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Syracuse men’s lacrosse: How will the Orange’s lack of postseason experience play in the tournament?

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The Dome will host postseason lacrosse once more, but is the youthful ‘Cuse squad prepared for this new chapter?

For the first time since 2021, the Syracuse Orange are back in the NCAA Tournament—a two-year hiatus from the postseason that not too long ago would have seemed unthinkable.

They are going to host their first tournament game since 2018 on Sunday night and are also trying to win a tournament for the first time since 2017.

Three, six, and seven years have passed since those droughts began, but more noteworthy achievements date back more than ten years.

Simple statistics like the mind-boggling fact that they haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game in seven years serve as an example of what has become of the programme. In the context of the 2024 Orange, however, they mean that they are essentially a squad without any collegiate postseason experience when they head into May.

There is a tiny group of those who have previously played in important events. In 2022, Princeton’s Jake Stevens and Sammy English made it to the Final Four. Last season, Mason Kohn represented Tufts in the Division III National Championship game. Though there are others, most of this team has never made it to May Madness before.

Like any sport, postseason lacrosse is a distinct animal. Lacrosse without a net is what it is. It calls on you to execute at your highest level of intensity while using all of your talents, teamwork, and cohesiveness. In certain situations, like late in a game when you need to make a play to win, it also takes tenacity and perseverance to finish the job.

This year, we’ve seen them persevere through tight games and make clutch plays to win. While they have suffered greatly in recent years, they have demonstrated the ability to complete tasks (Hopkins, Virginia) despite their failures along the road (Maryland, Army, Cornell).

The postseason hits different, though, and the problem is there’s just no way to truly prepare for it until you’re in the middle of it, facing the pressure of the moment.

Will the offense lean on the experience of Stevens and English, who scored the game winner in the Virginia thriller a few weeks ago? Or is one of the young players ready to step up in his first taste of the big time?

We know this is an offense that works extremely well together, that’s why they rank second in the country in assists per game (9.56). But the question all year about them, even before making it to the postseason, was do they have a player who can win his matchup to help get a goal late in the game when you need him to the most?

English did it in the final minute against Virginia, so do they lean heavy on his experience coming out of a fourth quarter timeout? Do they look to one of the young guns, or can they keep up the great passing for a goal in the tensest of moments?

The same questions abide all over the field, whether it be winning a matchup on defense, causing a turnover, making a save, or picking up a key ground ball.

Much like the players themselves, we won’t truly know the answers until we see it happen with the season on the line.

One thing is for sure, though. On Sunday, this team will take another step back up the ladder in their quest to rise back up the ranks of the sport; officially gaining that first bit of postseason experience that they need to eventually reach the ultimate goal.

 

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