Syracuse University, which was 42-1 while winning the past three National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championships, is in a strange position this season.
The Orangemen, without the superstar Gait brothers, Paul and Gary, have lost two games this season, the most since 1987, when they were 9-4 in the Gaits' freshman season.
"Losing the Gaits is like being weaned -- a very big adjustment," said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons. "If someone told me how much the team would miss them, I wouldn't have believed him. In addition to losing the Gaits, we also lost 11 other seniors, and they represented 82 percent of our scoring. But we are making adjustments and things are coming around."
The Orangemen, ranked No. 9 in The Sun's poll, ripped Dartmouth,23-7, Saturday and will play Hofstra at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
"We lost to North Carolina, and we dropped in the polls like a rock," Simmons said. "Then we lost to Hopkins and we went even further down. We recovered a little this week, but I wonder if we'll ever make it back near the top. We still have some pretty good teams on our schedule, like Hofstra, Cornell, Hobart and Massachusetts. . . . [We] have a good record, but the selectors will say we didn't play anyone, although I've never ducked anyone and would love to play all the top teams in the country."
Gary Gait said: "We've only lost two games and we can go 10-2 and be there again at the end. How many teams have to play North Carolina and Johns Hopkins so early in the season like Syracuse does? Not many. We'll be back."
Gait, who will graduate from Syracuse this summer with a degree in political science, works out the Orangemen several days a week and plays indoor lacrosse with the Detroit Turbos each weekend. The Turbos will play the Baltimore Thunder in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship game Saturday at the Baltimore Arena.