April 1, 2016
By: John Heisler
Notre Dame and Syracuse don’t have a long history in men’s lacrosse. In fact, four of the prior 11 meetings took place in the NCAA Championship (2001 and 2008) or the BIG EAST (2013) or Atlantic Coast Conference Championship (2014).
So the two programs had met only three times when the BIG EAST Conference began men’s lacrosse in 2010–and the rivalry shifted to the ACC starting in 2014.
And, given the recent standing of the Irish and Orange (the teams have never played when both teams were not ranked–and in all but two of the previous 11 games both teams stood in the top 10), expect this to grow into one of the more spirited rivalries in college lacrosse.
The margin between these teams has been slim of late–and that’s not likely to change. The matchup to watch this week? It’s likely the Notre Dame defense (ranked number one nationally while allowing 6.57 goals per game) versus a Syracuse attack that averages 13.86 goals per game to rank fourth in the country. Fans will be eager to see if Orange senior attack Dylan Donahue (team-leading 33 points in 2016) can solve Irish senior defenseman Matt Landis and junior goaltender Shane Doss (he’s allowing only 6.29 goals per game to rate second nationally).
Here are five items to consider prior to the Irish-Orange matchup Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse:
1. Here’s who is trending–Spectators watching the Notre Dame-Syracuse game will be viewing five players named Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-Americans. Notre Dame senior captain and defenseman Matt Landis (he was named the top defenseman in the country in 2015) received first-team notice, while Irish junior goaltender Shane Doss was named to the second team. Syracuse senior attack Dylan Donahue also made the second team, as did Orange junior midfielder Sergio Salcido and freshman defender Nick Mellen.
2. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan on the matchup–“It’s always a big game if you’re playing Syracuse. It’s on the road, and they are a top 10 team. Traditionally playing at the Carrier Dome is one of the great environments in all of lacrosse. It’s the 100th anniversary season of lacrosse at Syracuse, and so we expect a big raucous crowd and it should be a great atmosphere for college lacrosse. When you play Syracuse you have to prepare for everything that means–the pace will be fast, they’re going to bring people at you in waves. You have to be prepared to try to impose your will on the game. We don’t have to talk to our team about getting excited to play. You’re going to play in front of 15,000 people in the Dome. If we have to get them motivated for a day like this, then there’s something missing and I don’t think there is.”
3. Big sports weekend in Syracuse–Notre Dame’s appearance at the Carrier Dome Saturday fits in nicely with what qualifies as maybe the ultimate sports weekend for Syracuse fans. Both the Orange men’s and women’s basketball teams are playing in their respective Finals Fours in Houston and Indianapolis. The Orange men meet North Carolina about 90 minutes after the Notre Dame-Syracuse lacrosse game finishes up–while the Syracuse women meet Washington Sunday night.
4. Playing at the Dome–Notre Dame will attempt to end a 13-game win streak for Syracuse in home games at the Carrier Dome. The Orange went 9-0 at home in 2015 (have won 19 of their last 20 home games) and stand 222-32 (.875) all-time in games at the Dome. Notre Dame is 0-3 in games at the Dome, falling 19-13 in 2004, 11-8 in 2011 and 11-10 in 2014. Meanwhile, the Irish have been victorious in their last two outings against Syracuse–winning 13-12 in two overtimes last year in South Bend and 15-14 in the ACC Championship title game in 2014 in Philadelphia. Notre Dame’s other series win came in 2012 in South Bend.
5. The margins are very slim–Syracuse is coming off consecutive one-goal overtime road losses. Notre Dame is coming off three consecutive one-goal games, the last two victories (and the first two of the three in overtime). And it’s probably no accident each of the last three Notre Dame-Syracuse games has been decided by a single goal. Here’s Notre Dame’s recent tally in one-goal contests (Notre Dame has played 30 one-goal games and gone 20-10 in those contests–8-5 in overtime affairs–since the start of the 2011 season):
- 2011: Wins (3)–#14 Denver 10-9, #20 Ohio State 10-9, Georgetown 7-6; Losses (1)–#12 North Carolina 8-9 OT
- 2012: Wins (4)–#18 Drexel 6-5, #10 Hofstra 6-5 OT, #9 Denver 10-9 3OT, Ohio State 8-7; Losses (2)–#20 Penn State 3-4 OT, St. John’s 7-8 (BIG EAST semifinal)
- 2013: Wins (4)–#8 Penn State 10-9 OT, #9 North Carolina 10-9 3OT, #5 Denver 13-12 OT, Rutgers 7-6; Losses (2)–#15 Hofstra 7-8, #7 Duke 11-12 (NCAA quarterfinal)
- 2014: Wins (5)–#2 North Carolina 11-10, #5 Maryland 6-5, #4 Syracuse 15-14, #15 Albany 14-13 OT; #19 Army 18-17, Losses (2)–#12 Penn State 7-8, #10 Syracuse 10-11
- 2015: Wins (2)–#1 Syracuse 13-12 2OT, #2 North Carolina 15-14; Losses (2)–#4 Denver 10-11 OT, #4 Denver 10-11 OT (NCAA semifinal)
- 2016: Wins (2)–Virginia 8-7 OT, Ohio State 9-8; Losses (1)–#1 Denver 8-9 OT
John Heisler, senior associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 1978. A South Bend, Indiana, native, he is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. He is editor of the award-winning “Strong of Heart” series.
The University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team pursues excellence on and off the field through the three pillars in which the program is built: Character, Culture & Community. These three foundational values guide the promise of the program, which is to provide its student-athletes with the most compelling and enriching experience in all of college athletics. Through academics, competition, service and travel, the program aims to immerse its players in situations that enhance their student-athlete experience to help them become the people, students and teammates they aspire to be.
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