No. 1 Notre Dame falls to Syracuse in tightly-contested matchup
Manuel De Jesus | Monday, April 3, 2017
In what turned out to be its fifth straight one-goal victory, No. 4 Syracuse squeaked by No. 1 Notre Dame at Arlotta Stadium on Saturday, winning 11-10.
Led by senior midfielder Nick Mariano, who scored a game-high four goals, the Orange (7-1, 3-0 ACC) gave the Irish (5-2, 1-1) all they could handle offensively. On paper, the game was just about evenly matched: The Orange committed nine turnovers, while the Irish recorded 10. Syracuse had the advantage on ground balls, winning 21 to Notre Dame’s 19, and Notre Dame won 13 of the 24 faceoffs on the day.
However, what separated the Orange from the Irish besides the number of shots taken — Syracuse recorded 38 shots, while Notre Dame fired off 30 — was time of possession.
Both teams traded scores in the first quarter, which was highlighted by Irish sophomore midfielder Brendan Gleason’s two goals. The Essex, Vermont, native opened up the scoring halfway through the opening quarter by taking a pass from sophomore attack Ryder Garnsey and converting it into a score from about 10 yards out. In the last four minutes of the quarter, the Orange scored three goals, but the Irish added on a couple more to keep the score tied, 3-3, heading into the second quarter.
That’s when Syracuse made an adjustment that Notre Dame struggled to defend.
Each time the Orange took possession, they moved the ball around the entirety of the field, forcing the Irish to exhaust their efforts defensively for minutes at a time. Despite Notre Dame’s tight defense, Syracuse made timely passes and took accurate shots that earned it the lead.
After a score from Notre Dame to open the second quarter, Syracuse’s patient offense went on a 4-1 run. Heading into the second half, the Orange outshot the Irish 23 to 13, which gave them a 7-5 lead at the break.
“They kept the ball away from us for a good part of the second quarter, and I think our guys got — for a lack of a better term — greedy offensively,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We were getting good things early in possessions, and sometimes when you’re getting good things early in a possession, it makes it hard to wait for a great thing. That’s what we needed to do. Just to be able to play more offense and really just be a bit more efficient.”
Down 9-6 in the third quarter, the Irish offense found its spark when sophomore midfielder Timmy Phillips took a pass from Garnsey and scored a flashy, behind-the-back goal five yards away from the goal. About two minutes later, Garnsey — who was held scoreless throughout nearly three quarters of the game — maneuvered past his defender to get a clear shot in the middle of the field, which went in for a goal.
To end the quarter, Irish captain and senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic muscled his way past two defenders and launched a shot right into the top left corner of the Syracuse net to tie the game at nine. With each goal, the over-capacity crowd’s cheers grew with intensity.
Corrigan said the team’s late third quarter run was just another example of how composed and experienced Notre Dame is as a team, despite a three-goal deficit.
“We knew that it was going to be a close game,” Corrigan said. “I don’t think we felt any insecurities about where we were at that point, but again, we felt like — in the second quarter, I think they had 14 shots, [and] we had four. You can’t win many games when you get outshot by 10 shots in a quarter. We knew we had to even that.”
In the final quarter, however, the Irish were only able to muster up enough offense for one goal. Syracuse scored two goals, including Mariano’s fourth with 8:42 left in the game. Coming out of a timeout with 12.4 seconds left, the Irish held the final possession of the game with a chance to send it into overtime, but Gleason was knocked to the ground after contact, which caused a loose ball that Syracuse was able to pick up to end the game.
“They just made more plays at the end of the game,” senior goalie Shane Doss said. “I think they possessed the ball well — I don’t think we had a lot of time on offense — and they did a good job of that.”
Four of the last five matchups for the Irish resulted in a one-score game, and three of the last four games finished with an 11-10 score, with two of them being losses.
With the loss, the Irish drop their first conference game of the season, but they will have a chance to rebound with another ACC matchup Saturday against Duke on the road, beginning at noon.