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Schizophrenic Syracuse: Which Orange Team Will Show Up in Tourney?

It was a tale of two halves in South Bend as SU was handed another conference loss.

In Syracuse’s 8-6 loss to 3rd-ranked Notre Dame over the weekend, SU was blanked at halftime for the first time this season. By the end of the game, the #17 Orange had signed the dotted line on one of the most disappointing regular seasons (7-7, 3-3)  in school history.

The ride to South Bend must have been awfully comfortable, because SU was still been asleep through the first two quarters. The effort was absent, there was zero urgency, and the compete level of a team whose tournament hopes are on life support was far too low.

In the second half, John Desko apparently put his team through a fortune-telling machine like Tom Hanks in Big. A team that had played like a disappointed 12-year-old was a fully-grown man after halftime.

For the final 30 minutes, Syracuse had energy, physicality, and will to win. SU won over 50% of face-off battles (where it has really struggled), picked up a lot of ground balls, and scored 6 times. JoJo Marasco stepped up with two goals and an assist. Syracuse managed all of this against Notre Dame goalie John Kemp, one of the best in the nation and a Tewaaraton finalist.

It became apparent SU lax has a severe case of multiple personalities disorder. The lacrosse it played in the second half is capable of winning the Big East tournament and getting the AQ to the NCAAs. Unfortunately, the Orange needs to find a way to play that brand of ball for 60 minutes. 

Andrew Kanell, who has been one of WAER’s primary voices for SU lax this season, said on a recent FizzCast, “when one guy shows up for SU, another becomes a ghost.” Derek Maltz, Syracuse’s proven offensive weapon, did absolutely nothing for the entire game. The same goes for striker Tommy Palasek, who had a lone assist. On the defensive end, the Brian Megill-led zone seemed slow, confused, and porous for the first thirty minutes. These are all mishaps that cannot happen in a Big East tournament that SU must win.

In a way, Notre Dame (11-1, 6-0) is an advantageous regular season finale opponent. With four teams slotted into the Big East tournament at Villanova this week, it’s likely the top-seeded Irish will beat 4-seed St. John’s handily. Having come within two goals of an upset on Saturday makes it a bit easier for the 3rd-seeded Orange to go toe-to-toe with ND in the finals as the Committee looks on.

As 4-time All-American defender Ric Beardsley said on Fizz Radiodon’t expect that committee to make any apologies for a disappointing .500 showing in the regular season. Even with losses to tough opponents like Virginia and Hopkins, breathing room will be scarce for a school that coldly stomped out all competition for three decades.

The lacrosse power brokers in Baltimore can’t be counted on for a ticket to the big dance, so that means Syracuse will have to fight for two hard-earned wins in the conference tournament. As Orange title hopes hang in limbo, one question remains unanswered: which version of the Orange will show up on Wednesday at Villanova?

Posted: Jake Moskowitz

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