‘Cuse Countdown Analysts Preview Syracuse Lacrosse’s Matchup with Notre Dame
Syracuse lacrosse has been inconsistent this entire season outside of ACC play, where they remain undefeated. Notre Dame is the next conference challenge for the Orange. What does SU have to do to dispatch of the Fighting Irish, and can they continue their winning ways in the ACC? Our analysts tell you their keys to the game and predictions.
Key to the Game: Avoid a Fourth Quarter Collapse
The Orange has been prone to some defensive lapses in the fourth quarter this season, giving up a total of 13 goals in the final quarter of play during its three losses. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame has scored 27 goals in the fourth quarter this year, which is its highest scoring quarter. Even though Syracuse was able to able to hold Duke to just two goals in the fourth quarter last Saturday, it will have to make sure to keep up that defensive tightness in order to prevent a late push by the Irish.
Prediction: Syracuse 13-12
Both of these squads are no strangers to close games. Three of Syracuse’s four wins on the year have come by just one goal, and Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory is just three goals. Syracuse fans were finally able to see a big performance from Brendan Bomberry who scored four goals in the win over Duke, ending somewhat of a dry spell for the star midfielder. As both the Orange and Irish like to keep it close, Syracuse will take this one by just a single goal, which could possibly come in overtime.
Key to the Game: Speed Up the Tempo
Syracuse is undefeated on the season when scoring more than 11 goals per game, and 0-3 when the squad falls short of that mark. What happened in those losses was SU let the opponent control pace and possession. Notre Dame’s Travisano Jr. is not an elite face-off man so possession should be fairly even. If that is the case it is imperative for the Orange to get some old school up and down lacrosse going in the Dome. Some of this season’s best lacrosse for SU has come in transition.
Prediction: Syracuse 11-10
This Syracuse team went down to Durham and channeled some of the grit of the basketball team last weekend. It is dangerous to say that one game can establish a team. That being said, I think this team matured last weekend and learned from past errors in letting the game get away from them. In this game I do not expect anything but a close game as Notre Dame’s widest margin of victory was just four goals against Detroit Mercy. Down the stretch expect the emergence of go to creator, Nate Solomon, and finish, Brendan Bomberry, to shine down the stretch again.
Key to the Game: Tighten the Screws on Defense
Syracuse is only one game above .500 this season, and the defensive unit has been holding them back. Dom Madonna and company are giving up more than 12 goals per game this year. That puts a lot of pressure the Orange offense. This Notre Dame squad isn’t the most high powered offense, averaging 10.29 goals per game. This defensive unit needs to be crisp on its slides, and communicate effectively in order to keep ND scorers at bay.
Prediction: Notre Dame 13-11
Syracuse comes into this matchup with an unblemished ACC record, but that will fall on Saturday. The Irish has an absolute stud at the faceoff X in John Travisano, Jr. The senior went a whopping 17-for-19 at the X in ND’s last matchup against Ohio State. I just don’t think Syracuse faceoff guys can compete with the Irish in this aspect, and gaining possession will be a tall task for the Orange. ‘Cuse’s thrilling winner at Duke might have been a stroke of luck, but I think that luck runs out against the Irish.
Key to the Game: Win the Turnover Battle
Syracuse’s fate has been decided by turnovers all season. SU is undefeated when it wins the turnover battle and 0-3 when it does not. Last week against Duke, the Orange only turned the ball over eight times compared to a whopping 22 giveaways in its loss the game before at Rutgers. Not to mention, Notre Dame comes in averaging almost 15 turnovers a game, which is the second worst mark among ranked teams this season. If Syracuse wants to take care of business again Saturday, it needs to take advantage of ND’s major flaw to help them control the tempo and momentum.
Prediction: Syracuse 10-8
I really think SU found something in its huge road victory over Duke last week. The offense looked as crisp as its been all season and young midfielders Brendan Curry and Tucker Dordevic are really starting to come into their own. Now, the Orange returns home where it’s due for a strong performance. It’s certainly been an up and down season, but expect Syracuse to pick up another pivotal ACC win Saturday and rattle off a winning streak to close out the season.
Key to the Game: Defenders Not Named Nick Mellen
Defensemen Nick Mellen is a midseason All-American and for good reason. The sophomore has shut down some of the best offensive weapons in the country, holding Albany’s Connor Fields and Duke’s Justin Guterding each below two goals. Whoever Mellen is tasked with defending against Notre Dame will likely be shut down in a similar manner. The problem for Syracuse is how balanced the Fighting Irish’s attack is. Four Notre Dame players have scored at least 12 goals this season. If the Orange defense outside of Mellen does not pull its weight, Syracuse will struggle to win.
Prediction: Syracuse 11-10
No SU performance this season was more befuddling than the last time the Orange played in the Dome. A Syracuse squad that was supposed to cruise after two top-10 wins, fell flat. Coach Desko has chalked much of the issue up to young players not being used to the bright lights and loud noises of the Orange’s home turf. To compensate, Syracuse has added practices in the Dome this week. It may seem small, but for an inexperienced squad that has shown itself get easily rattled, it may be the difference in a close Orange win on Saturday.
Key to the Game: The Steadiness of Dom Madonna
Notre Dame limits its opponents to just nine goals per game, and prefers to participate in low-scoring affairs. SU may be unable to utilize a run-and-gun, up-tempo approach against Kevin Corrigan’s stifling backline. In order for the ‘Cuse to stay in the game, the team needs its goaltender to fortify the crease. Dom Madonna’s play has been shaky at best; the Liverpool native stopped an onslaught of Army West Point shots in three overtime periods, which allowed the Orange to advance past the Black Knights in February. But, the senior netminder has struggled recently, relinquishing 15 goals per contest in SU’s previous three outings. If Madonna makes some timely saves and anchors this Syracuse defense, expect the Orange to keep this game tight.
Prediction: Notre Dame 11-9
Nick Mariano’s heroic performance against the then No. 1 Irish, including his four goals, proved to be the difference maker in the Orange’s upset victory last season. The problem: Mariano now dons the yellow jersey of the MLL’s Florida Launch. This year’s offense is led by Brendan Bomberry and Jamie Trimboli, but other than those two, no SU attacking player has separated himself from the pack. Tack on Notre Dame’s John Travisano, Jr. winning 58.6 percent of his faceoffs, and John Desko’s squad simply won’t possess the ball enough to cement double-digits on the scoreboard.
Key to the Game: Stop Notre Dame’s Ryder Garnsey
Kevin Corrigan, Notre Dame’s head coach, is considered one of the best coaches in the country. He’s been coaching the Fighting Irish for 30 years, so his experience speaks for itself. This year, Corrigan’s designed his offense with a unique twist. Notre Dame does not start Ryder Garnsey, one of the the team’s best offensive weapons. Last season, Garnsey finished with 43 points as a sophomore. This year, he attacks second lines and lesser defenders coming off the bench, and it’s worked well for him individually. Garnsey’s 19 points is tied for Notre Dame’s lead. Syracuse will need to find a way to contain Garnsey from wrecking its second line of defense.
Prediction: Syracuse 14-10
Syracuse’s offense is the wild card in this game. Keep an eye on SU attackman Brendan Bomberry. When he plays well, ‘Cuse’s offense is a completely different animal. Against Duke, the senior piled up four goals, and the Orange pulled off the upset. In Syracuse’s two worst offensive performances (Albany, Johns Hopkins), Bomberry was held scoreless. It’ll be up to Bomberry to spark a run for the Orange.