In the final contest of the 2018 regular season, the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (7-4, 4-0), will look to finish the year on a good note against the No. 16 Navy Midshipmen (8-4, 7-1) in the Carrier Dome at 2pm this Saturday.
After No. 11 Cornell handed Syracuse its fourth loss of the season last week, the Orange got back on track in spectacular fashion against North Carolina last Saturday. Facing a three-goal deficit with less than five minutes to play, "Cardiac Cuse" put together a late rally that ended in a walk-off win two minutes into the first overtime period. Freshman midfielder Brendan Curry scored twice to tie the game in regulation. He built on his impressive performance in overtime, as he dished to senior middie Brendan Bomberry right in front of the net to send UNC packing.
In Navy's last contest, the Midshipmen held off a late run by Army to win 9-8 and clinch a share of the Patriot League's regular season title. They have won their last four games and haven't lost in over a month.
These two teams will faceoff for the first time since 2004, when Syracuse defeated Navy 14-13 in the National Championship. This will be the 28th installment in the history of this matchup, and Navy leads the all-time series 18-8-1. Syracuse has emerged victorious in their last five meetings, and will look to continue that trend this Saturday.
For the first time in NCAA history, two brothers will faceoff against each other. Syracuse's sophomore faceoff specialist, Danny Varello, is 205-282 (49.8%) on faceoffs this season. Joe Varello, Navy's senior specialist, is enjoying a very successful season, as the older brother is 133-223 (59.6%) on faceoffs, good for 14th in the nation in win percentage.
The Orange offense will have their hands full in this one, as the Midshipmen boast a top-15 scoring defense in the nation, allowing just over 8 goals per game. Syracuse averages 11 goals per game and has failed to reach double-digits in just three contests this year, all three resulting in losses. They will need to recapture the energy they had against UNC, for open looks could be hard to come by.
The edge for Syracuse will come on the defensive side. While the Orange allow a lofty 11 goals per game, the Midshipmen rank in the bottom-15 for scoring offense, managing just over 8 goals per contest. Stifling Navy on defense will be a major factor in this matchup, as consistent stops will open up opportunities for the dangerous Orange offense.
Syracuse has already clinched a birth to the ACC Tournament and will look to help their seeding on Saturday. The regular season finale can be heard on WAER, 88.3 FM.