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Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse Gears Up for an Old Friend, No. 2 Virginia

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Captain Owen Seebold driving down the field last weekend (Cuse.com).

After what was a tightly contested loss against number one Maryland last Saturday, Syracuse gets another go versus a fellow top-ten team…number two Virginia.

SU sits at ninth in the nation and 1-1 so far this season, whereas UVA has yet to come across defeat at 3-0. The Orange are the Cavaliers’ first ranked opponent of the year.

While it may be UVA’s first top-ten meeting this season, this navy and orange rivalry dates all the way back to 1938. Syracuse leads the series with 20 wins to Virginia’s 18, and this includes their two match-ups last season. SU’s most recent losses to UVA were from 2019 and 2018, both by just a one goal difference. Five of the last seven games were also decided by just one goal.

Each team also holds its own history in the finals of the NCAA Tournament. SU outnumbers UVA with 11 total national championship wins. The two teams last met in the finals in 1999 when the Cavs won 12-10. SU was seeded eighth, and UVA third. As of late, Virginia currently defends the trophy after snatching the title in 2019 against Yale and then again last year over Maryland (the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic). Syracuse hasn’t won the national championship since 2009.

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Syracuse’s most recent National Title win from 2009 (Cuse.com).

So while UVA holds more overall success in the last five years, it can’t be forgotten that the Orange defeated the Cavaliers 20-10 early last year, and then again 13-11 at the end of the season. This was all during a rough year for Syracuse, finishing the year with a 7-6 overall record. Both times the Orange defeated the Cavs last season were UVA’s two lowest scoring games all year. Current leading scorer for Virginia, Payton Cormier could only get one goal past Syracuse defense in the two squads’ most recent meeting last year.

Cormier is still one of Virginia’s players that Syracuse should look out for. The attacker and midfielder Xander Dickson have already recorded nine and eight goals for the season, respectively. The Orange also have to keep close tabs on major playmaker Connor Shellenberger. The redshirt sophomore has 13 assists, accounting for almost half of the team’s total.

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Jakob Phaup crushed Petey LaSalla last year at the X in SU’s 13-11 victory winning 24 of 27 face-offs (Cuse.com).

Another place to focus on is the face-off X. Syracuse’s Jakob Phaup and Virginia’s Petey LaSalla have the third and fourth highest faceoff percentages in the ACC, respectively. Phaup enters Saturday’s contest with a 0.652 face-off success percentage. LaSalla sits at 0.623.

The Cavaliers head into this weekend seeking revenge after last season. For the Orange, they get a go at another top-two team, and have a chance to snatch a massive first conference win for Head Coach Gary Gait. The game is this Saturday at 12 at Klockner Stadium and WAER’s coverage begins with GZA Countdown to Face-off beginning at 11:30.