Syracuse lacrosse is supposed to be the premier program in the country. With 11 national championships in the NCAA era, SU is lacrosse’s version of Alabama football or Duke basketball.
After two tumultuous years, one in 2021 that ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament and featured plenty of storylines, almost all of them negative. Then came a statistical rock bottom in 2022, with the Orange finishing 4-10, their first double digit loss season in program history.
This year was supposed to be the beginning of the rebound. Syracuse had the number one recruiting class in the nation, led by Joey Spallina, the number one player in the country and a consensus generational-type prospect.
Now, Syracuse has a chance to truly establish itself as “back.” SU beat then-No.15 Princeton Saturday to secure its first win over a ranked opponent this year after hanging tough against Maryland, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame (for 3 and ⅓ quarters), but ultimately falling short.
That win over Princeton catapulted Syracuse back into the rankings and sets up an opportunity for the Orange. At 7-5, Gary Gait and company need one more win to secure an over .500 record and postseason eligibility. SU’s three remaining games are against No. 11 North Carolina, No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke.
Winning two of those games likely gets the Orange into the tournament, and winning one gives them a shot. That’s the beauty of where this team is right now. After the darkest period maybe in program history, certainly in the last half-century, Syracuse has a chance.
This team is young and undoubtedly has a bright future with players like Spallina, Finn Thomson, Billy Dwan and plenty of others leading the way. But, forget about the future for a second. The Orange have three playoff games in front of them before the actual playoffs start. As a fan, this is one of the most enjoyable scenarios you can ask for.
The pressure isn’t high because you know if it doesn’t all come together this year, it probably will soon. Instead of stressing, fans can enjoy this. It’s almost as if the program is playing with the house’s money. So, have fun when you watch Saturday’s game against North Carolina. Allow yourself to feel the excitement of a big game again. It’s been a while, and the best part is this is just the beginning for this core group of players.