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Game Thread: Syracuse Lacrosse Saturday

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It’s the first Saturday of April and we’ve got ourselves back-to-back ‘Cuse lax games. Let’s get it!

2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament - Syracuse v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As the calendar shifts closer to actual spring, lacrosse season is shifting into high gear for the Syracuse Orange.

The women (9-2, 4-0), coming off a nail-biter win versus Loyola on Tuesday, are looking to continue solidifying their resume for postseason play. Meanwhile, the men (4-4, 1-1) are coming off their best win of the season last weekend against Duke and still have work to do just to make sure they have a chance to make the postseason.

Enter April, as the teams look to start the month off right with back-to-back ACC contests on a Saturday afternoon. The women kick off the day with a noon draw on the ACC Network against the first-year program Pittsburgh Panthers. The men will cover the back half of the doubleheader as they travel out to South Bend for a meeting with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 2 PM on ESPN U.

The ladies will take the field for a high noon draw in their first ever game against the Pittsburgh Panthers, who are competing in their inaugural season. Pitt is 6-6 in their first season, but is 0-5 in the ACC. However, they’ve actually been competitive at times despite not winning a conference game yet. They played Duke very tough and nearly came away with a win, losing by only one to the top-10 caliber Blue Devils. They also only lost by one to Virginia Tech, and Boston College by seven (not too shabby considering BC’s quality). The point is, they’re not a complete pushover despite being a first-year program. The Orange will need to come focused and ready to compete.

There’s actually quite the Syracuse flavor with this Pittsburgh team. Defender Allyson Trice and attacker Molly Carter both spent their undergraduate careers at Syracuse before transferring after last season for their graduate years. Attacker Madisyn Kittell didn't go to SU, but she grew up in the area and is a West Genesee graduate.

The Panthers are led by former Virginia Tech All-American Paige Petty, who leads the team with 35 points (29G, 6A). Kittell is their second-leading scorer with 30 (17G, 13A).

After their brief stop at home last weekend, the men are back out on the road this weekend with a trip to Arlotta Stadium to face No. 15 Notre Dame. The Irish have stumbled so far this season to a 2-4 record, although that is very deceiving because three of those losses are to the top three teams in the country (No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Georgetown). Oh, and the fourth loss came against No. 11 Ohio State.

Bottom line: the Orange are facing a team on Saturday that is desperate for a win as they try to work their way back towards .500 and the postseason conversation. ‘Cuse definitely needs a win, as well, as they try to push over .500 for the first time since the beginning of the season, so this should be an interesting matchup.

Notre Dame has a struggling offense and an elite defense. After scoring 24 in their opening win over Detroit Mercy, the Irish have averaged just over 10 goals per game in their five games since. They are, however, led by Pat Kavanagh, who was a nightmare for the Syracuse defense last season. In two games against the Orange, Kavanagh lit the field on fire with 19 combined points for an average of 9.5 points per game. Containing him will be top priority.

Defensively, the Irish are in the conversation for best in the country. They rank No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency, so a Syracuse offense that looks like they’re starting to figure things out is about to face possibly their toughest test of the season. Led by All-American goalie Liam Entenmann and All-American defender Arden Cohen, the ND defense are experts at preventing offenses from getting the sorts of looks that they want. It’s going to be fascinating to see how SU attacks this top-notch unit.