Looking at the Syracuse schedule, there is one stretch that stands out.
- 3/19 at #4 (Coaches Poll)/#6 (IL Ranking) Johns Hopkins Blue Jays
- 3/27 at #3/3 Duke Blue Devils
- 4/2 vs. #2/1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- 4/6 at Hobart Statesmen
Within a three-week period, the Syracuse Orange will take on, arguably, three of the top four teams in college lacrosse. As if that wasn't enough, SU will have a four-day turnaround and play a midweek, rivalry game against Hobart.
While every ACC team gets up for conference games, the Hopkins and Hobart games will be particularly difficult because of the emotional energy that those two opponents will evoke.
Hobart and Syracuse play for the Kraus-Simmons Trophy, and it is a battle that has raged since 1916. While the overall series record significantly favors SU over Hobart, don't forget, in 2013, a year in which Syracuse went to the National Championship game, Hobart beat the Orange. Since 2005, these two have played to one-goal games five times, including one overtime game.
While not as lengthy, the matchup versus Johns Hopkins has been as heated as any during its tenure. The Blue Jays hold a 27-25-1 edge in the series, but records and history don't matter for this one. In the eyes of most lacrosse fans, this is THE rivalry in college lacrosse, and it has produced some of the best games in the history of the sport.
Sandwiched in between these two rivals will be dates with Duke and Notre Dame. Right now, I'm chalking these two up as losses. We have a lot of questions with this Syracuse team in 2016, so it's entirely possible that the situation will change and we may end up with some positive surprises. Looking objectively right now though there are too many holes for the ‘Cuse, and the top of the ACC is too good to expect two, or even one, wins.
The nightmare scenario here is walking away from this four game stretch with zero wins. Yes, the Hobart game should be a win, but after getting beat up for three straight weeks and then down the road, midweek to Geneva, NY, we could see this Syracuse team spiral hard.
The best (most reasonable) case scenario includes a hard fought win at either Hopkins or Duke and a win at Hobart.
This will be a heck of a season, and a true challenge for a Syracuse team searching for an identity.