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Quinton Zielke | NCAA | March 4, 2018

Historic ACC rivals meet in crucial ranked matchup to open conference play

Five-hundred miles separate ACC rivals Syracuse and Virginia. The pair of historic lacrosse schools meet again Sunday afternoon in Chalottesville, Virginia. Klöckner Stadium sets the scene for each team’s first conference game in this young season.

No. 12 Syracuse currently sits at 2-1 with its lone loss coming against current No. 1-ranked Albany. After trailing by five goals on two separate occasions against Army, the Orange stormed back and won a triple overtime thriller on a Ryan Simmons’, goalie assisted goal.

Sunday marks the first time Syracuse will hit the road this season.

When asked about the trip, Orange coach John Desko said, “It’s our first game away from the Carrier Dome this season, and the first road trip for a number of guys. Anytime you play someone on the road, especially a quality team like Virginia, it’s certainly a challenge.”

With Sunday being the Cavaliers’ third home game, Virginia coach Lars Tiffany said, “Our men love playing in Klöckner. Our fans have proven to be amongst the best in the college lacrosse world. They can give us a significant boost!”

No. 4 Virginia has been firing on all cylinders. Sitting at 4-0, the Cavaliers’ offense has posted at least 13 goals in each of their games this season. Sophomore Michael Kraus has scored nine goals and tallied five assists in his past two games, while freshman Ian Laviano has added nine goals of his own in that stretch.

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The Orange must slow down Kraus and the goal-churning Cavaliers’ offense if they want to emerge victorious. Desko praised his defense’s ability to step up, gain quick experience and overcome the test against a “very good Army team,” but mentioned the need to carry that experience into Sunday’s matchup.

Virginia will needs its young bucks to continue their offensive dominance to come out on top against Syracuse. How does one prepare for a team filled with momentum from a 3OT win? According to Tiffany, The Cavaliers “feel fortunate to have more film to assess Syracuse.”

It is essential for both teams to pick up their first Atlantic Coast Conference win on Sunday.

“It’s our first conference game, which is always crucial," Desko said. "There’s only four chances to pick up wins in ACC play, with only four teams making the conference tournament, every conference game is crucial and getting off to a 1-0 start would be big for us."

Tiffany echoed similar thoughts on the upcoming matchup.

“A win Sunday is our quest, he said. "It will require a high level of skilled play and sound decision-making to defend a dangerous offensive unit.  A win on Sunday will signify we played well on both ends of the field because beating Syracuse demands such.”

RANKINGS: Red-hot Albany ranked No. 1 in latest Inside Lacrosse poll

A Sunday afternoon matchup in Charlottesville between a pair of historic, top-15 rivals is a scene the lacrosse world dreams of.

Will the Orange win their fourth consecutive contest against the Cavaliers? Or will the Cavalier’s high-powered offense prove too much for the Orange? The opening face off is set for 3 p.m. and can be seen on the ACC Network.