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Syracuse lacrosse Saturday: Preview and game thread

Two top-12 opponents and a No. 22 going to the rafters. We’ve got a big lacrosse weekend in the Dome.

It’s a very special weekend for Syracuse Orange lacrosse.

Both the women’s and men’s teams are once again home for a Dome doubleheader that’s wrapped around the jersey retirement of one of the all-time greatest lacrosse players and Syracuse University athletes. Here’s a rundown of the day:

  • 12 PM — Women’s lacrosse vs. No. 12 Notre Dame, ACC Network
  • 4 PM — Men’s lacrosse vs. No. 10/11 Johns Hopkins, ACC Network Extra
  • Halftime of men’s game — Mike Powell’s No. 22 jersey retirement

So, yes, I think you can say we’re set for an eventful Saturday of lacrosse inside the JMA Dome. Let’s take a look at some of the big keys for both games:

No. 12 Notre Dame — 12 PM on ACC Network

The Fighting Irish are 4-1 this season (2-0 ACC) and are coming off a huge, 14-6 win over Duke last weekend. Their other wins are over San Diego State, Central Michigan, and Clemson, while their lone setback was an 18-14 loss to Northwestern.

Three-Headed Monster

There is a very clear trio that leads the Notre Dame offense, and it’s a very experienced group of all seniors. Attack Jackie Wolak (16G, 10A, 26P), midfielder Kasey Choma (17G, 4A, 21P) and attack Madison Ahern (14G, 6A, 20P) are by far the top scorers for this team. Wolak averages just over 5 points per game, while Choma and Ahern average just over 4.

Those three have combined for 47 of the 82 ND goals (57 percent) and have taken 88 of 181 team shots (49 percent). As a trio, they’re shooting 53 percent on the season.

Nobody else on the team has more than 7 total points so far. Not to say that those other players can’t get the job done, but we know where the Syracuse zone will be focusing its attention in this one.

Free-Position danger

An aspect of the game that could provide some issue for the Orange is on free positions. Now, the defense has been much better recently at giving them up, and Delaney Sweitzer has been fantastic all season at stopping them.

After giving up 25 free positions in the first two games, the defense only gave up only 16 in the last four games. On the season, Sweitzer has only allowed a goal on 12-of-41 attempts, an incredibly low .293 conversion percentage.

But Notre Dame has the athletes to create more free positions for themselves than the past four ‘Cuse opponents, so the defense needs to be careful to not give too many up. That’s especially true because the Irish are good at converting them.

On the season, they are 16-of-28 on free positions for a .571 success rate. The three most dangerous players are...see above. Ahern is 6-of-7, Choma is 5-of-7, and Wolak is 3-of-6.

The defense needs to be on their toes in that zone.

Other Notable Numbers

  • The Irish hold a 90-49 advantage on draw controls this season. Last weekend, they split with Duke, 12-12, and held expert draw taker Maddie Jenner to just four wins to herself.
  • They hold a 78-58 advantage over their opponents in ground balls.
  • Their defense is surrendering only 8 goals per game on the season.
  • They’re also causing 11.2 turnovers per game, on average. Last weekend against Duke, they forced 12 Blue Devil turnovers.
  • Defender Emma Schettig leads their defense with an impressive stat line of 20 draw controls, 12 ground balls, and 7 caused turnovers.
  • Goalie Lilly Callahan has a 7.79 GAA and a .519 save percentage.

No. 10/11 Johns Hopkins — 4 PM on ACC Network Extra

Hopkins has kind of been all over the map this season, coming into this weekend with a 4-3 record overall. They started the season hot with strong wins over Jacksonville and Georgetown, who was ranked No. 3 at the time, but have only gone 2-3 since with close wins over Utah and St. Joseph’s and losses to North Carolina, Loyola and Virginia.


Hmm, where should we start?

Okay, fine. But at least the outlook is a little rosier this time. For the first time in four games, SU isn’t coming up against a super-strong FO unit in the Blue Jays. They’re actually under .500 on the season, coming in with a .484 win percentage as a team.

They primarily split the duties between two players: Tyler Dunn (.476 on 103 attempts) and Logan Callahan (.512 on 82 attempts). Of course, those numbers are still superior to Johnny Richiusa’s .412 win percentage (63-of-153). Hopefully, Richiusa will benefit from not having to go against Luke Wierman or Jake Naso in this one.

Because Will Mark needs some help...

A startling number of shots

In the aforementioned previous three games, Will Mark has faced a total of 166 shots, 105 of which were on cage.

He somehow managed to save 57 of those shots (.543 SV%), but the last three games have been out of control for the Orange goalie. He’s basically a crash-test dummy at this point.

This team has got to find a way to take even a little pressure off Mark and the defense, because facing an average of 55 shots per game like the last three games is a nightmare for any defense.

Other Notable Numbers

  • They’re not the most high-scoring offense you’ve ever seen, only averaging 11.4 goals per game.
  • They’re actually getting outscored on the season (80 to 83).
  • They’ve taken 51 fewer shots than their opponents.
  • They’re minus-5 on ground balls.
  • They’re averaging over 16 turnovers per game.
  • They average over three failed clears every game.

Those are all numbers that look pretty good from an Orange perspective, but this Hopkins team has faced a very difficult schedule and has a lot of fight in them.

We should be in for a pair of great games on this lacrosse Saturday!