If the 100th meeting between the Syracuse and Hobart men's lacrosse teams is anything like the 99th or the 98th, the No. 4 Orange will face a firestorm of emotion at 3 p.m. Saturday in Geneva, N.Y.
The Statesmen are 4-7 in Greg Raymond's inaugural season as head coach, thanks in large part to the loss of senior star attackman Alex Love to an abdominal muscle problem and a host of other key injuries and suspensions. On paper, it's certainly a one-sided affair.
"When you look at the Hobart-Syracuse game, I think you can throw the records right out the window because it's always been a very competitive game," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "They always play well against Syracuse."
The rivalry, which is fought for the Kraus-Simmons Trophy, is heated between two upstate New York teams that have been playing each other for nearly a century. The past two seasons, each team has won on the other's turf by a 13-12 score. Last year, the Orange blew a late three-goal lead in the Carrier Dome.
"You grow up watching it and know it and appreciate it," said Raymond, a Corning native and former Johns Hopkins player. "I'm well aware of what Hobart-Syracuse means. There's a sign on sign on my door that says 'Babe Kraus' [a Lacrosse Hall of Famer who coached at Hobart folr 40 years]. There are pictures of him everywhere. And there is the trophy. I'm reminded of it every single day. It's part of the reason I wanted to be here. I can tell recruits about an amazing rivalry we have with a school right up road."
It's remains one even though, in Raymond's words, it is a "bit of David and Goliath," considering the Orange has won 11 Division I national titles while the Statesmen, once a Division III superpower, have been a middle-of-the-pack team since making the jump to Division I in the mid-1990s. That the school must operate under a D-III rule prohibiting athletic scholarships makes it tougher still. Yet the rivalry survives.
"One thing we talked about yesterday right before practice was the kind of execution we'll need against Syracuse," Raymond said. "It's easy to get overcome with who Syracuse is and how good they are. But what you find in rivalry games is the records get erased a little bit. There's a ton of emption, and a lot of that emotion will drive the execution. We're more focused on how enjoyable it can be if we let it all hang out, just roll the ball out there and play."
Raymond said it is unlikely that Love, who along with fellow seniors Peter Zonino and crafty attackman Cam Stone, was an Orange killers last season, will play. A medical redshirt remains on the table, although the issue has yet to be decided.
"He's still fighting his way back," Raymond said. "Talk of a redshirt year is certainly there. He hasn't played enough lacrosse this year if he has to call it quits. With that being said, we still have life here. We have a big conference game coming up with St. Joseph's and the NEC tournament. We're playing both cards."