For Syracuse lacrosse, the ACC equals a whole lot of trouble

The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team has not taken kindly to its new environs in the ACC. With its loss to Duke last weekend—a 21-7 thrashing—the team remains winless in the conference and its hopes for a postseason berth are dangling by a thread with more than a month to play in the regular season.

Frustrated by the men’s basketball team’s failures at the offensive end beware? You may be even more frustrated by the lacrosse team’s failures at the faceoff X.

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Syracuse lacrosse is struggling right now

Less than 24 hours after watching basketball fall to Dayton in the Round of 32 in Buffalo because it struggled to score, lacrosse fell at Duke in a rematch of the 2013 national championship game. Much like that difficult loss, Duke’s Brendan Fowler dominated at the X. The Orange collected just 7-of-31 faceoffs on Sunday—slightly worse than the 9-of-30 mark 10 months ago.

It’s such a shame to watch the team continue to struggle from the X. The team is so talented on the offensive end.

» More from Dan Brannigan: Syracuse lacrosse faceoff woes return, but that’s not the only problem

Syracuse (4-3 overall) cannot—and won’t—succeed when its faceoff deficits are so great and it doesn’t dominate in other facets of the game. During the win at Johns Hopkins on March 15, the Orange lost 4-of-25 takes at the X, but Dominic Lamolinara recorded 11 saves, the team forced 12 turnovers and successfully cleared the ball on 18-of-21 chances.

The defense has to stand on its head in an effort to get the ball to the offense. It couldn’t do that on Sunday against Duke or versus Maryland and Virginia earlier in the season.

Syracuse lost by eight to Maryland (7-1, 2-1), five to Virginia (8-2, 1-1) and 14 to Duke (8-2, 2-1). In the three contests, the team is averaging just nine goals per while allowing 18. And while the Orange has won a paltry 37 percent of its faceoffs this season, the mark is even worse in the league: a miserable 28 percent.

Syracuse was outshot by Maryland 55-32, Virginia 55-32 and Duke 57-27. In the ground ball game, the Orange has been outdistanced 36-17 (Maryland), 51-22 (Virginia) and 38-17 (Duke).

The team surrendered eight straight goals to Maryland, six straight to Virginia and 10 to Duke.

The Duke loss was one for the record books. It was the Orange’s most lopsided
loss since falling 24-8 to Hobart in 1977 and the first time the team has lost by double digits since a 17-5 setback at Johns Hopkins in 2004.

» More SU Lax: Syracuse lacrosse demolished by Duke

Without quick improvement and some luck in its final two league games, Syracuse could miss the ACC tournament in Chester, Pa., at the end of April. It faces Notre Dame (3-2, 2-0) on Saturday at the Dome then North Carolina (7-2, 1-2) on April 12, also at home.

Only the top four teams in the league advance to the league tournament. The bottom two teams meet the same weekend. And regardless of what Syracuse does the rest of the season, if it loses that game, their chances of reaching the NCAA tournament would be slim.

Unfortunately for Syracuse, Notre Dame leads the league with a 69.6 faceoff win percentage. Duke (60.2 percent), Maryland (55.8), North Carolina (54.3) and Virginia (48.0) follow. Unless the Orange improves upon its 37 percent mark, it’ll be sitting on the sidelines come playoff time in May.

For this team, the season begins and ends at the X.

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Dan Brannigan

About Dan Brannigan

Dan is currently the editor of Common Ground magazine for Community Associations Institute (CAI) where he has won an Association Media & Publishing award for newswriting. Dan has also won a New England Press Association award while working for the The Inquirer and Mirror in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he grew up. Dan is a 2005 Syracuse University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @djbranni.
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