The Syracuse athletic department and the men’s lacrosse coaching staff will have plenty to do before the team takes the practice field in January—not the least of which is booking the schedule for its first season in the ACC.
The schedule likely won’t be released until December, but it’ll be interesting to see how difficult it gets. To be sure, the ACC will be a just bit more of a beast than the Big East was. Instead of facing growing programs like Villanova, Providence and St. John’s, the Orange now must deal with lacrosse powerhouses Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland (for a year), not to mention fellow Big East transfer Notre Dame.
Will Desko continue to book traditional schedule stalwarts Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Cornell, Army and Hobart? Will the team continue to face its former Big East rivals like Georgetown and Rutgers? I hope so—even if it turns the schedule into a veritable, week-in-week-out gauntlet.
The Orange lost much of its flexibility and strength of schedule when it left the independent ranks to join the Big East just a couple years ago. Now, instead of being forced to schedule six league games, it only has to book five. That opens up a slot for a team like UMass or Denver.
As the preeminent program in college lacrosse, Syracuse should schedule the best—even if it means a stumble every once in a while. Here’s a potential rundown of opponents:
- North Carolina
- Notre Dame
- Johns Hopkins
If Syracuse survives its schedule and finishes in the top four of the ACC standings, it’ll only have to travel four hours south to Philadelphia for the conference championship in 2014 and 2015. (The two teams that don’t qualify for the tournament will face each other there too.)
Orange fans should be happy about the move to PPL Park, home to Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. That’s a bit more palatable than travelling much further to a conference team’s site, where the tournament is typically held.