Notre Dame completely stymied the Syracuse offense for most of the second half, but on the shoulders of Dylan Donahue, SU made a nice comeback to gain the lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Although the Orange eventually fell in double overtime, it was a great game for lacrosse fans and certainly a great game for the sport.
The two teams kept neck and neck in the first quarter, finishing with the Irish up 3-2. Nicky Galasso had the first goal for Syracuse, while Dylan Donahue took the second. Following the Donahue goal, SU would not score for 19 minutes during which Notre Dame found the back of the net three times. It was Kevin Rice who broke the scoring drought, dodging from behind the net and rolling up the crease for a goal on Shane Doss, stick side high (5-3 UND). Doss played unbelievably well on Saturday, making 12 saves and giving up 12 goals. He made several point blank saves on the SU offense, and showed how good he was getting down on the ball on low shots. A lot of the saves Doss made were body saves. The best save of the day, and certainly the most important one, came at the end of the first overtime with Donahue on the doorstep, all alone, when Doss matched up Donahue stick for stick to save the game for the Irish.
The first half came to a close with Notre Dame up 5-3. Syracuse FOGO Ben Williams dominated the faceoff X in the first half, going 8-10. SU led in shots, 17-13 and groundballs, 19-9, but Shane Doss had six saves.
Just fifty seconds into the third quarter, Matt Kavanagh elevated above goal line extended to hit Nick Ossello cutting towards the net. Ossello got a step on Peter MaCartney and got it past Bobby Wardwell (6-3 UND). It was Kavanagh again finding fellow attackman Mikey Wynne on the far-side crease, wide open, for an easy goal (7-3 UND). The third goal of the quarter came from, guess who, Matt Kavanagh on the wing (8-3 UND). Off of the ensuing faceoff, Donahue got two attempts, but both were stopped by Doss, before Notre Dame went back on offense and Jack Near beat Brandon Mullins easily, and went high on Wardwell (9-3 UND). Wardwell had 11 saves on 13 goals against. He was not spectacular but held is own well. About two minutes later, Syracuse finally got back to it on offense with Doss making a save on Tim Barber but let the rebound go right to Nicky Galasso for an open net goal (9-4 UND).
Following the Galasso goal, Notre Dame got a good opportunity when Kavanagh got past Mullins but was pushed into the crease by Scott Young. On the dead ball Sergio Perkovic put a hard shoulder into a Syracuse player earning both Young and Perkovic one minute, non-releasable, penalties. During the 5-5 Syracuse was able to get a much-needed goal from Donahue (9-5 UND). Donahue followed that up with another tally (9-6 UND) before Perkovic stopped the bleeding (10-6 UND). The third quarter ended with goals from Hakeem Lecky and Donahue (10-8 UND).
Heading into the fourth quarter Syracuse suddenly found themselves back in the game, only down by two goals. Donahue got the next two for Syracuse, separated by a goal from Notre Dame's Jim Marlott (11-9 UND). A scary moment for SU fans off of the Marlott goal when Ben Williams seemed to slightly injure his wrist. Williams would continue to play, but certainly did not look as good finishing the game winning just 7-13 after this point. Overall, Williams took 18 of 29 in the game and finished with 12 groundballs.
With just under four minutes to play, Tim Barber got his one and only goal of the game as he came from behind the net, faked a pass and with Notre Dame not sliding to him he turned the corner and banged it in low, opposite side (11-11). Off of the following faceoff, Garrett Epple appeared to gain possession and shovel the ball towards the Notre Dame offensive zone. Kavanagh then picked up the ball but the refs blew the whistle claiming that no one had gained possession and gave the ball to Syracuse. Coach Kevin Corrigan for the Irish was livid, but the bad call did not result in an SU goal.
Finally, with 1:06 remaining in the game, the Orange took the lead. The Notre Dame defense slid to double Nicky Galasso at the top of the box, leaving the adjacent Dylan Donahue unguarded. Galasso saw the coming slide and sent it Donahue who hit the deep shot (12-11 SU). That slide was one of the few mistakes made by Notre Dame as it appeared that Jack Near had Galasso under control, not to mention that Near is one of the best defensive midfielders in the country.
With Syracuse up by one with just over a minute left to play and Ben Williams taking the faceoff, it looked good for SU. Unfortunately P.J. Finley won the faceoff forward to himself and took it straight to the net to tie up the game (12-12). Regulation time ended on a huge missed opportunity for Notre Dame. The offense found Mikey Wynne on the crease with no Syracuse defender within 8 yards or so. Fortunately, Wynne couldn't hang on to it as time expired.
The Irish won the opening faceoff in overtime and controlled the ball until calling a timeout with 3:34 to go in OT. Off of the timeout, Wardwell made an excellent save on Perkovic as he streaked towards the net. The Orange were able to take several shots, missing net on each however. Donahue got a chance as time expired but Doss made an incredible one-on-one save.
Donahue had a huge game, especially in the second half, and was basically the reason why Syracuse was even in the game towards the end. The junior attackman finished with seven goals, six of which came in the second half. Only one other SU player had more than one goal, Nicky Galasso who finished with two goals and two assists. Galasso has become such an important part of the offense and found himself in the attack area of the field a lot as Syracuse chose to elevate Rice and Donahue to try and get matchups with short stick midfielders. Give credit to Matt Landis, the Notre Dame defender who took on Kevin Rice holding him to a goal and two assists.
Williams won the faceoff to start the second overtime. Just seconds into the double OT, Galasso fired a shot from deep but missed the net. Dylan Donahue, Kevin Rice, and a Notre Dame long pole backed up the ball, but the referee gave possession to Notre Dame, as he had his back to Rice and did not see that he was closest. It turned out to be a huge call, as Notre Dame scored on that possession. Near, behind the net, beat Lecky as he came up around the crease and sent it far side past Wardwell.
The Orange will return home to take on the Albany Great Danes on Thursday at 7:00 pm. The game can be seen locally on TWCS and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM. Of course you can also follow me @Orangelax for updates throughout the game.