Item: Taking advantage of the year 2020 being a leap year, with the calendar yielding a rare five Saturdays in the month of February, the NCAA Div. I lacrosse season got underway this past Sat. with 13 games. Syracuse, No. 5/6 in the polls, opens its 104th season and 7th as an ACC member this evening against upstate neighbor Colgate (7:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network). Gazing into the Orange Watch crystal ball, here’s our shot at forecasting the season’s schedule order. It’s a campaign we’ve been told by those that have watched a lot of practice and the two scrimmages in which John Desko’s 22nd squad (with limited injuries) is capable of competing for a national championship.
Colgate – W (1-0)
Does Coach Desko even need to remind his team what happened a year ago in the Dome opener? SU fell behind 3-0 and 6-2 and didn’t know what hit them in the upset loss shocker to the Raiders. Colgate (0-1) lost at North Carolina 19-6 last Saturday in its opener.
Binghamton Feb. 15 2:00 p.m. ACC Network – W (2-0)
The America East conference member Bearcats are back on the schedule after a year’s absence. Figure to hear of lot of the Orange players favorite post-scoring tunes when Syracuse tallies, often, as SU will win its 8th straight in the series dating back to 2007.
Army – Feb. 23 1:00 p.m. ACC Network Extra – W (3-0)
In the first test late into the fourth quarter against the usually gritty Black Knights, standout new attackman Chase Scanlan (No. 22) and returning-from-injury midfielder Tucker Dordevic (No. 23) both score late in a 13-11 thriller.
Hobart – Feb. 28 7:00 p.m. ACC Network – W (4-0)
It will be a “Whale of a Weekend” inside the Dome. Friday night is the battle for the Simmons-Kraus Trophy. Saturday night it’s hoops versus North Carolina with John Wallace’s No. 44 jersey unveiled. Sunday the Dome closes for six months to construct a new permanent roof.
At Johns Hopkins – March 7 1:00 p.m. ESPN3 – L (4-1)
The first challenging moment of the season turns into a long bus ride home from Baltimore. With the ‘Cuse up 11-9 entering the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays, finally molding with many new faces five games into the season, storm back to stunningly win 14-13 in OT.
At Rutgers – March 14 1:00 p.m. Big10 Network+ – W (5-1)
The Rutgers series was renewed for a home-and-home contract for several reasons. It’s a close trip to/from ‘Cuse against a Big 10 team, and for recruiting metro NYC, especially Long Island. The Nick Mellen (No. 11) and Drake Porter (No. 33)-led defense key a road win over RU.
At Duke – March 21 12:00 p.m. ESPNU – L (5-2)
Playing three straight on the road is tough, even if this trip is by plane. Duke will certainly not be the same team that was knocked off at home 14-13 by a good Air Force team last Saturday. The Blue Devils will record just their third win over SU in ACC play dating back to 2014.
Notre Dame (at C-NS High School) – March 28 2:00 p.m. ESPNU – W (6-2)
In the tightly-packed race among the Top 15 teams, games often come down to faceoffs and lucky bounces. Syracuse’s junior specialist at the “X” is Jakob Phaup (No. 37), who led the ACC with a faceoff win percentage of .606 last season. His draw proficiency helps nip the Irish 14-12.
At Albany – April 3 7:00 p.m. Great Danes TV – W (7-2)
After 18 games in this series having been played in the Dome, Albany coach Scott Marr finally got counterpart Desko to head east on the Thruway. Top face-value tickets are $50 at John Fallon Field, but the capacity crowd will go home unhappy as SU controls the second half.
At Cornell – April 7 7:30 p.m. ESPN+ – L (8-2)
Only four days to get ready for upstate rival Cornell isn’t ideal, but doesn’t faze this veteran squad. Sophomore attackman Griffin Cook (No. 2) is going to have a breakout season, and the former local high school star (Jamesville-Dewitt) helps lead the Orange over the Big Red 15-10.
North Carolina (at C-NS High School) – April 11 2:00 p.m. ESPNU – W (9-2)
This game, after another short four days, comes down to defense and midfield play. All-ACC middies Brendan Curry (No. 16) on offense, and Peter Dearth (No. 9) on short-stick defense, key a 13-9 Orange win to remain unbeaten (3-0) at SU’s home away from the Dome.
At Virginia – April 18 12:00 p.m. ACC Network – L (9-3)
The ACC back-scheduled all league games in 2020 over the final six weeks, so the Orange meet the defending champions later than previous years. Gunning for the highest seed possible for the following week’s ACC Tournament, SU is nipped by the Cavaliers on a late goal 11-10.
ACC Semi-Finals at Virginia – April 24 TBD ACC Network – W (10-3)
Five days later, the Orange find themselves in Charlottesville, again, because UVA is the highest seed from the regular season. SU adjusts and sets the tone early thanks to Phaup’s face-offs, and attack Jamie Trimboli (No. 12) and middie Stephen Rehfuss (No. 29) secure a big upset late.
ACC Championship Notre Dame (at Virginia) – April 26 TBD ACC Network – W (11-3)
Because the ACC had the highest-seeded team host the tournament, there’s lots of empty seats at Virginia for the No. 2 (SU) vs. 3 (ND) seed meeting on Sunday afternoon.. Playing one of their best games of the season in all phases, the Orange look ready for May Madness controlling the ball in the second-half to win going away 15-10.
NCAA First Round Vermont (at C-NS High School) – May 10 TBD ESPNU – W (12-3)
Even with the Done unavailable, the NCAA keeps No. 4 seed Syracuse in a Sunday evening first-round window, outdoors, against America East member Vermont, an upset winner over Stony Brook. SU blitzes the Catamounts 16-7 to finish 4-0 in games played at C-NS over two seasons.
NCAA Quarterfinals Maryland (at Providence, R.I.) – May 17 TBD ESPNU – W (13-3)
This round has proven to be the obstacle for the Orange since 2013, and after a half, the usual great Orange crowd is bewildered as SU is down 8-3. But the big guns wake up and the defense stiffens, before a back-and-forth fourth quarter is decided by a Scanlan goal with 0:22 to play.
NCAA Semifinals Penn State (at Philadelphia) – May 23 TBD ESPN2 – L (13-4)
For the second straight season the Nittany Lions fans pack The Linc in South Philly, with plenty of orange as well. It’s a battle of faceoffs that seemingly tilts after each goal scored, and tough goaltending, and PSU gets one extra clear shot on goal, in OT, to end a fantastic season for SU.
(All Times Eastern)