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Syracuse men’s lacrosse vs. Georgetown: A rivalry missed

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The Orange and Hoyas played for 19 consecutive seasons before the move to the ACC disrupted the series.

Colgate v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

If you’re a Syracuse fan of a certain age, you remember it well.

The rivalry. The hatred. The fights, both physical and verbal. The blood spilled and, more recently, the teeth lost.

Alright, so that was actually based on the much more famously intense men’s basketball rivalry between Syracuse and Georgetown, but it could have one day applied to the lacrosse field, as well.

The Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas were still in the burgeoning stages of their lacrosse series back in 2013 when it all got shut down thanks to SU’s departure from the Big East for the greener pastures of the ACC.

At that time, the Orange and Hoyas had played every season from 1995-2013; 22 games over the course of 19 seasons, with the Orange holding a 17-5 advantage. Even in a lopsided series, they were building the foundation for a rivalry to join the likes of their men’s basketball counterparts.

But these things take time. They didn’t have the advantage of the formation of the Big East to light a fire like men’s basketball did. They didn't play a series of epic championship games to kick-start the rivalry like men’s lacrosse did with Johns Hopkins. They were doing it the old fashioned way: by building it up over time.

And it was working. In the first nine games of the series that spanned 1995-2001, the average margin of victory between the teams was 5.4 goals per game. Not one final score got closer than three goals. In the final 13 games from 2002-2013, the margin of victory got more than cut in half down to 2.2 goals per game. 11 of the 13 games were decided by three or fewer goals, with five one-goal games and two decided in OT. The intensity and closeness was picking up major steam, and the Big East lacrosse conference was even formed in 2010 to add a little extra to the mix.

And then, the decision makers showed that they had other priorities in mind. SU left for the ACC, and with that move the Syracuse-Georgetown series was extinguished in men’s lacrosse.

Until Sunday’s selection show, that is.

The bracket revealed Syracuse and No. 5-seeded Georgetown to be first round opponents for a 7:30 Saturday night, primetime battle in College Park, Md.

It’s a fantastic setup for the first game in the series since 2013. I mean, what better way to rekindle the matchup than in the NCAA tournament?

They’ve done it before; three times to be exact. Syracuse has won all three prior postseason meeting between the teams in 1999, 2000 and 2004, respectively. It won’t be so easy this time.

This Georgetown team went 12-2 and won the Big East tournament for the third time in a row. Yes, they played an easier schedule than SU to get there, but the bottom line is this team is talented on offense, and tough on defense. Like it or not, fair or not, the Orange are underdogs coming into this game.

The objective this Saturday has nothing to do with the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry born on the basketball court. It’s simply to win; win and advance. The Hoyas just happen to be the team standing in the way of that. For the guys taking the field this Saturday, the opponent will mean little. Most of them were in middle school back when these schools last met in 2013 anyway.

But what we have here this weekend is two teams with the exact same goal, and only one with the ability to accomplish it. Beat the other.

A postseason meeting with the season on the line might be the ticket to lighting that fire once more. It might just be the thing we need to be reminded of what Syracuse vs. Georgetown can mean, of what it can be.

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