Editor’s note: We’re moving along with the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse rivalries, highlighting the historic matchup between the Syracuse Orange and the Virginia Cavaliers. Each day we’re highlighting a different rivalry and sharing what you need to know about it. Welcome to Rivalry Week 2014!
When people talk lacrosse, two of the teams most often spoken about across the U.S. are the Syracuse University Orange and the University of Virginia Cavaliers. Whether the person you’re talking to knows much about lacrosse or not, these are two teams that often on the tip of a person’s tongue when talking lax.
Unlike the Battle for Tobacco Road, this rivalry isn’t quite as rooted across all sports. Instead, it’s considered one of the most monumental match-ups in our sport year after year.
Although Syracuse and Virginia are now in the ACC together, this wasn’t always the case. With almost 500 miles in between them, the two lacrosse teams have actually only faced off against one another 30 times. Currently the Cavaliers lead the series 16-14.
It’s a rivalry that has been battled out in crucial moments, like the NCAA Tournament or the National Championship Game. Flashback to 1999!
Syracuse is 5-5 at home against UVA, and the ‘Hoos lead 6-5 in Charlottesville. At neutral site locations, UVA leads 6-4.
Last year the Orange came out on top in OT, this year it was Virginia’s turn to take the W, 17-12.
With the wins alternating between institutions and a history of monumental battles, often for the top seat, it was a no-brainer for us to highlight this lovely rivalry spearheaded by some of the best to ever coach the game.
Coach Dom Starsia has led the UVA men’s lacrosse team for over 21 years now, and John Desko has been the skipper of the Orange for 15 years. Since Desko has taken over, Starsia has come out on top, 11 out of 20 times. Both coaches have taken their teams to quite a few National Championships, Desko with 5 championship wins and Starsia collecting 4 for UVA.
These two storied programs have won 4 of the last 8 NCAA Division I championships when combined.
Now that the Orange have left the Big East for the strongest lacrosse conference, UVA and Cuse have been reunited as ACC rivals. Finally, guaranteed to compete against one another every season.
Virginia long pole, Scott McWilliams, had a few comments on this year’s game…
I think Syracuse week is always one of the more exciting weeks for us in general. We’re always looking forward to playing these guys because they always give us a good game.”
Dom Starsia also weighs in on the new conference alignment with Syracuse,
This one now has more at stake in terms of conference alignment, possible seedings for the conference tournament later in the spring, it has put a little more edge on the game than we’ve had previously. I think both teams want to get this one.”
It may not be the closest in proximity, the longest running or the most popular rivalry in all of college sports, but the Syracuse/Virginia matchup will continue entertaining us on the lacrosse field for years to come. Now that both schools are aligned in the ACC, we’re likely to see this heated battle on national television at least once or twice a season.
I look forward to watching these games with my grandkids one day, reminiscing back to the ’99 National Championship and the conference jump of 2014.
Long live the Wahoo vs. Orange war!