Irish offense explodes in win over Orange
Brian Plamondon | Monday, April 4, 2016
No. 2 Notre Dame played spoiler to No. 7 Syracuse on Saturday, as the Orange celebrated their 100th anniversary season of the sport. In front of over 200 former players, the Irish routed the 11-time national champion Orange, 17-7.
The Irish (7-1, 2-0 ACC) were not intimated by the huge crowd in Syracuse’s iconic Carrier Dome, as sophomore attack Mikey Wynne said it made the Irish hungrier.
“It was in the back of our heads, knowing that they would have a big crowd there,” Wynne said. “But I think we wanted it bad just from the start. We’ve been working really hard in practice, offensively especially. We just really wanted to show the country how good we are.”
Despite being the second ranked team in the country, Notre Dame has relied heavily on its defense this season. Prior to the Syracuse game, the Irish had scored in the single digits in four straight games. Against the Orange (5-3, 1-2 ACC), the floodgates opened for the Irish, who were partially led by Wynne’s four goals.
“I think it was just a lot of offensive movements off ball, looking for good shots and not settling for a decent one,” Wynne said. “Earlier in the year, we’d been settling for mediocre shots, and that has gotten us in trouble. But yesterday, we fought for really good ones, and we had a bunch of guys moving off ball, so I think that was a key.”
The game was never really much in doubt for the Irish, who opened up a 5-2 lead and extended it to five goals, 9-4, by halftime.
Syracuse scored two early second-half goals, courtesy of junior attack Jordan Evans, to close the gap, 9-6. Evans led the way for the Orange with three goals, while senior midfielder Tim Barber added a goal and two assists.
That would be the closest the Orange would get, however, as Notre Dame scored eight of the last nine goals of the game.
A few of those tallies would come from the stick of freshman attack Ryder Garnsey, who scored a career-high five goals for the Irish. Furthering Notre Dame’s offensive output was senior attack and preseason All-American Matt Kavanagh, who tallied a career-high nine points with three goals and six assists. Prior to the game, Kavanagh had been having a quiet year by his standards, scoring only seven goals and notching 11 assists in his first six games. Wynne said he believes Kavanagh’s big game against the Orange is a sign of things to come for the senior.
“I think it’s huge,” Wynne said. “We all know the kind of player [Kavanagh] is. We see it every day in practice. He’s been busting his butt getting back to the old Matt Kavanagh, and I think he’s awesome — it’s great to see him go out there and play like that. And I definitely think the rest of the nation took note of that. He’s back and he’s ready to go, and I’m really excited to see what the future has for him.”
Along with strong play from the Irish defense and 10 saves from junior goalie Shane Doss, Wynne and Kavanagh helped deal Syracuse its third consecutive loss. In addition, it was Syracuse’s worst home loss in 29 years.
For Notre Dame, however, one of the most important aspects of the game was having the outcome wrapped up fairly early. The last three games for the Irish had all been decided by one goal, including two that went to overtime.
“Tight games definitely help you down the line with experience and everything, but having a game where we could just go out there and dominate, it was very nice — kind of a relief to not be going down to the wire for once,” Wynne said.
Notre Dame will return to action Saturday against No. 11 Duke. The game, held at Arlotta Stadium, is slated to start at noon.