Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse isn’t used to postseason failure. This is a program that made every Final Four weekend from 1983 to 2004. The Orange have 11 national titles and 27 Final Fours to their name.
However, by their standards, Syracuse is in the midst of a historic postseason drought. The Orange have failed to make the last six Final Fours, with the last Syracuse trip to Memorial Day weekend coming in 2013. The Orange finished as runners up that year, losing to Duke in the national championship.
Ever since then, Syracuse has struggled in the postseason. The 2014 season saw Syracuse shockingly fall in the first round to Bryant. In 2015, it was a similar shocking exit to Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals. Then in 2016, SU got crushed by eventual runner-ups Maryland in the quarters.
The 2017 and 2018 campaigns featured Orange upset losses to Towson in the quarterfinals and Cornell in the first round. In 2019, Syracuse couldn’t keep up with Pat Spencer in the first round. Without a postseason in 2020, no one will ever know if that was the season that the Orange could break free from their recent postseason struggles (even if TNIAAM hung a banner for that team all the same).
Syracuse is still looking for its first national title since the 2009 classic over Cornell. However, the Orange have struggled to make it back to the final weekend of the season ever since joining the ACC. The 2014, 2015, and 2017 teams were Syracuse’s best chances at breaking the Final Four drought, as all three of those rosters were the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s gone wrong for Syracuse in the postseason. The talent, especially in the early ACC days, has been there for the Orange squad. That is evident with the No. 2 seeds for those above teams. The last two normal regular seasons haven’t been kind to the Orange, however, as SU hasn’t had double-digit wins in a season since 2017.
Unfortunately, this year’s Syracuse squad doesn’t appear to be in the best position to get back to the Final Four. The Orange earned the unofficial 12-seed in this season’s tournament, which is Syracuse’s lowest since 2012. The Orange were the unofficial 14-seed that year, losing to Duke in the first round.
If Syracuse can get past No. 5 Georgetown, then there does appear to be a tangible path to the Final Four. The Orange would most likely face No. 4 Virginia in the quarterfinals, who Syracuse has beaten twice this season. Virginia is the only ACC team that the Orange have defeated this year, going 0-4 in the other matchups.
The catch is that Syracuse has to beat Georgetown. And as much as we like to say that the Hoyas still suck, this is not the same Hoyas team that the Orange are used to dominating. Georgetown leads the nation in assists with 144, and freshman attacker TJ Haley leads the nation in assists with 47. The Hoyas seem to be in prime position to attack Syracuse’s main weakness this season — off-ball defense.
However, if Syracuse does find a way past Georgetown, there seems to be a way for the Orange to get back to where it belongs.
Memorial Day weekend and the Final Four.