Nos. 15 through 11 of the all-time best Syracuse sports seasons

John Wallace
Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 22, 2012 -- John Wallace of the New York Knicks basketball team, visited the Rockaway Disaster Recovery Center in Rockaway, New York. During his visit, he distributed coats, hats, diapers, cleaning supplies and comfort kits to Hurricane Sandy survivors. Photo By Geralda Calixte/FEMA

On Wednesday, we ranked the top 20 through 16 best seasons in Syracuse athletics history. Today, we continue our countdown with seasons 15 through 11.

Make sure to check back in on Wednesday as we reveal spots 6 through 10!

15. 1996 men’s basketball
While it was not quite as agonizing a loss as the 1987 title game, 1996 was another close encounter with championship glory. Still, it was a really fun ride to get there. John Wallace put together a spectacular season as the lead man for the Orange. ‘Cuse was definitely on the outside looking in when it came to contenders that season, entering the field as a four-seed. They edged Georgia in a thrilling Sweet 16 game before knocking off Paul Pierce’s Kansas squad in the Elite Eight. It was another tough finish to a promising season for the Orange, but it just continued to build the foundation for an eventual breakthrough.

14. 2004 men’s lacrosse
For any college coach, it takes time to make a program your own. Recruiting is such a huge aspect of NCAA athletics and with most players staying for four or five years, it could be a while before your team is made up of players that agreed to sign while you were the head coach. That is exactly what 2004 represents for John Desko. After winning titles in both 2000 and 2002, this was the first Syracuse team to win a national championship without any players brought in while Roy Simmons Jr. was the coach. Just like 1995 as well, this team had a chance to go through Georgetown and Johns Hopkins to reach the national championship game. ‘Cuse edged Navy in a thriller to claim its eighth title.

» Related: Ranking the all-time top 25 Syracuse sports seasons (16-20)

13. 1987 men’s basketball
Turn back the clocks to Syracuse’s first trip to the national championship game. Jim Boeheim had been in charge for just over a decade to this point. His team, led by Rony Seikaly, Sherman Douglas and Derrick Coleman, met Bob Knight’s Indiana squad in the title game. It was a brutally close contest and ‘Cuse wound up losing on a last-second shot from Keith Smart. Even though the season came to a bitter end, it was a huge step for Syracuse as it looked to move forward without Pearl Washington and assert itself as a true blueblood in the sport.

12. 2013 women’s lacrosse
This proved to be a spectacular season for Syracuse women’s lax. After early season losses to familiar foes in Florida, Maryland and Northwestern, ‘Cuse settled into a 13-game win streak. That unbeaten run carried them a Big East Championship and another final four appearance. Unfortunately, the streak was snapped by who else but Maryland in the semifinal. However, the Orange took the Terrapins to the wire in a nail-biting 11-10 finish. It might not have been the storybook ending, but picking up some silverware is worth celebrating.

11. 2015 women’s basketball
This was never supposed to happen. Syracuse women’s basketball had never made it through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Their Sweet 16 game had a “it’s nice to be here” feeling for fans heading into the contest against No. 1 seed South Carolina. ‘Cuse stormed past them and took down another blueblood in Tennessee to reach the program’s first Final Four. The Orange cruised past Washington into the final where they were simply outmatched by one of, if not the greatest college basketball player of all-time. Breanna Stewart and UConn took home another title, but Syracuse capped off easily the best season in program history.

Check back in on Wednesday when we reveal our rankings for the 10th through 6th best Syracuse seasons of all time!

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About Chris McGlynn 79 Articles
Chris hails from Westfield, NJ, and is a recent graduate from Syracuse University. He spent his college years playing for the Syracuse Ultimate frisbee team, working at WAER and covering the Orange for the Juice.