The last team to win back-to-back NCAA Division I men's lacrosse championships was Syracuse in 2008 and 2009.
That fact can be used as motivation for both the defending champion and its opponents during the following year. But every coach would like to be in that situation, coming off a championship.
"We tried to embrace the fact that we had earned the right to be defending national champions [rather than run away from it]," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who has won four NCAA titles while coaching the Cavaliers. "At the same time, there is nothing quite as complicated for a college athlete as the burden of heightened expectations.
"Think of Loyola being unranked in the fall of 2011, knowing they had a pretty good group. They had that pebble in their shoe throughout 2012, could use it effectively to their advantage at any time as they pushed through to the championship. Now, think what it was like for them going into 2013 having had nine months of people telling them how wonderful they are."
While Duke, the 2013 national champion, will have to face that pressure this year, Starsia doesn't think the Blue Devils would trade their position heading into this season.
"It is lame to complain about having to deal with the 'problem' of defending the championship," he said. "We all want that issue ... at the same time, there is no question that figuring how to approach the year following is a complicated question."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun