No. 1 Notre Dame looks forward to top-10 face-off with Syracuse
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, March 31, 2017
A few days after placing the most mid-season All-Americans in the country through Inside Lacrosse, No. 1 Notre Dame will play host to No. 4 Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.
The Irish (5-1, 1-0 ACC), who have had a week’s rest to prepare for their second conference matchup, continue to collect a multitude of accolades. Sophomore attackman Ryder Garnsey, who leads the team with 28 points; senior defenseman Garrett Epple, who leads Notre Dame with 12 forced turnovers; and junior midfielder John Sexton, who earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his performance against Ohio State, all earned first-team midseason All-American honors. Sophomore midfielder Drew Schantz was named second-team midseason All-American.
Even with the national honors, however, Garnsey said the team still has its eyes set on accomplishing its season goal of winning the national title.
“It’s nice to get that type of recognition,” Garnsey said. “But there’s no room for getting a big head or anything like that because all it will do is distract our team from the ultimate goal, and the individual awards are great, but at the end of the day, everyone is here to win a national championship, not to be named an All-American.”
Collecting awards week after week, the Irish have undoubtedly cemented themselves as one of the most talented teams in the nation. On Saturday, Notre Dame’s elite talent will be put to the test against another talented team in the Orange (6-1, 2-0), who are riding a four-game winning streak.
“We’ve been watching tape on them all week,” Garnsey said. “Coaches do a great job preparing the scouting report … and obviously they’re a great team. They’re 6-1 now, and they’ve played I think five top-20 opponents, so they’ve clearly earned their ranking. If we go into the game and focus on what we do well, and are disciplined about our game plan, I think we’ll be fine.”
Despite being ranked as one of the country’s best, Syracuse has struggled to separate itself from its opponents this season winning all but its first game by just one score, but Notre Dame isn’t concerned with the Orange’s past performances.
Garnsey, who is tied for the scoring lead with junior attack Mikey Wynne with 14 goals, said that the Irish are simply going to execute the game plan they have created for this week. Whether they win by one or by 10, a win over a top-five opponent will be just as significant.
“We’ve been there before,” Garnsey said. “Against Virginia, we were up three at the half. We kind of had a bad third quarter and let them creep back into the game. I think that experience will help us. We know what not to do now, so I think just maintaining our focus when runs are made in the game is going to help us kind of step on their throats a little bit rather than let them hang around.”
Led by Orange senior midfielder Nick Mariano, who won ACC co-offensive Player of the Week alongside Irish senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic this week, Syracuse will look to reverse last year’s 17-7 loss at the Carrier Dome against Notre Dame at Arlotta Stadium. The Orange are currently ranked 14th in the country in scoring offense, netting 12.14 goals per game. The Irish trail just behind them, averaging 11.67 goals per game.
The Irish will also be faced with the challenge of playing an offense that takes care of the ball better than any other team in the ACC, averaging just 10.43 turnovers per game. In addition to their offensive discipline, Syracuse also wins 53.7 percent of its face-offs, which has been a struggle for the Irish, who are last in the ACC winning just 44.9 percent of their face-offs.
With a week off since playing its last home game, Garnsey said his team is eager to get back in front of the home crowd in yet another top-five matchup.
“We love playing at Arlotta,” Garnsey said. “We play a great schedule that Coach [Corrigan] sets out for us, so it’s not necessarily hard to get up for any game that we play, but when an ACC opponent comes in, who is also in the top five, … the guys are ready to go Saturday.”
Notre Dame will face off against Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium at noon.