Orange Watch: Syracuse lacrosse postseason picture taking shape

Rutgers Syracuse Lax
Syracuse plays in lacrosse. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: There’s a lot going on off the field heading into the final two weeks of the regular season for the now 8th ranked Syracuse lacrosse team. But most importantly, this past weekend’s impressive 13-11 road win over Virginia should be enough to propel SU (6-4, 2-3) into the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens on the field before Selection Sunday May 9.

Five days before their final ACC game of the season at No. 4 Notre Dame (6-3, 2-3) Saturday (12:00 p.m. ET / ESPNU), the Orange made news with the announcement of a 12th game added to the schedule, and a potential major roster transaction.

SU will play non-conference affiliated Robert Morris for the first time on May 7 at the Dome, replacing the game against fellow independent Utah originally scheduled for the Dome on May 8. Utah asked Syracuse to cancel the contest due to financial considerations after the Utes have already made six trips to the Eastern Time Zone to play games this season.

Ironically, Robert Morris (6-5) has a game Saturday before coming to the Dome, at Utah, demonstrating just how hard it is for the lone four NCAA Div. I independents (Cleveland State and Hampton) to schedule games, especially in this unusual COVID-19 season in which SU will end up playing two fewer games than a normal regular season.

In a bigger potential development, a week after announcing the “indefinite suspension” of leading goal scorer Chase Scanlon, comes word that Scanlon was reportedly reinstated in time for Tuesday’s practice with his teammates, but as of midweek the situation remained fluid behind the scenes. If Scanlan ends up playing, that seemingly can’t hurt an Orange offense that came to life with seven players picking up the slack in the scoring column against Virginia.

Whether the ‘Cuse ends up with a winning record or at .500 when all is said and done, there’s no doubt they are deserving of a tournament berth along with the other four ACC teams. As with the NCAA basketball tournament being played in a bubble atmosphere this year in Indiana, there will also be one-year changes to the lacrosse postseason to better handle pandemic-related protocols.

» Related: Syracuse saves its season with an upset of No. 5 Virginia

Four sites will host first-round games on the weekend of May 15-16, and from the original list of the six locations announced last week, we think the NCAA will select Albany (the northernmost locale), Hofstra (also already set as a quarterfinal host), Maryland (plenty of room at the football stadium), and North Carolina (southernmost location).

Syracuse would then seemingly be headed down the turnpike to play at Albany in a first-round game, and a victory would send the Orange likely to Hofstra May 22 for the quarterfinals, as opposed to having to fly again to Notre Dame, the other quarterfinal site.

For the first time the Final Four will be played in the state of Connecticut, with East Hartford’s Rentschler Field hosting the games over Memorial Day weekend, and SU eyeing its first appearance on that stage since losing the 2013 title game to Duke in Philadelphia.

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About Brad Bierman 848 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.