Notre Dame takes on Syracuse in conference clash
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, April 1, 2016
No. 2 Notre Dame will begin the toughest stretch of its schedule as it travels to the Carrier Dome to face No. 7 Syracuse on Saturday.
The two highest-ranked ACC teams will go head-to-head for the fourth time as conference rivals since both teams joined the ACC in 2014. The Irish (6-1, 1-0 ACC) lead the series since then by a 2-1 mark and will look to add another game to the win column in the rivalry, while attempting to win their first ever game in the Carrier Dome. The two programs have faced off a total of 11 times and the Orange (5-2, ACC 1-1) lead the all-time series, 8-3. Last season, it took two overtimes, but the Irish survived the matchup, winning 13-12.
The Irish understand that the implications Saturday’s matchup carry are pivotal for post-season seeding. After their win against the Orange last year, the Irish went on to win three straight, including wins against then No. 7 Duke and No. 2 North Carolina. The late-season win streak helped the Irish earn the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament.
“This game is very important to our season, especially because it’s an ACC match-up,” sophomore attack Mikey Wynne said. “We go out and expect our best effort to win every game, so if we get anything less, we’ll be disappointed. This games result does not define our season by any means, but it would be a nice step in the direction that we want to go.”
If the top-10 matchup headline wasn’t enough, both the Irish and Orange will be led by two of today’s most prominent college players. Senior attack Matt Kavanagh is third in the nation in points with 193 among active players and Orange senior attack Dylan Donahue is in second with 199 points. In last season’s matchup, Donahue scored seven goals to force the contest into overtime.
“[When I think of Dylan Donahue], I think of a great player who is smart and plays within his game,” Wynne said. “He is so consistent and makes the plays that need to be made in order for Syracuse to succeed. I respect his game and like the way he plays.”
Donahue leads Syracuse this season with 33 point, including 20 assists and 13 goals. The Camillus, New York native led the Orange to a strong 5-0 start before dropping the last two contests to No. 9 Johns Hopkins, and No. 11 Duke in overtime. Syracuse has not lost three straight games since 2007.
“This is a Syracuse team with some new faces and some familiar ones from last year,” junior goalie Shane Doss said. “Playing at their stadium will be a tough challenge, and they are coming off of two tough losses, so they’ll be hungry for a win.”
Notre Dame is coming off of two wins that were decided by just one goal against unranked opponents, but despite these close contests, the Irish are confident that their play is only getting better as the regular season comes to a close. The Irish has the nation’s top-ranked defense, allowing just 6.57 goals per game. That ranking will be challenged Saturday against the fourth-ranked Orange offense, which is averaging 13.86 goals per game.
“We’ve had two close games, but we feel that in a season full of upsets, being able to get a win [against Syracuse] is the most important thing,” Doss said. “We’re looking at the mistakes that we made and things we need to do to put together a complete game, but, overall, we feel that we’re getting better every week.”
Notre Dame will face off against Syracuse on Saturday at 5 p.m.