Men's Lacrosse

Syracuse’s difficult ACC schedule lacks traditional matchups with Princeton, Army

Chase Gaewski | Managing Editor

Syracuse head coach John Desko addresses the media. Desko said he would like to face Princeton and Army again in future years.

While crafting its schedule for its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Syracuse had to put some traditions on hold.

Games against Princeton and Army, which have become constants on the Orange’s calendar over the years, aren’t on the 2014 slate. And while SU head coach John Desko has plans to reinsert these games in the future, he said it was a sacrifice the team had to make.

“If you look at the schedule there really isn’t a breather on there,” Desko said at the team’s media day on Monday. “Not only did we add in some teams but we also added the ACC tournament.”

The schedule isn’t just crowded, but filled with top-flight teams. Syracuse is ranked as the No. 2 team by Lacrosse Magazine, and its schedule is ranked as the hardest in the country. The Orange was also picked to win the ACC in its first season in the conference over a handful of top 10 teams that will be vying for the crown.

Syracuse is one of six ACC teams in Lacrosse Magazine’s Preseason Top 10, and will meet No. 1 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 7 Maryland and No. 9 Virginia. And in addition to its tough conference games, the Orange will face No. 10 Albany, No. 13 Johns Hopkins, No. 18 Cornell and No. 19 St. John’s.

Nine games against preseason top 20 teams.

“We’ve got to take it one game at a time,” senior captain Billy Ward said. “Obviously I want to get back to the championship but we have a tough schedule and I don’t want to look that far ahead.”

Takings things one game at time was a theme on Monday. Regarding the team’s strength of schedule, Desko, senior captain Derek Maltz and freshman goalie Parker Ferrigan nearly repeated Ward’s outlook word-for-word.

The Orange finished last season 16-4 with losses to Albany, Villanova and Hobart in the regular season and Duke in the national championship game. To think the team can attain the same success isn’t outlandish, but it certainly won’t be easy to come by.

“Best conference in college lacrosse,” Ferrigan said. “You can’t take a day or a practice off because you know every game’s important and you’re going to be pushed to your limit.”

Desko went on to explain how being in the ACC, and playing such a hard schedule, will benefit the team when it comes time for the NCAA tournament. Teams are seeded based on Ratings Percentage Index, which considers wins, losses and strength of schedule to stack teams against one another.

Five teams in the ACC this season made the 16-team NCAA tournament field last May, the most of any conference.

“If one of the teams is No. 1 and you’re playing that No. 1, you’ve played them during the year and now you play them again in the ACC tournament,” Desko said. “You take the top 10 teams on your schedule and you have two No. 1’s on your schedule. That doesn’t hurt anything going into the playoffs.”

The Orange will begin play with a three-way scrimmage again Hofstra and Le Moyne at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 25. The Orange kicks off its regular season at home against Siena on Feb. 10.

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