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No. 10 Syracuse Heads Home to Finish Regular Season against Robert Morris

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Robert Morris University Athletics
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It has been a carousel for tenth-ranked Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse this season, to say the least. Up and down, up and down, up and down the horses have gone.

 

The Orange started out hot at 4-1. But ever since the trip to Durham on March 25, SU has dropped four of its last six. One of those four losses came this past Saturday, with Syracuse falling and then some to Notre Dame 22-8. The Orange gave up ten goals in the second quarter, coughing up a 17-2 run that began in the second frame. 

 

SU head coach John Desko says there’s a lot of work to do with the defense.

 

“We’ve got to get back to the drawing board,” Desko said. “We’ve got to play better, on that end of the field especially.” 

 

The defensive meltdown helped Notre Dame attack Pat Kavanagh earn a program record ten points on the day (five goals and five assists). Plus, the Irish’s 22 goals gave the Orange a stat they have not seen since 1977: giving up 20 goals or more in a game twice in one season.

 

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Credit Notre Dame Athletics
Notre Dame’s Pat Kavanagh (white) fires a shot past Syracuse defender Grant Murphy (orange). Kavanagh scored ten points in the Irish’s 22-8 blowout win over the Orange.

The blowout did not have much impact in the USILA poll, though. Syracuse dropped one spot from ninth to tenth in this week’s rankings. This is the lowest ranking in the poll for the Orange this season since three weeks ago, where they found themselves at eleventh.

SU finishes the regular season against Robert Morris, the first unranked opponent Syracuse has faced since UAlbany on April 8. But don’t think of this Colonials squad as an easy win for the Orange.

 

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Credit @USILA_Lax
Week of May 3’s USILA Division I Poll

RMU is led by Ryan Smith. The grad transfer has scored 64 points this season, which is third in teh country behind UNC attack Chris Gray and Duke attack Michael Sowers. Since playing Duke on March 25, Syracuse has faced five different attackmen that sit in the top 20 in points per game, including Smith. 

 

Last Saturday, Smith racked up three goals and four assists, en route to a 16-12 come-from-behind win against Utah. The impressive statline was enough to make the Ontario native the all-time leading goal scorer in Robert Morris men’s lacrosse history, with 135.

 

Expect SU defenseman Mitch Wykoff on RMU top attackman, but help could be added if Smith gets hot, according to Coach Desko.

 

“Mitch, for the most part, has been covering our top guy,” Desko said. “We’re going to have to be able to help when Smith gets going.”

 

Smith is also the third biggest attackman Syracuse will face this season, sitting at 6’2” and 220 pounds.

 

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Credit Robert Morris Athletics
Robert Morris’ Ryan Smith (white) cuts to the goal against Cleveland State’s Quinn Lemke (green).

Coach Desko had plenty of praise for his size in this week’s press conference.

 

“He plays a lot bigger than he is,” Desko said. “Very strong, he likes to get physical. [And] with the number of Canadians that they have, it is a different challenge. It’s hard to replicate that.

 

After Smith, though, it is a big drop-off in points for the Robert Morris offense. Jimmy Perkins, who has played college lacrosse since 2015, has racked up 41 points this season, followed by Corson Kealey with 24. 

 

Despite the success Smith has had in 2021, Robert Morris has had a tough go against ACC opponents. RMU has faced Duke, Notre Dame and Virginia this season, losing all three matchups. The Colonials lost to the Blue Devils, Irish and Cavaliers by a combined score of 49-31.

 

Syracuse and Robert Morris faceoff for the first time ever in the Dome this Friday, May 7. A win for the Orange likely locks them into their 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. A loss, on the other hand, could put SU out of the tournament, for the first time since 2007. 

 

WAER’s coverage begins at 3:30 with Countdown to Faceoff. Game time is set for 4.