Notre Dame squares off against No. 10 Orange
Kit Loughran | Friday, March 28, 2014
No. 7 Notre Dame continues its road campaign and looks to build on its two straight wins in a game against No. 10 Syracuse on Saturday.The Irish (4-2, 2-0 ACC) will face the Orange (4-3, 0-3) in their third ACC matchup of the season. The Irish and the Orange, previous Big East rivals, faced each other two times last season. Notre Dame fell to Syracuse 10-4 at the Big City Classic on April 27, 2013, and then again five days later, 9-3, at the Big East Semifinals on May 2, 2013.
“We’re all really excited about playing Syracuse, especially up in the Dome,” senior captain and defenseman Stephen O’Hara said. “Coach Corrigan told us earlier in the week we have never beat them at their place, so that brings an extra level of excitement, and last year they beat us twice in a row pretty well, so there is a revenge factor as well.”
Now both members of the ACC are currently ranked in the top 10 and the Irish are guaranteed another tough conference matchup this weekend, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said.
“Syracuse is a team that was arguably playing the best lacrosse in the country at the end of last season,” Corrigan said. “They had a lot of those players from last year coming back and they’ve built on that sense last year, so it’s going to be a challenge in a lot of ways.”
Offensively, the Orange dominate the field, averaging 12.71 goals per game for a total of 89 goals on the season. Returning attackmen redshirt sophomore Dylan Donahue and junior Kevin Rice lead the Orange offense in points with 27 and 25 on the season, respectively.
Syracuse’s explosive offensive unit presents perhaps Saturday’s biggest challenge, Corrigan said.
“They have a lot of weapons offensively, and they strike with quick strike potential on transition,” Corrigan said. “We need to focus on not giving them that transition and controlling the ball so that we control the tempo of the game.”
The Syracuse offense may pose a threat to the Irish but the Irish boast a powerful attack of their own. Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh leads the Irish offense, with 20 goals on the season. In Notre Dame’s 13-7 win over Ohio State on Tuesday, Kavanagh scored seven goals to tie the program’s record for most goals in a game.
“We are hoping to be very selective and break down their potential zone defense that they might throw at us,” Kavanagh said. “If they play man-to-man defense we are confident we can break their defense down, but if they go zone, it might take a little more patience and better shot selection for us to be successful.”
Kavanagh and the rest of the Irish attack, including senior Jim Marlatt and junior Conor Doyle, may be averaging 12.50 goals per game on the season, but Kavanagh said they can improve against Syracuse.
“We could definitely work on our 6-on-6 offense and try and manufacture more goals in that part of the game,” he said. “If we can score against their zone, I think we will have a good day.”
The Orange will be looking to avenge their 21-7 loss to No. 3 Duke on Saturday. Syracuse fell immediately behind 8-2 in the first quarter, and the Blue Devils (8-2, 2-1) went on to collect 13 more goals over the next three quarters as the Orange failed to give their offense momentum.
In addition to their win over Ohio State, the Irish also claimed an 18-9 win over Virginia on March 15 and sit atop the ACC standings.
“I think our ability to score in so many different ways is helping us score and win games right now,” Kavanagh said. “We have 19 guys on our team who have scored in a game. When you have that many people contributing, it doesn’t allow a team to focus in on stopping 2 or 3 certain guys, it makes them focus on our team as a whole.”
The Irish return to ACC play against Syracuse on Saturday at noon in the Carrier Dome. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and WatchESPN.