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Syracuse Lacrosse: Virginia Preview, Part Deux

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The Syracuse Orange will travel to Charlottesville, VA for the first round of the ACC Tournament to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.

2011 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship - Championship Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The ACC Tournament will kick off at 6 PM Friday in Charlottesville, VA. The first game will feature the Duke Blue Devils and Notre Dame Fighting Irish with the Syracuse Orange and Virginia Cavaliers slated for 8:30 PM.

If we are being completely honest, I have zero interest in watching Notre Dame play. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. It’s a boring brand of lacrosse that I don’t enjoy, but I think Duke will handle them pretty well.

This is the first time in a few years that the ACC Tournament has returned to campus sites. Currently it is in the first year of a campus rotation, with Syracuse not scheduled to host until at least 2020. Because Jim Boeheim pissed off Greensboro, NC.

As a slight aside, Sam Blum who’s name you may recall as a former Daily Orange writer wrote a tremendous piece on Dom Starsia, loyalty, and his relationship with UVA. Took it in a few weeks back, highly recommend.

The last time SU and UVA met, the Orange walked away with a one goal win. It was a physical game in which the SU defense showed up consistently for the first time all year. The most memorable moment of the day however, came after the final horn in a series of events which led to Nate Solomon and Zach Ambrosino earning themselves each a suspension. I can’t imagine there isn’t some bad blood between the two squads so if nothing else, this may get personal for a few guys.

Also lost in that Syracuse game was stud midfielder Ryan Conrad, but Michael Kraus has certainly made up for the hole with a 71 point season. All in all, UVA has three players with 30 plus points, putting that in perspective Syracuse has one player with more than 20 goals. This has been a year in which SU has needed different players to step up in different games. There is no Mariano or Salcido or Rice or Donahue….no consistent alpha. In the regular season game against Virginia back in March, it was Tucker Dordevic stepping up with four goals. However, if we’re being honest this year’s regular season game between SU and UVA was less about Syracuse and more about Virginia. The Cavaliers found new ways to turn the ball over all day and ended the game with 19 giveaways.

One thing to watch is the groundball game. Back in March, the Orange actually did a great job battling in the dirt against the Hoos, but UVA has solidified itself as one of the best GB teams in the nation, leading all division 1 programs in groundballs per game.

At the faceoff X, Justin Schwenk is going to have do to better than the eight for 21 he posted the first time around. The former Monmouth FOGO is first in the ACC in faceoff percentage but got bested by Danny Varello.

Defensively there’s not much to write home about. Scott Hooper continues to be the anchor to this group and saddled next to Kyle Kology, the freshman walk-on who nobody wanted but has made a huge impact. Zach Ambrosino was suspended and then injured and now it appears he is back and should be in the game on Friday. At times it has felt like this program was subconsciously scapegoating its goalie corps, and at times that may be the right direction for the finger to point, but there is no arguing that the defense is a mess. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from their freshman goalie Alex Rode and I would stick with him in net, but I’m a big believer in creating mental stability for young goalies.

At the end of the day I think Duke beats Virginia in the finals, but it’s closer than their regular season game.

The Syracuse Orange will take on the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday at 8:30 PM in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The game can be seen on ESPNU.