Orange Watch: Syracuse lacrosse notches highest poll ranking since 2017

Syracuse Duke Lacrosse
Syracuse lacrosse defends against Duke. Mandatory Photo Credit: The Juice Online, Initra Marilyn.

Item: The 2020 Orange lax team is also 3-0 for the first time since the 2017 season, following its exciting 9-7 comeback win over now No. 15/16 ranked Army Sunday afternoon in the Dome. In this week’s coaches and media polls the ‘Cuse is slotted No. 3 behind top-ranked Yale and Penn State, its highest ranking since earning the No. 1 spot for several weeks late in the 2017 season, then sliding to No.2 at the end of that year.

Talk about dominance. In this week’s Division I lacrosse polls just three conferences comprise the Top 10 teams. Just three; the ACC, Big Ten, and suddenly potent Ivy League, which saw two of its members, Penn and Princeton, take care of the ACC’s Duke and Virginia, respectively, this past weekend.

None-the-less, three other ACC teams join SU in the Top 10 for upcoming games, and there’s two other upstate future Syracuse opponents among the Top 20 with No. 19 (media poll) Hobart (3-0) first headed into the Dome Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network) for the annual battle of the Kraus-Simmons Trophy, and a trip to No. 9/10 Cornell down the road in six weeks.

The 2017 Orange squad was the last team to knock off Yale in the NCAA Tournament, prior to the Bulldogs winning it all in 2018, and finishing runners-up last year to Virginia, before ascending back to No. 1 this week by virtue of a win last Saturday over previous top-ranked Penn State.

The win over Yale in the first-round at the Dome in ‘17, sent SU to the quarterfinals at Delaware where they dropped a disappointing 10-7 game to Towson as the No. 2 ranked team.

» Related: Syracuse rallies for 9-7 win over No. 7 Army

Fast-forwarding to this lacrosse season in which like college basketball, there’s plenty of talent spread out far and wide creating little separation among the Top 10 teams in the 80-second shot clock and face-off specialist era (SU’s Jakob Phaup was huge winning draws versus Army), and all 10 teams will end up playing one another come their respective conference games making for different teams in the Top 10 come May.

Unlike college basketball, the best college lacrosse players maximize their four-year eligibility, including undergraduate and grad transferring if need be, as evidenced by four of last year’s five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award for the top individual player in the sport being among the pre-season 50 player Watch List for the 2020 award.

Four Orange players made the Watch List; midfielders Brandan Curry (Jr.) and Tucker Dordevic (Soph.), attackman Chase Scanlan (Soph.) the Loyola transfer, and currently injured defenseman Nick Mellen (Sr.).

Ironically, in the win over Army, the third member of that outstanding first middie unit, Jamie Trimboli (Sr.) had three goals back-to-back-to-back, to break the Black Knights back in the third quarter, finishing with five goals scored, second most in a game this season to Scanlan who tallied seven times in his electric Orange debut Feb. 7 against Colgate.

Drake Porter (Sr.), who should be on the Tewaaraton Watch List, and on Tuesday announced as the ACC Defensive Player of the Week, was magnificent in goal against Army with 18 saves, the bedrock for a defense adjusting to playing minus Mellen out with a leg injury.

“We really had to work hard to win this game,” victorious head coach John Desko said after the defeat of the Black Knights. “I think that only helps us going forward.”

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 648 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.