SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Always one of the most anticipated games of the college lacrosse season, Syracuse and Virginia renew their annual rivalry Sunday, March 4 at Klöckner Stadium. Faceoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Both teams are undefeated and ranked in the top five nationally. With wins against Albany and Army, Syracuse is 2-0 and checks in at No. 3 in this week’s USILA Coaches’ Poll. Defending national champion Virginia is 4-0 following a mid-week victory against Mount St. Mary’s. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 1.
Sunday’s game will be televised live nationally on ESPN. 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.
SU head coach John Desko and Virginia head coach Dom Starsia are two of the top active coaches in the game. The two legends have a combined for 497 career wins. Starsia owns the second-most wins by an active Division I head coach, and has a 333-118 career record. Desko is 10th on that list with 164 victories. Overall, Desko is 164-46.
Desko’s .781 winning percentage is first among active Division I coaches. Starsia ranks third at .738. In addition, Desko and Starsia are two of the four active Division I coaches to win least three NCAA titles. The pair has combined for nine national championships overall (Desko – 5, Starsia – 4). In head-to-head meetings, Starsia holds a slight 9-8 edge versus Desko.
TAKING ON NO. 1
Sunday’s game against Virginia represents the 23rd time since start of the USILA Coaches’ Poll in 1973 that Syracuse will face the nation’s top-ranked team. The Orange is 11-11 (.500) in its previous encounters with No. 1, including a 2-2 road record. One of those road victories was a 13-12 overtime triumph at Virginia on March 4, 2000.
Overall, Syracuse has taken on Virginia three times when the Cavaliers have owned the top spot in the polls. The Orange is 2-1 in those games, including last year’s 12-10 win at the Carrier Dome when Syracuse and Virginia shared the No. 1 ranking.
IT’S COOL, DADDIO
Sophomore faceoff specialist Chris Daddio (Purcellville, Va.) ranks eighth in the NCAA in faceoff winning percentage (.676). Daddio is 25-for-37 on the season. Against Army, Daddio set personal bests for faceoffs won (16) and attempted (22). His 16 faceoff victories against the Black Knights is the most by an SU player in one game since Danny Brennan won 19 against Virginia in the 2008 NCAA semifinals.
MEGILL TAKETH AWAY
Close defender Brian Megill (Clark, N.J.) is tied for fourth nationally in caused turnovers at 3.5 per game. Megill has forced seven opponent turnovers in two games, including tying his career high with five in the Orange’s win over Albany.
THE BARBER IS IN
Redshirt junior midfielder Ryan Barber (Camillus, N.Y.) has stepped up his production this season. Barber tallied three points (1g, 2a) in 20 career games coming into 2012. He has already matched that total through two games this season. Barber has two goals and one assist thus far. Both of his goals came in the first half of the season opener versus Albany.
Like Syracuse, the Cavaliers enter Sunday’s game unbeaten. Virginia is 4-0 and routed Mount St. Mary’s, 17-5, in its most recent outing.
Attackman Steele Stanwick, the 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner, is the Cavaliers’ catalyst. Stanwick leads the team in assists (10) and he is tied for the team lead in points (16). Against Stony Brook on Feb. 25, Stanwick totaled five points to become the third Virginia player to join the 100 goal/100 assist club. Stanwick is flanked by senior Chris Bocklet (10g, 6a) and freshman Owen Van Arsdale (6g, 4a) on attack. Bocklet tied his career high with six goals in the Mount St. Mary’s win.
Senior Colin Briggs leads a talented Virginia midfield. The 2011 NCAA Championship’s Most Outstanding Player, Briggs has seven goals and six assists this season. He runs primarily with Matt White (5g, 4a) and Rob Emery (4g, 3a) on the Cavaliers’ top line.
Defensively, Viginia is allowing only 5.75 goals per game, and the Cavaliers have held their last three opponents (VMI, Stony Brook and Mount St. Mary’s) to five goals apiece. Close defenders Scott McWilliams, Matt Lovejoy and Harry Prevas have started every game. LSM Chris LaPierre leads Virginia with 19 ground balls. Goalie Rob Fortunato has 35 saves and a .648 save percentage.
THE SERIES WITH VIRGINIA
In a remarkably competitive series, Virginia holds a 14-13 advantage all-time against the Orange. Syracuse has scored one more goal than the Cavaliers (356-355) in the 27 series meetings. Eleven games have been decided by one goal, including the four of the last five, and five meetings have been settled in overtime, including both 2008 encounters.
The Cavaliers have won seven of the last nine pairings overall, including six of the last seven regular-season contests. The Orange stopped Virginia’s six-game, regular-season series winning streak with a 12-10 victory at the Carrier Dome last year. It was SU’s first regular-season win over Virginia since 2004.
UP NEXT …
Syracuse opens BIG EAST play on Saturday, March 10 with a 1 p.m. contest against St. John’s at DaSilva Memorial Field in Queens.