The zeitgeist tells me that Syracuse and Duke are sharing much of the same space lately. The Greg Paulus situation linked our schools in the news last week and this weekend the two schools will battle it out for the right to play in the NCAA Lacrosse National Championship.
It's the first meeting between the two schools since 2002, which doesn't seem that long ago until you remember it's 2009 and then you're like "holy crap, it's 2009 already!" And then you're like "holy crap, it's almost June. It'll be 2010 soon." And then you're like "Where has my life gone?" Right?
SU owns 4 wins against the Blue Devils against their lone win, which they got back in 1978.
Duke spent most of the season on the fringe of the top ten but immediately shot up to the top of the rankings late in the season after two wins over Virginia and by winning the ACC Tournament. The program is no stranger to top rankings, they were the #1 seed last year but lost in the Final Four, their third in four years.
Compared to the Orange, however, the Devils are still newbies. The Orange are making their 26th appearance in the Final Four, having gone 15-10 all-time. They're looking to advance to the Finals for the 2nd straight season, a feat they haven't accomplished since 2002....the last time they played Duke...hmmm...
In other lacrosse news, the USILA All-American team has been announced and there's many a Cuse player involved. Attackman Kenny Nims and Middle Matt Abbott check in on the first team, Defenseman Sid Smith is on the second team while Stephen Keogh, Dan Hardy, Joel White and John Lade all make the honorable-mention list. Would have thought John Galloway would have earned an honorable-mention as well, but he and the other three Final Four goalies are MIA.
Galloway, his understudy Cavalieri and the defense are a big reason why the Orange are even here in the first place.
The Orange (14-2) enter their NCAA tournament semifinal against Duke (15-3) with their best defensive numbers in 39 years. Syracuse is giving up 7.3 goals per game, the lowest since 1970. And opponents are noticing.
"When we got good looks the ball went in the cage," Maryland sophomore Grant Catalino said following an 11-6 loss Saturday. "But they made it tough to get good looks."
Don't forget about the face-off specialists, the unsung heroes of lacrosse. Jake Moulton and Gavin Jenkinson are splitting time at the X and although there have been struggles, things have improved recently. Unfortunately, Duke is pretty solid at the X, with a .543 winning percentage.
It's the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four and that means the annual "lacrosse is expanding!" article is out. Living in LA, I can attest that lacrosse is indeed a bi-coastal sport these days. There's a big field near my house where lacrosse sticks are just as prevalent as soccer balls and the kids at the school near my office are in full lax gear daily. That said, it's now up to the "2nd tier programs" like Ohio State, Denver, Air Force and Notre Dame to maintain higher levels of success so that the collegiate level of the game is raised and continues to move West.
Finally, in case you missed it, SU middie Matt Abbott chatted with ESPN yesterday about the upcoming Final Four. There were two notable folks, celebrities if you will, that didn't miss the opportunity to chat it up with the All-American:
#1. I didn't realize Dorsey was such a big lax fan.
#2. Honestly, I don't know which of them is more of a celebrity. To me, at least.
#3. Didn't know they had WiFi at Dewey's. Just one more reason to go, I suppose...