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No. 9 Syracuse Looks to Reset Against In-State Rival

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Cuse.com
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When you think of two straight for ninth-ranked Syracuse men’s lacrosse, you normally think of it as two straight wins. The Orange are rolling with no setbacks or bad losses whatsoever. It should be a no brainer, right? 

 

Not this year. 2021 is here to flip the script.

 

After Saturday’s 18-11 loss to now fifth-ranked Notre Dame, SU has lost two in a row. The last time that happened in the regular season was back in 2018. You can say the loss to top-ranked Duke was a good loss, but you would be insane to think the loss to the Irish was too.

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Credit Cuse.com
The Syracuse defense huddles to discuss strategy.

Syracuse gave up nine goals in the second quarter alone. It wasn’t just the box score that was ugly. Notre Dame won 23 of the game’s 32 faceoffs, along with 45 of the game’s 65 ground balls. John Desko believes it started with the defense.

“We didn’t seem like we were communicating,” Desko said in Saturday’s post-game press conference. “The wheels came off in the second quarter, that’s for sure.”

On Monday morning, the USILA poll revealed the Orange dropped to ninth, with the Irish moving to fifth. SU has not reached the basement yet. It sat at tenth in week 3’s poll after the season opening loss to then 12th-ranked Army. 

But just like Army, another in-state rival is looking to take down the Orange. Syracuse (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) welcomes Albany (5-2, 3-2 America East) into the Dome this Thursday. For redshirt senior attack Stephen Rehfuss, he is elated to have a short week.

 

“Thank God it’s a short week,” Rehfuss said. “We get to prepare for Albany this week and come out Thursday and give it our best shot.”

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Credit Cuse.com
Stephen Rehfuss (white) posted his second consecutive hat trick versus Notre Dame on Saturday.

Just because the Great Danes didn’t crack that same USILA poll the Orange fell to ninth to this week doesn’t mean SU should start lacking. Albany sits second in the nation in assists per game at 10.43, only behind tenth-ranked Georgetown and two spots ahead of Notre Dame. 

For Orange goalie Drake Porter, the Great Danes may give the senior an even more stressful afternoon. Last Saturday, Porter faced 47 shots--29 of them on goal, and Albany is third in the nation in shot percentage at 37%. In that category, only Maryland and Duke stand in its way. 

But those stats may take a hit against Syracuse. This past Wednesday, it was announced Albany senior attack Tehoka Nanticoke was dismissed from the program this past Wednesday, March 31. In just four games played, Nanticoke led the team in points with 23. 

But right behind him is Graydon Hogg, who is red hot for the Great Danes. The sophomore attack racked up a career high seven points on Saturday against UMass Lowell. The six goals and one assist were enough to earn America East offensive player of the week honors. Along with Hogg is his quarterback at the X, Jakob Patterson. The grad student has racked up 16 assists for the Great Danes, leading the team by five. 

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Credit University of Albany Athletics
Tehoka Nanticoke (purple) scored five goals when Albany beat Syracuse 15-3 back in 2018.

Despite the positive changing of the guard at attack for Albany, the similar opponents match up well for Syracuse. The Great Danes fell to both Vermont, 14-12, and Stony Brook, 16-10, earlier this season, but the Orange came out victorious against both the Catamounts and Seawolves. 

SU plays its third and final America East opponent at noon this Saturday. An Orange loss will make it the first time since 2016 they have lost three consecutive games. Tune into Countdown to Face-off at 11:30 on 88.3.