Friday night’s Virginia-Syracuse tussle in the Carrier Dome marks one of the highlights of the lacrosse season.
Both teams are known for their offenses.
Both teams are more likely to play a wide-open style on the first weekend in March than the last few days in May.
Oh, and both fanbases have long-standing reservations for Memorial Day weekend, even if they don’t always get there.
So can the co-No. 1s in the USILA coaches poll (intriguingly, the Orange is a unanimous No. 1 in the Inside Lacrosse writers poll) create the offensive highlight they’re known for?
“I think we’re still a work in progress, and Syracuse is a different kind of defensive team than they were 10 years ago,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “With these teams, the 22-21 game back in 1997 is always mentioned, and you think of that game you had Casey Powell and Ryan Powell and Michael Watson and Doug Knight on the field. I don’t think there’s as much firepower as there was on that day. I don’t think we’ll have quite that type of game.”
Still, there are offensive pieces. Virginia has the Brothers Bratton, Steele Stanwick and more. The Orange has JoJo Marasco and Tim Desko, who both have five goals in Syracuse’s first two games.
So while a first-to-20 seems unlikely, it’s not a bad bet to expect both teams to surge into double figures.
“The question is whether or not these two defenses can stop the other team or if one of the goalies steps up,” Starsia said. “Syracuse is a known quantity in that way. I still think these are two good offensive lacrosse teams and I think there’s going to be some goals. You’re going to have to score to win here.”
—- Patrick Stevens