SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Always one of the most-anticipated games of the college lacrosse season, Syracuse (1-1) and Virginia (4-0) renew their annual rivalry Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 6 in this week’s USILA Coaches’ Poll and represent SU’s first ranked foe of the 2013 campaign.
Friday’s matchup marks the first time since 2007 that neither side has been ranked in the top five of the coaches’ poll at the time of the game.
Tickets are available online at SUAthletics.com, over the phone (1-888-DOMETIX), or in person at the Carrier Dome Box Office during normal business hours. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for youth ages 12 and under. ‘Cuse Kids Club members get in free with their membership card. Parking is $10.
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 517 career wins. Starsia is the active leader with 345 career victories. He is 345-122 overall. Desko is ninth among active Division I coaches with 172 victories. Overall, Desko is 172-55.
Desko’s .758 winning percentage is first among active Division I coaches. Starsia ranks third on that list with a .739 winning percentage. In addition, Desko and Starsia are two of the four active Division I coaches to win least three NCAA titles. The pair have combined for nine national championships overall (Desko – 5, Starsia – 4). In head-to-head meetings, Starsia holds a 10-8 edge versus Desko.
ABOUT THE ORANGE
Syracuse bounced back from its season-opening loss to Albany with a 6-2 victory against Army last weekend. Defense ruled the day as the Orange limited the Black Knights to 25 shots and held attackman Garrett Thul without a goal for the first time since March 30, 2010.
Redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue (Camillus, N.Y.) recorded a goal and his first career assist in the contest. Donahue leads the Orange with four goals this season.
Midfielder JoJo Marasco (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) is the team’s leading scorer with nine points (three goals, six assists), including a career-best eight versus Albany in the season opener.
Senior Brian Megill (Clark, N.J.), who was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week for the first time for his work on Thul, heads an SU defense that owns a goals-against average of 8.64. Megill is third in the country in caused turnovers per game (3.0).
Sophomore Bobby Wardwell (Clifton Park, N.Y.) backstops the unit. He has 18 saves on the year. Wardwell set an SU Carrier Dome record for save percentage in the Army game (.846), making 11 saves and allowing just two goals.
SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS
The Cavaliers enter Friday’s game unbeaten. Virginia is 4-0 and routed Mount St. Mary’s, 18-11, in its most recent outing. Not surprisingly the Cavaliers have one of the top offenses in the nation. They are averaging 15.5 goals and 55.5 shots per game. In addition, they lead the NCAA in ground balls per contest (47.3). Virginia has at least 13 goals in each of its four wins.
The one-two punch of juniors Mark Cockerton and Nick O’Reilly key the Virginia attack. Cockerton leads the squad with 17 goals in three games (5.7 per game) and he tallied six Tuesday versus Mount St. Mary’s. O’Reilly leads the Cavs in points (19) and assists (13) after missing all of 2012. Sophomore Owen Van Arsdale (five goals, seven assists) rounds of the Virginia starting attack unit.
Seniors Matt White and Chris LaPierre are the stars of a talented Virginia midfield. White is team’s top midfield scorer with 13 points. LaPierre, a preseason first-team All-American, has missed the last three games due to injury. He did play in Virginia’s season-opening win against Drexel.
Defensively, Virginia is allowing 8.5 goals per game. Close defenders Harry Prevas (13 ground balls) and Scott McWilliams (19 ground balls) anchor the unit. Both have also contributed offensively. McWilliams has one goal and two assists, while Prevas has one assist. Freshman goalkeeper Dan Marino has a 4-0 record with 28 saves and an 8.72 goals-against average.
THE SYRACUSE-VIRGINIA SERIES
In a remarkably competitive series, Virginia holds a 15-13 advantage all-time against the Orange. Virginia has scored three more goals than the Orange (369-366) in the 28 series meetings. Eleven games have been decided by one goal, including the four of the last six, and five meetings have been settled in overtime.
The Cavaliers have won eight of the last 10 pairings, including seven of the last eight regular-season contests. In March 2011, Syracuse emerged with a 12-10 victory at the Carrier Dome, its first regular-season win against the Cavaliers since 2004. Last year, the Cavs beat the Orange, 14-10, in Charlottesville.