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Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse releases 2017 schedule

After losing in the Final Four to Maryland last year, Syracuse has built one of its toughest schedules yet for the 2017 season.

The Syracuse women’s lacrosse team released their 2017 schedule today and it is packed with talented opponents. Of the 18 regular season games, 14 are against teams that played in last year's NCAA tournament.

Head coach Gary Gait is known for putting together a tough schedule for the Orange because he believes it helps them when it comes to the ACC & NCAA tournaments. But this year Gait believes this is the hardest schedule anyone in the nation has ever seen.

"This is the most competitive schedule in the history of women’s lacrosse," Gait said. "If you want to be the best you have to play the best. The regular season will help prepare us for what we will see in the postseason."

Gait’s philosophy of "play the best to be the best" has paid off in the past for Syracuse. They have made it to the Final Four for five consecutive years now.

But it’s going to be a tough year for SU after losing key offensive players like Kayla Treanor and Halle Majorana to graduation.

Here’s the 2017 schedule, using Inside Lacrosse's 2017 Top-20 Preseason Rankings.

Team Date Location
#17 Boston College Feb. 11 Syracuse, NY
Canisius Feb. 18 Syracuse, NY
Binghamton Feb. 18 Syracuse, NY
#13 Massachusetts Feb. 25 Syracuse, NY
Albany Feb. 27 Syracuse, NY
#10 Northwestern Mar. 3 Hempstead, NY
#12 Virginia Mar. 5 Syracuse, NY
#2 Maryland Mar. 11 College Park, MD
#3 Florida Mar. 14 Gainesville, FL
Harvard Mar. 18 Winter Park, FL
#8 Notre Dame Mar. 26 Syracuse, NY
#16 Princeton Mar. 29 Princeton, NJ
#9 Duke Apr. 2 Durham, NC
#20 Loyola Apr. 5 Baltimore, MD
Virginia Tech Apr. 9 Syracuse, NY
#1 North Carolina Apr. 15 Chapel Hill, NC
#14 Cornell Apr. 18 Syracuse, NY
Louisville Apr. 22 Louisville, KY

Gary Gait isn't lying when he says this is the hardest schedule in the history of women's lacrosse. The Orange play 11 teams that are ranked in the preseason top-20 by Inside Lacrosse. To make it even more difficult, they play their toughest competition -- Maryland, Florida, Duke and North Carolina -- on the road. Let's spotlight some key games this season.

Maryland & Florida - These are back-to-back road games for the Orange against top-five opponents, ranked two and three respectively. To make matters harder for the Orange, the games are only three days apart. Sure Maryland lost Taylor Cummings, but the Orange also lost Treanor. And if you've seen this Maryland team play, they have extreme depth. The Terps will have no shortage of talent with the likes of Megan Whittle and Zoe Stuckenberg. And Florida is just as dominant on offense. Florida beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last year 11-10. This is going to be the two hardest back-to-back games for SU this season.

Boston College - Syracuse needs to get on track early and they start with a team that has given them headaches in the past. The Eagles beat Syracuse last year 13-8, but then lost to the Orange in the first round of the ACC tournament 16-11. Although it will be an extremely early indication of this team, it will be important to see how SU operates against such a sound defense. Don't brush this game off just because BC is ranked 18th. They have been a thorn in the side of Syracuse for years and they aren't going away anytime soon.

North Carolina - The reigning champions. They beat Syracuse twice last year, each time by only a single goal. In both of those games, Syracuse blew a three-goal lead in the second half. UNC is extremely dangerous and is bringing back three of their top four goal scorers like Molly Hendricks, who led the team with 59 goals and Sammy Jo Tracy, a dominant draw specialist who also recorded 42 goals. This contest will be played at Chapel Hill and it's a good thing it's late in the schedule so Syracuse can get their bearings before facing this lacrosse titan.

Harvard - Not too much a game to watch for, but it has a great storyline. Treanor is now an assistant coach at Harvard so this will be her first encounter with the Orange where she finds herself on the opposing sideline.

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What sticks out to you as you glance over the SU women's lacrosse schedule?