ALBANY — Perhaps the most-anticipated regular-season home game in UAlbany men’s lacrosse history was supposed to take place Friday night.
UAlbany and Syracuse have played every year since 2004, a total of 18 matchups that also included first-round NCAA tournament games in 2004 and 2016. None of those 18 games, though, were played in Albany.
That was supposed to change Friday night with the programs’ 19th meeting.
Friday should have been the first visit to Albany for one of college lacrosse’s most storied programs, a showdown that would have packed Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. Instead, with the college lacrosse season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, what should have been a raucous Casey Stadium will instead stay silent.
Still, UAlbany coach Scott Marr said he was confident that Syracuse will eventually make its first trip to the Capital Region, hopefully as soon as 2021. Marr said he plans to speak soon with Syracuse coach John Desko and director of operations Roy Simmons III about the future of the series.
“We haven’t spoken yet, but hopefully we’ll speak soon and talk about getting them out here next year,” Marr said. “We’re trying to make it happen, not only for a game, but for the community itself to have the opportunity to see a Syracuse-Albany game here in Albany.”
The chance to finally play Syracuse at home came largely because the Carrier Dome is in the middle of a major renovation project, including the installation of a new roof. The Orange played its first four games in the dome this season in February before construction began, with the team’s two other home games later in the year scheduled to be held at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
However, Marr said Desko and he had been talking about alternating the site of the annual rivalry game for a while.
“We’ve been talking for, seriously, probably the last five years about trying to get it on our schedule at a different time,” Marr said. “He was all for it, and we were for it as well. It’s unfortunate circumstances that we can’t play this year, but hopefully we’ll get it together next year.”
Syracuse (5-0) was ranked No. 1 in both the media and coaches polls at the time of the season’s cancellation. The Orange featured a pair of former Section II standouts in key roles with Niskayuna High School graduate Lucas Quinn in the midfield and Shaker High School product Stephen Rehfuss starting at attack.
UAlbany (2-3) lost its final two games prior to the season’s cancellation, which came just before the Great Danes were set to begin America East play. Syracuse was one of four top-10 teams on UAlbany’s non-conference schedule for 2020. UAlbany lost to both Cornell and Maryland prior to the cancellation of the season, and was also set to play Yale on April 18.
The Syracuse game was the highlight of UAlbany’s home season, and a driving force behind ticket sales campaigns for the year. But as much as missing out on the game — and the potential of the season — sting, Marr kept things in perspective.
“We were certainly looking forward to it,” he said. “Just disappointed with how things are going with the season, obviously, but we’re in much bigger times than just sports right now, so we need to all sit back and accept the fact that it is what it is. We’ve got to make sure that we take care of each other and take care of this crisis that we’re in.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.