the players received a favorable ruling from the school in late January, clearing the way for Rehfuss to return. The four-time ACC Honor Roll recipient says that was his hope, all along.
"Although there was a little questioning whether or not I would be coming back, I always felt like I was going to," said Stephen, who already has two degrees from SU and is working on a third. "Always planned on coming back, so, I'm definitely ready to go."
Call it a second chance, or even a third for the Albany native, who redshirted his freshman year at Holy Cross before coming to the 'Cuse. As an added bonus, Rehfuss was also voted a co-captain for the 2021 season by his teammates, who rolled out the welcome mat for last season's assist leader. And nobody's celebrating more than one of his classmates and fellow captains, Peter Dearth, who arrived at Syracuse alongside Rehfuss all the way back in 2017, and who wasn't ready to see him leave yet.
"We're extremely excited to have the leader, and captain, and teammate that Steve is," gushed Dearth, who's become the first three-time captain in program history. "Out of respect for Steve, I'm probably not going to talk too much about that situation, but obviously, he's still here. And I think the team couldn't be more excited."
Both Dearth and Rehfuss, who'll turn 23 and 24, respectively, this May, are eager to make one last run at a national championship. Last season, the top-ranked Orange may have been on their way to the program's 12th title before COVID hit. With guys like themselves back, along with fifth-year senior goalie Drake Porter, and arguably the nation's top midfield, even a first Final Four trip since 2013 may not be enough.
"Everyone comes to Syracuse to win a national championship," said Dearth, who's voluntarily moving to the defensive midfield this season. "We don't try to talk about it too much, but ultimately, we'd be extremely disappointed if, at the end of the year, we weren't having a ring around our fingers and holding that trophy."
"I think, since I've been here, this is probably the most talented team, top to bottom, and the most complete team that's played together," added Rehfuss. "I think it's always been 'national championship or bust', and this year's definitely no different."