No team likes to play Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The loudspeakers blare high-decibel rock music, the surface is artificial and there is no air-conditioning, not to mention that the Orangemen are virtually unbeatable in the place with an 86-6 record.
But one of those losses came Tuesday when the Orangemen were routed, yes routed, 15-7, by Virginia.
Now, No. 2 Johns Hopkins (3-0) has to play the No. 1 Orangemen (2-1) in the Dome tomorrow in one of the sports' greatest rivalries. Between them, Syracuse and Johns Hopkins have combined to win 12 of the 24 NCAA Division I men's lacrosse titles.
"Yeah, I probably would have liked it better going up there if Syracuse had won," said Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman. "That's all we needed was more fuel thrown in. But we'll go up there and see what happens."
Virginia's win over the Orangemen proved that the Cavaliers (4-0) are for real -- that last season, when the Cavaliers lost to Princeton, 9-8, in the title game, was no fluke.
They certainly got the Orangemen's attention.
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened," said Roy Simmons Jr., Syracuse's coach. "They outran us, and have more balance than any team in lacrosse. They are a team that has to be reckoned with."
Simmons is hoping his team can rebound against the Blue Jays. Syracuse had 42 shots against Virginia, but only 18 were on cage. If the Orangemen shoot as badly against Hopkins, which has great attackmen in Terry Riordan and Brian Piccola, this could be another blowout.
"We've got to shoot well, score early and quiet the crowd of 15,000," said Seaman.
End of Simmons line?
The Simmons coaching era at Syracuse may be coming to an end.
Roy Simmons Sr. coached the Orangemen from 1931 through 1970, and Roy Jr. has been in the top spot since 1971. The son, the only Division I coach to win five NCAA titles, is 58 and in his 24th season.
"Oh, I remember when I first took over and had some lean years," said Simmons, whose teams were 9-23 from 1973 through 1975. "I had to reach up just to touch bottom. The school was going through some financial problems, and we had to take away some scholarships.
"Since then I've been maligned, investigated and there has been insinuations," he said. "But overall, it's been great, the good outweighing the bad. But it may be time to move on and let someone else take over. I can see that happening shortly. When it does, I can't think of anyone better to run the program than my assistant, John Desko."
Desko was an All-American defenseman under Simmons in the late 1970s and is in his 15th year as a Syracuse assistant.
Spreading sport's joy
Georgetown's Alison Williams is believed to be only the
second African-American woman to coach a Division I team. Before taking over the Hoyas last season, she was head coach at Towson State for two years. The Hoyas were 11-3 last year.
Williams said she would like to make lacrosse more available to African-Americans, especially in the inner city.
"When I played at Temple, I don't remember seeing any other black females," said Williams, 30, who has no African-Americans on her roster. "But I'm seeing more now.
"At Temple, we would offer to go into the black community and have clinics or classes," said Williams. "I've talked about doing that here in the Washington area. It's definitely a national game that anyone can pick up."
Eyes on freshmen
Loyola defensemen Jamie Hanford and Virginia's Karl Zeller have been impressive as freshmen, but the best newcomer may be Syracuse attackman Casey Powell, who has eight goals and two assists in three games this season.
"The word is already out on Casey Powell," said Simmons. "He is not going to sneak up on anybody this year."
In Syracuse's 13-8 season-opening victory at Georgetown, Powell debuted with two goals and one assist while drawing the Hoyas' top defenseman, senior Ed McCabe.
"It's more physical [than high school]," Powell said. "But when you play against our defensemen every day in practice, they get you ready. It's great finally getting out and playing against someone other than them."