The question for Syracuse lacrosse this season has changed from “will they get bored?” to “will the Army upset happen again?” You don’t get bored in the NCAA Tournament, but the shocking loss to the Knights last year still hangs over this team. The Orange were in lull this season, surviving and advancing through the early part of their schedule (including some impressive wins, but not many dominant performances) and eventually losing to Cornell. Since the Big Red, SU has been on fire. The Orange is averaging 14 goals over those last 5 games including a 20-spot over St. Johns in the season finale.
Syracuse had nothing to prove in the regular season. Going undefeated would have meant nothing. Destroying teams by double digits (like SU has in three of the last five) means nothing. This group crashed last year when it lost to Army in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and was waiting for this Saturday the whole season.
As Dave Rahme says in his article for the Post-Standard:
“Ask the seniors on the Syracuse University lacrosse team to discuss their illustrious 59-7 record and they will flatly refuse. Ask them about their top seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and they will say it means nothing. Ask them about a potential rematch with Cornell in three weeks in the national title game and they will refuse to take the bait. Mention last season’s double-overtime loss to Army in the opening round of the Tournament, though – an upset that cost the Orange a shot at its third consecutive Division I national championship – and the words start flowing.”
Rahme is spot on. I’ve been in the press conferences where John Galloway deflects the questions about the records and his legacy with an even greater percentage than opposing shots. They have one thing on their mind: the Final Four.
Last year SU got caught up in the hype. Syracuse was clearly the best team. Eyes were on a third straight National Championship. For guys like Galloway, Joel White, and Stephen Keogh, it was all they had ever known. That class had won it all as just freshman and sophomores. The first-round wasn’t even on their minds, let alone losing in it.
With that loss as the backdrop of their season, there is no way the Desko Kids overlook Siena this weekend. There’s a tough matchup against either Maryland or UNC looming in the second round. But if Syracuse has proven anything this regular season, it’s not afraid of a challenge. Top-ranked Virginia? Victory Orange. Number one Notre Dame? Never had a chance, the 11-8 score in the SU win seemed far closer than the game actually was.
Orange fans can rest easy enough knowing their team is focused and ready to make a deep run, one game at a time.
Posted: Craig Hoffman