March 28, 2014
#7 NOTRE DAME (4-2, 2-0)
#10 SYRACUSE (4-3, 0-3)
Saturday, March 29 – Noon (ET)
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, N.Y.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – If the color orange brings out the best in Matt Kavanagh, the Fighting Irish should be in good shape Saturday at Syracuse.
The sophomore attackman matched a program record with seven goals in Tuesday’s 13-7 win at Ohio State, yet he wasn’t whipping a white ball into the back of the net. Orange ones were used after a snow storm blew through Columbus and delayed the start of the game for over a half hour.
“I’ve never played in snow like that,” Kavanagh said. “During warmups we were looking down at the other end of the field and we couldn’t even see the goal. We adjusted to the delay, which wasn’t too bad. The conditions were a little wet and we were throwing the ball around a little bit and so were they so it kind of evened out. We did a really good job of adapting to the playing conditions and we took advantage of it.”
A game after Notre Dame used 11 goal scorers to topple Virginia 18-9, Kavanagh carried the load against Ohio State as he matched the Buckeyes’ scoring output. His seven goals tied the program record held by Randy Colley (1993 vs. New Hampshire) and Ryan Hoff (2007 vs. Drexel). Kavanagh also had an assist in the game and his eight points were one shy of tying the program standard. His season totals now stand at 20 goals and 11 assists, both team-bests.
“Coach Corrigan has been doing a really good job of putting me in advantageous spots and moving me around the field so I’m not as easy to spot in some certain sets that we’re running,” Kavanagh said. “I’ve been bouncing around from the bottom left to behind the net and even up at the midfield level.
“We’re doing a good job at manufacturing goals and we’re scoring in different ways other than six-on-six. We’re scoring off faceoffs, fast breaks, man-up and we even had a couple man-down goals (against Ohio State). The more goals we can score in different situations other than six-on-six puts a lot of pressure on the other team. I think we’re doing a good job with that and we’re hoping to do more of that on Saturday.”
Kavanagh and the Fighting Irish won’t have to worry about the elements Saturday inside the Carrier Dome, but they will have to contend with a Syracuse squad looking to notch its first Atlantic Coast Conference win. The two ACC newcomers enter the contest at opposite ends of the league standings; Notre Dame resides in first place with a 2-0 mark and Syracuse is 0-3.
While the Orange are looking for their first ACC victory, Notre Dame is hoping to capture its first win in the Carrier Dome in what will be the program’s third trip to the venue. Kavanagh, a Long Island native, will be making his first appearance inside the facility.
“I’ve never played in the Dome, but I’ve heard good things about it,” the sophomore attackman said. “I’m really excited. It’s a really big game for us to try and go 3-0 in the ACC. They’re desperate for a win, too. We played them twice in a row last season and didn’t score more than four goals in either game. Saturday is a really big game for us. I’ve been looking forward to it since last year.”
Notre Dame and Syracuse may represent the first and last place teams in the ACC but the those squads are separated by just three spots in the latest USILA poll and that is a clear illustration of just how difficult the league is. The showdown between the seventh-ranked Fighting Irish and the 10th-ranked Orange will be the latest installment in the dog-eat-dog world of the ACC.
“As great as this is, it’s one win in a league where the next time you tee it up it’s going to be against a top-10 team,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said following the victory against Virginia on March 16. “If you win or lose that one, the next time you tee it up it’s going to be against another top-10 team. You better come ready to play and you better button up because everybody plays hard in this league and everybody is talented. It’s great fun and it’s a great thing to be a part of, but it’s a challenge for our team. I don’t want to talk too much about it because we’re still figuring out how to do it and do it well.”
“Every coach has said it, it’s going to be a cauldron,” ESPN’s Eamon McAnaney said after announcing the Notre Dame-Virginia contest. “If you fall behind the eight ball, you’re going to be in trouble. A lot of these teams are used to getting in a groove and getting on a run in April. Now, I feel one of these teams are going to dig a hole that they can’t get out of because there’s no such thing as an easy win right now when you play these schedules.
“I think it’s great for the fans. There’s not much difference between these teams no matter what the scores are. I think someone is going to be left behind and be sort of road kill and not make the NCAA tournament because of the brutal schedule.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
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