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The Penn men's lacrosse team faces the No. 7 Orangemen at home. Traditional excellence is a term that can be used to describe very few athletic programs. Even the best usually have their down years. For the Syracuse men's lacrosse program, however, there seems to be no other appropriate description. Syracuse (6-2) is the winner of six NCAA championships and was the breeding ground for NFL great Jim Brown, who is generally regarded as the greatest lacrosse player of all time. The Orangemen have appeared in the last 15 NCAA Final Fours, and tomorrow night at 7 p.m., they bring their tradition of excellence to Franklin Field to face the Quakers. Penn (4-6), however, is not phased by Syracuse's stellar reputation. "Everyone outside the lacrosse world thinks Syracuse is an unbeatable power," senior tri-captain Joe Mauro, who has scored 20 goals this season, said. "But this University of Pennsylvania team has never played that Syracuse team. Regardless of what happened in the past, there will be no intimidation on the field." Penn is coming off an impressive 14-4 drubbing of Villanova Wednesday night. The win was desperately needed as the Red and Blue have dropped several winnable games by close scores this season. Penn's play against the Wildcats showed improvement in several areas. The Quakers were able to control the flow of the game and scored several fast break goals after stopping the 'Cats on defense. "It was nice to see the players have some fun and put in a strong effort," Penn coach Marc Van Arsdale said of the Villanova win. "We were not competing against the best team, but they aren't bad either." Unlike Wednesday night, the Quakers will be competing against one of the best tomorrow. Led by coach Roy Simmons, who was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1992, the Orangemen are currently ranked No. 7 in the country. History does not bode well for the Quakers in this matchup. Since their first meeting in 1918, these two teams have faced each other 22 times. Penn has finished on the losing side after 20 of those games and has not beaten the Orange since 1919. In last year's contest, Syracuse rolled off 10 second-half goals to beat Quakers 19-10 at the Carrier Dome. "Last year's game will not have a large impact on where we're coming from," Van Arsdale said. "We'll let history be history." In order to prevent history from repeating itself, the Quakers must be sharp on several aspects of their game. "We can't let Syracuse have a big transition game," Mauro said. "We don't want to get our middies into a track meet with them. We are also putting in a specific defense to go against them and shut them down." One player the Quakers' defense must particularly try to stop is Casey Powell, one of only two collegiate athletes on the 1998 U.S. National Team. The Syracuse attackman and last year's Division I Player of the Year currently leads the nation with 6.5 points per game. He also leads the NCAA in goals and is eighth in assists. "Casey Powell is the Michael Jordan of lacrosse right now," Van Arsdale said. "Personally, I think he is the best player in the world." The Quakers recognize the threat Powell poses and know that they must have long possessions in order to keep the ball out of his hands. Mauro believes it is important for Penn to keep the ball for at least 45 seconds to a minute on each possession. Keeping the ball away from Powell, though, is not the only thing the Quakers must do to win. "We can't give him too much attention, because they have other guys who can beat you," goalie Matt Schroeder said. With the improved play shown in the Villanova game and the energy the crowd will bring to Franklin Field during Spring Fling weekend, Penn should compete with Syracuse. For a team as traditionally excellent as the Orange, though, competing with them is not as easy as it sounds.

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