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Syracuse enters its final game of the regular season coming off a 22-8 loss to Notre Dame. The Orange were scheduled to face Utah in the season finale, but the Utes canceled their trip east due to budget cuts within the program, according to head coach John Desko.
But 2 1/2 weeks later, a game against Robert Morris was added to replace the canceled Utah game. Syracuse comes into this game looking for a big win two days before the NCAA Tournament selection show, and the Colonials are seeking their first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team this season.
Here’s what our beat writers expect in the final regular season game of 2021:
Roshan Fernandez (7-4)
Not quite a gimme
Syracuse 15, Robert Morris 13
Syracuse added Robert Morris to its schedule right before its Virginia game on April 24. It was meant to serve as a replacement for the canceled Utah game, but it also served as padding in case Syracuse lost to both UVA and Notre Dame — reassurance that the Orange would be over .500. The Colonials have played Duke, UVA and Notre Dame, and lost by 12 to the Fighting Irish but four and two against the Blue Devils and Cavaliers, respectively.
This game could be closer than comfortable for SU, which is coming off a rough defensive outing against the Fighting Irish last weekend. Friday’s game is meant to build confidence for the Orange heading into the NCAA Tournament, Desko said after the UND loss, but it could be a close one in the Carrier Dome. The Colonials’ defense allows more than 13 goals per game on average, but their offense also averages over 13. Syracuse will need to remain sharp and focused — areas that have been a struggle this season — but the Orange will ultimately do enough for the victory.
Allie Kaylor (7-4)
Syracuse 17, Robert Morris 14
Playing in the final regular season game for any team in 2021, all eyes will be on Syracuse Friday afternoon. While this game was supposed to be a morale boost for the Orange before the NCAA Tournament, it will probably be closer than Desko would have hoped when he scheduled it. RMU and Syracuse are 19th and 20th respectively in the country in scoring offense, and 11th and 12th respectively for most goals allowed per game. This game will be nothing if not high scoring.
Guarding RMU’s high-powered offense will be Syracuse’s struggling defensive unit. The Orange lost one of their top defenders in Nick DiPietro, and several key shorties are questionable for this weekend. Saam Olexo and Max Rosa have been acceptable at short-stick defensive midfield, but Desko admits that the two aren’t used to playing key minutes and have struggled at times as a result. On the other side of the field, leading attack Chase Scanlan’s appearance is uncertain for Friday. Owen Seebold has been a great replacement on attack so far, but SU’s offense may be lacking that extra oomph that it had for its four other games against unranked opponents.
Arabdho Majumder (6-5)
Syracuse 16, Robert Morris 14
This is a great opportunity for Syracuse to boost confidence across its lineup before heading into the NCAA Tournament. For an up-and-down faceoff group, a matchup against the 49th-ranked Robert Morris unit, which wins just 41.6% of its draws, is ideal. As a result, the Orange’s injury-riddled defense will likely get some respite and not be worn down like it was against both Notre Dame and North Carolina. And, at the other end, the offense will finally have enough of the ball to figure out its stride, now likely without Scanlan for the rest of the year. Even just seeing the ball go in the net for a midfield group that hasn’t lived up to its ridiculously-high preseason expectations could do wonders heading into the more important May matchups. It’s also a chance to incorporate more of Seebold and Griffin Cook at attack.
It won’t be a cakewalk by any means. Robert Morris played both Duke and Virginia to within four goals and is undefeated in April and May so far. But that, too, could help Syracuse gain more experience executing at the end of close games, which is something the Orange haven’t really had a chance to do this season, outside of their game at Duke. And more recently against Virginia, even though it won the game, SU looked a bit shaky in the fourth quarter.
The post Beat writers expect SU to beat Robert Morris in last regular season game appeared first on The Daily Orange.