What if the mumps was just the sort of adversity the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team needed?
Maybe a little isolation and introspection in the fall ends up being the cure for the team’s championship and Final Four droughts in the spring—going on eight and four years, respectively.
When an outbreak of the mumps on campus forced the Orange to shut down practices and scrimmages for more than a month in October, the concern was that the team would miss out on building chemistry and getting newcomers acquainted with the program. With a sizeable freshman class and several positions up for grabs, the shutdown could have put the Orange behind the curve.
Yet Syracuse got in its fall practices after all.
The Orange went back to work in mid-November after getting cleared to play again, and it will end up having 24 practices by the time the first semester ends. That’s about the same as a normal fall and the amount it can hold by rule.
Unfortunately, Syracuse couldn’t make up the four scrimmages it missed, so the first action the team faces against competition will be in January—right before the 2018 season begins.
While missing out on the benefits of facing competition certainly won’t help, perhaps the layoff and shortened fall schedule forced the team to work harder over a shorter period of time, allowed the freshmen more time to get comfortable on campus and with the academic workload, and got them to bond over a common cause: overcoming the mumps.
That may seem far-fetched, but as the championship and Final Four droughts seem to drag on—especially for a program like Syracuse—fans will soon be breaking out the voodoo dolls, black magic, and spells. We’re not quite at curse levels of a drought, but we may be getting close.
Maybe the mumps was just what the doctor ordered.