Irish dethrone No. 1 Syracuse in double overtime
Brian Plamondon | Monday, March 30, 2015
After two and half hours of lacrosse Saturday at Arlotta Stadium, nothing had been resolved between the top two teams in the country. Then, Irish senior midfielder Jack Near, who had the game-winning goal last year against Syracuse in the ACC Championship, sent a raucous crowd of 3,602 fans to their feet as No. 2 Notre Dame outlasted No. 1 Syracuse 13-12 in double overtime.
“I realized I had a short [stick defender] on me, and that’s a play we like,” Near said. “They didn’t slide, and I kind of just went to the net. I wasn’t [even] sure if it went in or not.”
Near was part of a balanced Irish attack that saw nine different players score a goal. Near, senior midfielder Nick Ossello, sophomore midfielder Sergio Perkovic and freshman attack Mikey Wynne paced Notre Dame (6-1, 2-0 ACC) with two goals apiece, while junior attack Matt Kavanagh added a goal and a game-high three assists.
Syracuse (7-1, 2-1 ACC) was more or less a one-man show with redshirt junior attack Dylan Donahue exploding for seven goals.
As pleased as Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan was with his team, he said he reminded them that with the strength of Notre Dame’s opponents, they won’t have an easy game the rest of the season.
“I told the team … while they were celebrating, I checked with the NCAA, and we still have to play Duke next week,” Corrigan said. “We’re playing a bunch of teams that could be [ranked] one or two for the rest of the year. …We had a great week of preparation this week, probably our best week of preparation for a game, and we needed every bit of it.”
The Irish took a 5-3 lead into halftime before opening up a six-goal lead 6:29 into the third quarter, which happened to be Syracuse’s largest deficit all season. Yet, Notre Dame needed that entire cushion, as it spotted the Orange six of the next seven goals. The sequence began with Orange redshirt senior midfielder Nicky Galasso beating Irish sophomore goalie Shane Doss. Galasso would finish with two goals and two assists. The story for Syracuse, however, was Donahue. He netted four goals during the Orange’s run to close the gap to 10-9 with 10:20 to play in regulation.
“[Donahue] gets rid of the ball so quickly that it’s almost impossible for goalies to catch up to that ball,” Corrigan said. “But you have to defend them as a team because they play together so well as a team.”
Graduate student midfielder Jim Marlatt stopped the bleeding for Notre Dame before Syracuse went on a 3-0 run to take their first lead of the game, 12-11, with just 1:06 left.
While faceoffs were by committee for most of the game, Corrigan trotted out sophomore midfielder P.J. Finley to do battle with Syracuse sophomore specialist Ben Williams, who finished the day 18 of 29 on faceoffs. Finley won the draw and went straight to the net to score in under six seconds. It was Finley’s first collegiate goal.
After failing to score during their last possession of regulation, the Irish started overtime with possession. After they came up empty again, Syracuse took the last shot of overtime, but Doss stymied Donahue’s attempt at the go-ahead goal. Doss was strong all day, finishing with 12 saves.
“He made all the stops he could make and more,” Kavanagh said.
Everything culminated in Near’s shot 1:06 into the second overtime period.
“We trust [Jack] in those situations,” Corrigan said. “We know Jack in that situation is really hard to cover. Nobody wants to come off of [Kavanagh, Wynne and senior attack Conor Doyle] in that situation.”
Still, Corrigan said the Irish will get right back to work because in the ACC every game is meaningful.
“I think our guys really enjoy competing at [this] level, knowing that you can enjoy this one but it doesn’t change the fact that on Monday we have to get back to work because it just keeps coming,” Corrigan said. “We’re not the team that we want to be yet. We’re the team that we were today and it was just barely good enough today. But if we’re not better than this a month from now, we’re not good enough.”
The Irish head to Durham, North Carolina, this weekend for a showdown with ACC foe No. 6 Duke. Faceoff is slated for 5 p.m. Saturday.