BALTIMORE –The two most storied programs in college lacrosse meet for the 50th time Saturday, March 17 when No. 6 Syracuse (3-1) visits Homewood Field for a 4 p.m. clash with No. 2 Johns Hopkins (6-0). The Orange and Blue Jays are the two winningest programs in Division I lacrosse history and they have met at least once every season dating back to 1983. Hopkins holds the edge in the all-time series, 26-22-1.
Saturday’s game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU. Fans can also hear the action live on the radio home of the Orange – TK 99 (99.5 FM) in Syracuse. Live streaming audio is available on SUathletics.com as part of Orange All-Access.
Saturday’s game represents a clash of two of the top active coaches in the game. Orange mentorJohn Deskois the Division I active leader in winning percentage at .778. Desko has five national championships and a 165-47 overall record. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala is fifth in active winning percentage (.728). He has a pair of national championships to his credit and is 155-58 overall.
Desko owns a slight 9-8 advantage in the 17 head-to-head meetings between he and Pietramala, which includes two matchups when Pietramala was the head coach at Cornell. In addition, both men are alums of the programs they currently lead. Desko played for the Orange from 1976-79 and Pietramala was a star defenseman for the Blue Jays from 1986-89.
LORDS OF THE RING
Syracuse and Johns Hopkins have combined to win nearly half (20) of the 41 NCAA championships since men’s lacrosse became an NCAA-sponsored sport in 1971. The Orange has an NCAA-record 11 titles. Johns Hopkins has nine. Overall, the Blue Jays have appeared in a record 18 NCAA title games and is 9-9 in those contests. Syracuse is second with 16 championship game appearances and is 11-5 in its championship tilts.
The Orange and Blue Jays are the two winningest programs in Division I lacrosse . They boast a combined record of 1,742-607-31 (.738). Johns Hopkins is the only program that currently has more than 900 all-time victories and enters Saturday’s game with 918 wins since it began playing the sport in 1883. Syracuse is second on that list with 824 all-time wins dating back to 1916. The Orange and Blue Jays are only two Division I programs with more than 800 wins.
MILESTONE WITHIN REACH
Redshirt senior Tim Desko (Syracuse, N.Y.)needs one more goal to reach 50 for his career. In 43 games since 2009, Desko has 49 goals, the highest active total on the team. Desko has eight goals so far in 2012 and he is tied for sixth in the BIG EAST at 2.0 goals per contest.
PALASEK FACES FORMER MATES
Senior Tommy Palasek (Rocky Point, N.Y.) certainly knows the Blue Jays well. Palasek, a native of Rocky Point, N.Y., spent two seasons at Johns Hopkins before transferring to Syracuse in January of 2011. Palasek totaled 25 points, including 14 goals, in 28 games for the Blue Jays from 2009-10. Palasek recorded two assists in a 5-4 Orange win at the Carrier Dome last season in his first game against his former club.
EILERS COMING ALIVE
After not scoring a goal in SU’s first two games, senior midfielder Bobby Eilers(Simsbury, Conn.) has three goals in the last two outings. Eilers found the cage once at Virginia and scored twice at St. John’s to help the Orange overcome a two-goal deficit in the second half.
SCOUTING JOHNS HOPKINS
At 6-0, the Blue Jays are one of five undefeated teams remaining in Division I lacrosse. Four of their wins have come at Homewood Field, including an 11-0 shutout against Manhattan. Hopkins also defeated UMBC at M&T Bank Stadium, 12-5, and captured a 10-8 road win at Princeton.
Johns Hopkins ranks second nationally in scoring defense (5.0 goals allowed per game), a number helped by its shutout of the Jaspers. Starting goalie Pierce Bassett has 48 saves, ranks sixth nationally in save percentage (.615) and lists second in the NCAA in goals-against average (5.25). Veteran defensemen Chris Lightner, Tucker Durkin and Gavin Crisafulli patrol the area in front of Bassett. Durkin and Crisafulli are tied for third on the team with 15 ground balls apiece. Crisafulli also has a team-high nine caused turnovers.
Zach Palmer and Brandon Benn lead the Hopkins offense. Palmer has a team-best 25 points (10g, 15a) and ranks sixth nationally in assists per contest (2.5). He exploded for eight points (3g, 5a) in the win against UMBC. Benn leads the club with 11 goals. John Ranagan (5g, 4a), Rob Guida (6g, 2a) and LaFayette product John Greeley (4g, 3a) make up the Blue Jays’ top midfield line. Fayetteville Manlius grad Mike Poppleton is the team’s faceoff specialist and ranks seventh in the country in faceoff winning percentage (.644, 57-88).
THE SERIES WITH JOHNS HOPKINS
The Blue Jays own a 26-22-1 advantage in the all-time series. Hopkins dominated the rivalry’s early years, winning 12 of the first 15 meetings. The Orange has been victorious in six of the last seven matchups. SU’s current five-game series winning streak is its longest against the Blue Jays.
Hopkins is Syracuse’s most familiar postseason foe with the Orange holding an 8-4 advantage in NCAA contests between the two teams. Five of those have come with the championship on the line (1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2008). SU is 3-2 against the Blue Jays in title tilts, defeating Hopkins to win NCAA championships in 1983, 1989 and 2008.