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ACC Tournament Roundup: Orange Ready For Round II With Irish

Following the 16-15, thrilling Syracuse win, Maryland and Notre Dame faced off in a low scoring battle which came down to the final seconds. Notre Dame will play Syracuse in the ACC Championship on Sunday at 1 pm, and the Orange will have their hands full.

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Even with the defensive issues yesterday, the Syracuse Orange have been playing their best lacrosse of the season over the last few weeks. Kevin Rice has been the offensive leader for this team all year. Yesterday Rice put away 3 goals and had 5 assists. Dylan Donahue had 4 goals, 3 of which were assisted by Rice, including the game winner with one second remaining. It was nice to see Hakeem Lecky get back into a good flow. Lecky put up a goal against Hobart but was held scoreless against UNC, and versus Cornell he had one goal on 7 shots. At one point in the first half the Orange appeared to focus their offense around long-range shots, which was curious. Obviously this team works best from behind the net, specifically with Rice quarterbacking from below the crease. On Friday Rice looked spectacular in his passing game. Another note of concern for the Orange, the man-up offense couldn’t convert. Prior to Friday, Syracuse had converted on 68% of their extra-man opportunities, but against Duke Syracuse went 0-4. If SU had lost this game, we would be focusing on the first period, when Luke Aaron made several point-blank saves and SU went 0-3 in their EMO.

It appeared the early success on face-offs came from Brendan Fowler’s 3 face-off violations in the first. After Chris Daddio went 6-8 in the opening quarter he only took 2-15 in the second and third quarters combined. In the fourth Daddio went 3-9 but don’t undervalue the importance of those three wins. Chris Daddio’s ability to win face-offs at the end of the game was crucial in Syracuse’s victory. Sunday, Liam O’Connor will get a chance to redeem himself against Chris Daddio. O’Connor, generally regarded as one of the best face-off men in the country, went just 7-21 against Daddio in their first matchup this season.

Since the end of the game on Friday, I’ve heard fans and analysts clamoring for Bobby Wardwell to start. If you take Dom Lamolinara out on Sunday, you completely undermine his confidence just two weeks before the start of the NCAA Tournament. I understand we want to win the ACC Tournament but in the scheme of things keeping Dom in the right mindset is more important. My feeling is that you keep things the same in this game, if he struggles, then yes, maybe we go down the road of having Wardwell start against Colgate. The point is, pulling him out of his spot now with the possibility of creating a head case just weeks before the NCAAT outweighs beating Notre Dame in a game that really has little implication for us in the long-run. You might disagree but I don’t think he’s played himself out of the line-up just yet.

Former Big East foes, Syracuse Orange and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, will take each other on in the ACC Championship. On Friday, Notre Dame beat Maryland 6-5 on a very wet field. Just looking at the statistics from this game it is amazing Maryland lost. The Terps outshot the Irish 37-30, dominated on groundballs 30-14, and beat them up on face-offs taking 10 of 13. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team clear the ball this bad in a single game (Syracuse jokes aside). The Irish went 3-13 on clears in the game, with zero successful clears in the first and never getting more than one in any quarter.

There were no multiple scorers in the game. Offensive stud, Matt Kavanagh had just 1 goal on 5 shots, completely shut down by Maryland long-pole Goran Murray, but Kavanagh did have the game-winner with 6.5 seconds remaining. After a Maryland timeout, the Terps took their time, passing the ball around the perimeter, eventually earning a timer-on call with 39 seconds remaining. Finally the ball found Mike Chanenchuk in the middle of the box. Chanenchuk had gone down in the fist half with a rolled ankle, and since then had been looking questionable. Chanenchuk tried to cut back on his defender, slipped on the wet grass, recovered but didn’t protect his stick well enough and was stripped of the ball. Jack Near scooped up the ground ball and raced downfield. On the pass from Near to Kavanagh on the wing, the Maryland defenseman hesitated and didn’t slide early enough, giving Kavanagh an open look to put away the win.

Syracuse fans are likely to hear Kavanagh’s name a lot on Sunday. He is one of the most dangerous players in the nation and loves to shoot from the wing. He has a great ability to get off-ball separation from his defenseman and leads his team in goals with 24 and assists with 23. Another interesting note for the Notre Dame game is the goalie situation. The first time we saw the Irish this year, Shane Doss was in net, having taken over for season starter Conor Kelly. This time around, Kelly has regained his starting spot, and should be making his third straight.

Sunday’s game will take place at 1 pm and can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM.