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No. 11 Syracuse eager to bounce back against No. 5 Virginia

No. 11 Syracuse hit its rock bottom point in the season in Saturday’s 21-9 loss to North Carolina. But there’s no time to dwell for SU. The Orange get a second-straight top five opponent in the form of No. 5 Virginia this Saturday, a team that the Orange are familiar with. SU throttled the at-the-time No. 3 Cavaliers 20-10 back on February 27. Yet, that was nearly two months ago, and now it’s the Orange who find themselves struggling.

Syracuse lost to North Carolina by 12 goals on Saturday, the largest margin of defeat all season. Then, the team announced the indefinite suspension of top goal-scorer Chase Scanlan on Tuesday. SU was already shorthanded with the injury of Jacob Buttermore. The Orange will have to look elsewhere for goals on Saturday.

“We’ve just got to improve on everything,” said Tucker Dordevic, who led the Orange with four goals on Saturday. “Everyone’s got to look themselves in the mirror and nitpick themselves and see what they’ve got to do to get better.”

Tucker Dordevic (white) fires a shot past Cade Saustad during Syracuse’s 20-10 win over Virginia on February 27.

Just a week after being challenged defensively by the Tar Heels, the Orange face another potent offense, led by the ACC’s top faceoff winner (by percentage), Petey LaSalla, and the league’s third-best scorer, Payton Cormier. Syracuse is just 32-66 in faceoffs against its last three ACC opponents, and 0-3 in those games.

With a fourth top-10 opponent in a five week span, and a date with No. 2 Notre Dame awaiting SU in the regular season finale next week, pressure has built up with an NCAA Tournament bid in the balance. 

“[The players] understand the urgency here,” said Desko. “They’re doing everything in practice to pay’s an experienced group and we have great leadership.”

Syracuse’s Jakob Phaup is defended by Virginia’s Petey LaSalla during the Orange’s 20-10 victory over the Cavaliers on February 27.

Coverage between the Orange and Tar Heels begins Saturday with countdown to faceoff at 11:30 a.m. and the game at noon on 88.3 FM, the WAER app and