Syracuse Lacrosse Season Successful Despite Loss

It’s been a couple days since the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team suffered a disappointing loss to Duke in the national championship game, and while the loss will hurt for a while, the initial sting of the defeat has worn off enough to reflect on what a successful, exciting, and fulfilling season it was for the Orange.

It’s no secret why the Orange lost to the Blue Devils Monday in Philadelphia. After racing out to an early lead, Syracuse’s inept play at the faceoff X finally caught up to them. After Duke spent the 2nd quarter clawing back into the game, the Blue Devils won every face off in the 3rd quarter and built a sizeable lead of their own, which prevented the Orange from having enough possessions to keep pace with Duke’s high-scoring offense.

Syracuse had issues on face-offs all season, and the fact that they were able to earn the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and ultimately reach the national title game with such a glaring weakness at a key position is a testament to how well-rounded the Orange were in 2013. Had Syracuse been even an average faceoff team, they most likely would have been able to dominate the NCAA Tournament and cruise to a national championship, much like they used to. Lesser teams with such profound issues gaining possessions would have struggled just to have a winning record, but Syracuse consistently found ways to get around their struggles at the faceoff X. It wasn’t always pretty, and it usually led to close games that could have gone either way, but up until the national championship game, the Orange had overcome a weakness that would have crippled most teams, and that ability to persevere and succeed should not be understated.

Even with Tewaaraton finalist JoJo Marasco leading the offense from the midfield, the Orange didn’t have the kind of star power on its roster that so many of the Syracuse teams of the past have had; nor did they have the high level of talent expected of a top-seeded team that reaches the Final Four. The Orange were able to excel this season with a balanced roster, good depth, and great team play. On offense, Syracuse shared the ball better than any team in the country; the Orange possessed one of the deepest midfields in college lacrosse on both sides of the ball; they had a veteran defense that was able to tolerate an unbalanced number of possessions; and a goalie that was reliable and constantly improving throughout the season. The head, heart, and hustle that Syracuse prides itself on were evident all season, and once again, those intangibles played a major role in the Orange’s success.

Despite the loss in the championship game and the unsatisfying title of national runners-up, Syracuse has nothing to be ashamed of in 2013. The Orange were nowhere to be seen in preseason polls, as outside expectations were as low for Syracuse lacrosse as they’ve ever been; and in a down year for traditional powers, Syracuse still found its way to the top. Even with injuries to key players before the season, a mid-year goalie change, and a glaring weakness on face-offs throughout the season, Syracuse returned to the Final Four and reaffirmed that they are one of the few powerhouse programs of college lacrosse.

The loss on Memorial Day hurts, just as it has before, but the 2013 Orange deserve to be remembered as fondly as many of the Syracuse teams that did manage to walk away victorious on Memorial Day. Few Syracuse teams of the past have displayed the grit, team togetherness, and knack for winning close games that this year’s team showed time and time again. The Orange may have fallen one game shy of a championship on Monday, but the season as a whole should be considered nothing less than successful.

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