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Clash of the Titans: What’s At Stake When #3 Syracuse Travels to #1 Virginia

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While plenty has changed in college lacrosse since 1994, Syracuse vs. Virginia has not. Lax players have graduated from short shorts, competitive programs have sprouted out west, and SU’s John Desko is now coaching his son Tim.

The brutal rivalry between two of college lacrosse’s most prolific schools continues this weekend. Since ’94, SU and UVA have combined for an astonishing 10 national titles, and are two of only five schools to win it all in that time. These two teams, both decked out in orange and blue, have stamped themselves as the gold standard for excellence in college lax. This time #1 Virginia hosts #3 Syracuse, which serves a major benchmark for an Orange program lightly regarded coming into the season.
  • Proving Ground
The series between the teams is a dead heat at 12 wins apiece, but Syracuse has had success playing in Charlottesville’s Klockner Stadium. SU beat the Cavs at the Dome last year 12-10. Sunday is a chance for the Orange to notch back-to-back regular season wins against Virginia.
  • A Test of Will
Syracuse lost “tons” of starters last year, according to defensive captain Brian Megill.  Former goalie John Galloway is the obvious missing piece, but the Orange also lost the services of defenders John Lade and Joel White, and fan-legend Jovan Miller. The dominant storyline so far this season has been the battles to fill those shoes. While SU is filled with young talent, promising replacements like sophomore Derek Maltz and redshirt freshman Pete Macartney will face the biggest test of their short college careers this weekend. No matter what happens, we’re a long ways from Memorial Day. But a win for SU, in the middle of deciding position battles, would make a major statement about the guts and grit this team has. By Sunday night an underrated group of Syracuse youngsters could be a top 2 team in the nation, and have knocked off the country’s best team.
  • Who’s in net?
The Syracuse starting goalie debate still circulates around the practice facilities. In both games so far, sophomore Matt Lerman has started the first half, while sophomore Dom Lamolinara played the second. Lerman told The Fizz outright he deserves the job, but Lamolinara is confident in whatever Coach’s decision is.
“I dont know what they’re going to do. I know two goalies isn’t typically what happens, and I know this isn’t going to last the whole year. At the same time, I just want to win games. If they feel Lerm is going to do that, that’s fine. If it’s going to be me, I’m going to do my best. I came here to win a championship, and that’s what I want to do.  I want to graduate with a ring. If Lerm gives it to me, that’s great, and if I get one for him, I think we’ll both be happy.”
Both goalies have dismissed the idea the uncertainty could be unsettling to their defenders. Based on the record, the rest of the team has managed pretty well.  However, it’s not the perfect situation to be traveling to #1 UVA without knowing who will be the last line of defense. If both goalies see time again, they’ll be seeing shots from Steele Stanwick, the reigning Tewaaraton champion (college lax’s most outstanding player). S2 had 38 goals and 32 assists for 70 points last year. This year’s Cavs team is averaging over 14 goals per game, while SU has tallied 11 per.

 

SU and UVA renew the best rivalry in college lax. If Syracuse can pull off the W, it will be a major wake-up call to the rest of the nation – the Orange is once again staking its rightful spot atop the mountain.

 

Posted: Jake Moskowitz

 

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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