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After a tuneup game against Holy Cross, No. 9 Syracuse was brought back to reality with a 14-10 loss to No. 1 Maryland. Still, head coach Gary Gait said that the matchup against the Terrapins was a “positive,” as the Orange’s newest players got the chance to compete against the top team in the country.
But SU has a tough task again this Saturday, slated against No. 2 Virginia, a team that it upset twice last season. The Cavaliers have won three straight as they try to defend their national title from last year.
Here’s what our beat writers expect when Syracuse (1-1) faces Virginia (3-0):
Alex Cirino (2-0)
Back on top
Syracuse 15, Virginia 13
Despite its lopsided losses last season to Notre Dame and its NCAA Tournament first-round exit at the expense of Georgetown, Syracuse managed to sweep Virginia, the eventual national champions. Its first win at the Carrier Dome was a convincing 10-goal win, while its trip to Charlottesville ended in a narrow 13-11 victory. The Orange were handed a much-needed reality check against No. 1 Maryland, but they managed to find their way back into the game in each half, despite never leading.
Syracuse’s attack has been its bright spot in the first two games, with Tucker Dordevic already at 10 goals and Mikey Berkman and Lucas Quinn making a surprising impact, filling in the roles of departed pieces from last season. No. 2 Virginia struggled against High Point in its second game of the season, only putting up 11 goals, but scored at least 18 in its other two wins. But the Orange’s offense will outweigh that of the Cavaliers. And SU’s defense, led by former UVA goalkeeper Bobby Gavin — who saved 11 shots against Maryland — will do enough to secure a close victory for Syracuse.
Roshan Fernandez (2-0)
Something about UVA…
Syracuse 16, Virginia 15
Last season, Syracuse beat Virginia twice. The first was in convincing fashion, a 20-10 victory. The second was quite convincing as well, a 13-11 win, though UVA made it look more respectable by the final whistle. The Cavaliers went on to win the national championship, their second in a row. But there was something about Syracuse that just haunted UVA in those two contests. The Orange won 22 of 33 faceoffs the first game, and 24 of 27 in the second. Jakob Phaup just had Petey LaSalla’s number, and it seemed Syracuse as a whole had Virginia’s too.
This year, the Orange can do it again. I think Syracuse’s offense got just the wake-up call it needed last week when it fell flat (at times) against Maryland, and I think it has the pieces to score more than 10 goals against one of the nation’s top teams in UVA. The emergence of Quinn was a good sign, and Dordevic is playing some of his best lacrosse right now. Combine those two with what Owen Seebold, Berkman and Brendan Curry are capable of, and Syracuse should be just fine. I felt like the defense looked good against Maryland, and I’ll take Phaup at the faceoff X over LaSalla once more. Syracuse exceeded expectations last week despite failing to pull out the win, and I think this week it’ll both exceed expectations and upset the No. 2 Cavaliers.
Anish Vasudevan (2-0)
Revenge in Charlottesville
Virginia 15, Syracuse 13
Syracuse has had Virginia’s number in recent games. But with a national championship under their belt, and the chance to make up for last year’s losses, the Cavaliers might get the revenge they’ve been yearning for this season. Phaup dominated against the ACC’s top faceoff man, LaSalla, finishing 24-of-27 at the faceoff X against him in the Orange’s 15-13 win. But Phaup even said that he caught LaSalla on an off day, meaning that LaSalla could bring a whole different approach come Saturday.
Still, Syracuse should keep the score close with its offense, if it’s able to distribute the ball instead of relying on Dordevic and Quinn like it did against Maryland. Defensively, the Orange will have another tough test against Connor Shellenberger, who has 13 combined assists in three games. If they can mitigate Shellenberger from distributing the ball across the Cavaliers’ offense, the game will rely on Phaup and Gait’s attack. I expect the score to be flipped from the last time these two powerhouses faced, with Virginia finally getting on top while in pursuit of another national championship.
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