There was a sneaking suspicion heading into Sunday's showdown between the No. 3 Syracuse Orange and No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers that the Orange would simply be unable to keep up with the defending champs.
Instead, it was the Cavs who had to play catch-up, though catch-up they did, erasing a two-goal halftime deficit by turning on the goal-scoring boosters in the second-half to win 14-10.
Dave Rahme says that despite the loss, the Orange did not seem defeated. At least not in the sense of a team that realized they did not belong. And Virginia coach Dom Starsia agreed.
"Syracuse is going to be a very different team a month from now," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "I think in the years we’ve won championships we’ve lost this game three out of those four years. So, somebody asked me what the result means, and frankly I think the result is meaningless in a lot of ways. I prefer to win the game, you know, but in the bigger picture I don’t think it changes either team too much."
Sophomore Derek Maltz scored a career-high five points (3 goals, 2 assists) and Tim Desko scored three goals, including a requisite crazy one that went between his legs. However, the Orange were undone by their old friend, Faceoff Woes. SU went 8-for-28 (28.6 percent) at the X.
It's the kind of loss that stings but is easier to walk away from than, say, losing to Villanova or Loyola. This is a team that the Orange might not be able to beat right now, but this experience might be the difference-maker if and when they meet again in the NCAA Tournament.
The Inside Lacrosse Polls are out and both reflect how well SU played and how little this loss does to damage their reputation.
In the Media Poll, the 2-1 Orange remained at No. 6. Virginia is obviously No. 1, followed by Hopkins, Cornell, Maryland, and UMass.
The Coaches Poll is a bit of a mess so far this season. The Orange started at, like, 8, moved quickly up to 6, then rocketed up to 3 and now head back down to 6. The top five is Virginia, Hopkins, Cornell, Maryland and UMass.
Next up for the Orange is a bit of a breather. SU opens Big East play on Saturday, March 10 at St. John’s (2-1). Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at DaSilva Memorial Field.