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Syracuse lacrosse Saturday: previews and game thread

It’s Senior Day in the Dome!

Colgate v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re already celebrating Senior Day for the Syracuse Orange lacrosse teams.

It’s somewhat of an unusual situation because the men’s last four games are all away from the JMA Dome. For the women, while they have two more home games after today, this is their last weekend home game in the Dome, so they’re using this as their Senior Day.

The men will take the field first against the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 2 PM on the ACC Network. The women will get the nightcap against the No. 11 Virginia Cavaliers at 6 PM on ACC Network Extra.

Men vs. Notre Dame — 2 PM, ACC Network

  • All-time series: 19 meetings, Syracuse leads, 10-9 (ND won 5 straight)
  • Last meeting: Notre Dame W, 18-11 on May 1, 2022
  • Notre Dame this season: 6-1, 0-1 ACC

The Irish won their first six games of the season (Marquette, Cleveland State, Georgetown, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan) before dropping their most recent game last weekend in a fiery battle between two of the best teams in the country, 15-10 to Virginia.

Recent Series History

We would all like to forget the recent history between these two teams. The last two seasons they’ve played four total games against each other, all won by Notre Dame. The larger problem, however, is that the Orange haven’t been able to even be competitive with the Irish in those games. ND has outscored SU by a grand total of 80-36 in the four games, more than doubling them up.

This is going to be a very difficult game to win as Notre Dame is one of the best teams in the country this season, but step one is making it a competitive matchup for the first time in a while.

Scouting Notre Dame

Against top competition this season, the script has remained consistent for Syracuse. A failure to win face-offs has resulted in an immense amount of pressure being put on Will Mark and the SU defense.

In the team’s four losses to high-level competition, the Orange went a pathetic 44-of-119 on FOs, a 37 percent success rate. As a result, they gave up an insane 206 shots in just four games, 128 of which were on goal. That is simply too much for any defense and goalie to overcome.

While Notre Dame is elite on both ends of the field, the good news is that their FO unit has struggled this season. The Irish’s two FOGOs have combined to win only 44.1 percent of their restarts (89-of-202), only slightly ahead of ‘Cuse’s 42 percent (116-of-276). This battle will be as critical as ever to see if one unit can get their team a possession edge over the other.

As I mentioned, both the Irish’s offense and defense are among the elite in the country. They rank third in scoring offense (15.86) and sixth in scoring defense (9.14). That is a frightening combination to go against, and it underscores the fact that they are one of the nation’s overall best this season.

The Kavanagh brothers lead the Notre Dame offense. Pat Kavanagh (12G, 26A, 38P) is their leading scorer at over 5 points per game, while younger brother Chris Kavanagh (23G, 8A, 31P) is their leading goal scorer at over 3 goals per game. Eric Dobson (15G, 5A, 20P) is a dangerous scoring threat from the midfield, and Yale transfer Brian Tevlin (5G, 3A, 16GB) is an outstanding two-way midfielder.

This game might also feature a battle between the two best goalies in the country. That’s certainly the case if you ask Inside Lacrosse, who just named Will Mark and Liam Entenmann their first and second team selections on the midseason All-American lists.

Mark is second in the country in save percentage (.606) and total saves (140), and ninth in goals-against average (9.61). Meanwhile, Entenmann is sixth in the country in save percentage (.567) and fourth in goals-against average (8.61).

The young Orange offense has a fight on their hands.

Women vs. Virginia — 6 PM, ACC Network Extra

  • All-time series: 28 meetings, Syracuse leads 15-13 (I’ve seen different numbers in different places on both SU and UVA websites; I think this is what it is based on piecing it together)
  • Last meeting: Virginia W, 18-14 on April 29, 2022 in ACC Tournament quarterfinals
  • Virginia this season: 8-3, 4-1 ACC

After starting the season 6-0, the Cavaliers stumbled by losing three of their next four before beating Notre Dame in their most recent game last weekend. They have wins over ranked teams in Princeton, Clemson, and Notre Dame, losses to top-5 teams in North Carolina and James Madison, and an upset loss to Richmond.

Scouting Virginia

The Cavaliers have a very talented and deep offense, but it all starts for them on draws where they have one of the best takers in the country.

Aubrey Williams averages 8 draw controls per game, which ranks her eighth in the country. Her 88 total draws wins is the fourth-most of any individual this season. As a unit, the Cavs rank ninth in the country with an average of 17 draw wins per game. They’ve been successful on 54.7 percent of their draws this season (187-of-342).

Olivia Adamson, Maddy Baxter and the circle players for SU need to make sure that, at the least, they keep the draw battle competitive so that the dangerous Virginia offense doesn’t load up on possessions. Katie Goodale, Sierra Cockerille, Emma Tyrrell, etc. will need to continue to help out their young draw takers against a more experienced UVA unit.

As for the Virginia offense, they are led by Ashlyn McGovern (41G, 3A, 44P) and Rachel Clark (36G, 8A, 44P), who are their main goal scorers with both averaging over 3 goals per game this season. Morgan Schwab (11G, 27A, 38P) is their primary distributor who mostly operates from X, averaging just under 2.5 assists per game.

Jaime Biskup (27G, 7A, 34P), Kate Miller (10G, 17A, 27P), Mackenzie Hoeg (23G, 2A, 25P), and Kiki Shaw (13G, 3A, 16P) round out the Cavaliers’ extremely well-balanced offense that is 13th in the country averaging 15.36 goals per game.

The Orange appear to have a solid advantage in net. Virginia’s starter, Ashley Vernon, has started 10 games this season and has an 11.96 GAA with a .398 save percentage.