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The Orange opened their season with a dominant offensive performance in the debut of coaches Gary Gait and Dave Pietramala, and they defeated unranked Holy Cross, scoring 28 goals in the process. The offensive onslaught was the best SU has recorded since its win over Hobart on April 6, 1994.
But after playing the Crusaders, who finished at No. 62 in NCAA’s final rankings last year, No. 9 Syracuse faces No. 1 Maryland in the Carrier Dome on Sunday. The Terrapins have scored at least 20 goals in their two wins this season, and they have only allowed a combined 21.
Here’s what our beat writers expect when Syracuse (1-0) faces Maryland (2-0):
Alex Cirino (1-0)
Maryland 16, Syracuse 13
Gait’s coaching debut couldn’t have kicked off any better. Syracuse scored its most goals since 1994, led by a 19-goal first half against Holy Cross. Four players managed at least three goals as the Orange kicked off the season with the statement win they needed after their first-round exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
But Maryland was just two goals away from winning the national title, and it has been bumped to the top of Inside Lacrosse’s rankings. While Syracuse was able to score goals for fun against Holy Cross and win 26 faceoffs, the Terrapins certainly won’t make it that easy on the Orange. It’s hard to say how much SU’s defense has improved under Pietramala, but in its first real test against Maryland, the Orange won’t be able to keep up and will drop their first game of the season.
Roshan Fernandez (1-0)
On a different level
Maryland 18, Syracuse 14
Syracuse couldn’t have done much more last week when it beat up Holy Cross 28-5. The first glimpse of the offense without Stephen Rehfuss (graduation) and Owen Hiltz (injury) was quite the sight — in particular, Tucker Dordevic’s behind-the-back goal was a must-see. SU had 13 different goalscorers, and the defense looked so solid that there were times I was wondering if maybe it should let up so that new goalies Bobby Gavin and Harrison Thompson could receive more of a test (spoiler alert, Pietramala would never).
The Holy Cross win was fun, but now it’s down to business against No. 1 Maryland. The Terps have already won two games — convincingly — against 2021 NCAA Tournament teams. They lost Tewaaraton Award winner Jared Bernhardt and are still producing with incredible offensive efficiency (41 goals on 84 possessions). The Orange looked good last week, but I don’t think they’re in Maryland’s league right now. And if SU does prove me wrong, in convincing fashion, I don’t think I’ll pick against Syracuse for the rest of the season.
Anish Vasudevan (1-0)
Close, but not close enough
Maryland 17, Syracuse 15
The changes to Syracuse’s strategies offensively and defensively were perfectly displayed against Holy Cross. But the win over the Crusaders might make some of the Orange players settle against Maryland, even though Gait said the team knows its toughest competition is coming in the upcoming weeks. Still, Gait said the latest chemistry offensively was “on full display” as the offense racked up 16 assists throughout the afternoon.
Against the Terrapins, the biggest test will be the defense. Pietramala’s group showed its strength. But the Crusaders were still able to beat the Orange in one-on-one situations, something Maryland will likely do as well. Still, Syracuse should be able to hold the Terrapins — who are without Bernhardt — to under 20 goals for the first time this season. If it can, SU has a chance to upset the best team in the nation. But just one game into the season, that’s likely not going to be the case.
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