The Syracuse Orange kick off its season on Saturday at 1 pm against Siena in the Carrier Dome. In preparation for the 2016 season I am taking a look at each ACC program. Today we travel to South Bend, Indiana, to see what is new with the Fighting Irish.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
2015 Season: 12-3
All-Time Record vs. SU: 3-8
2015 vs. SU: W 13-12 2OT
First Meeting vs. SU: 5/26/2001 L 5-12
Streak vs. SU: W2
2016 Games to Watch:
- 2/20 vs. Georgetown Hoyas: This will be played in Kennesaw, GA. This is more a game to watch to gauge how good the Hoyas will be this season.
- 3/5 vs. Maryland: This game will be played in Los Angeles, CA, at the Pacific Coast Shootout. The Terrapins could provide an interesting matchup for Notre Dame. Could be a Maryland win.
- 3/13 vs. Denver Pioneers: We could see a National Championship preview between the two best teams in college lacrosse.
- 3/27 @ Ohio State Buckeyes: OSU may take a step back this season, but this will still be a good matchup.
- 4/10 vs. Duke: How about an "upset" here? Duke is strong enough to take a run at the Irish, and it should decide the first and second seeds in the ACC Tournament.
The Irish bring back another stacked team. The defense remains intact and the attack grouping will once again feature several familiar names. I don't know if Notre Dame will win the 2016 National Championship but I am confident the Irish will take the ACC crown this year.
Four-year starter Matt Kavanagh (G27, A25) returns as the leader on offense. Kavanagh plays mostly on the nearside wing side of the field, and is deadly with the question mark dodge. Mikey Wynne (33, 4) had a tremendous freshman year as the fourth rated incoming freshman. The third attackman could be Eddy Lubowicki (3, 6). The senior has never started a game, but has been often used on the extra-man grouping, especially towards the end of the 2015 season.
(Go to :17 in the video)
At midfield, the Irish lose several key players, including Jim Marlatt (11, 9), Jack Near (7, 6), Nick Ossello (23, 6), and Will Corrigan (8, 6). That is a loss of 76 points from 2015. That being said, some of the key returners at midfield include Sergio Perkovic (34, 7), Robert Collins (3, 3), and Trevor Brosco (4, 0). Perkovic is one of the best midfielders in the country, with a wicked outside shot. If you give him space to wind up, watch out. Additionally, teams have to watch for the reverse ball movement back to Perkovic where he can find space to shoot.
While Near was not a big point scorer, he was easily the best in-transition player in the country, and could be the biggest loss for the Irish. Notre Dame will probably be able to lean on its attack for goals, and the close defense is tremendous, so for this team, the lack of depth at midfield is not as critical as it might be for other teams.
P.J. Finley (.522 F/O%, 51 GBs) returns to lead the faceoff crew this year. Last year, Finley took about 59% of the faceoffs for the Irish, coming away with a .522 winning percentage. Sophomore John Travisano, Jr. (.500, 6) took just 32 faceoffs in 2015, but should take on more of the load with the loss of Nick Ossello (.479, 32).
On defense, I think the Irish have the best shutdown defender in the country in Matt Landis (29 GBs, 12 CTs). Landis, who has started 32 games in the last two years, is a great communicator and very good off-ball. He plays the goal line extended better than anyone else in the country. Watch the video below to see him matched up against Kevin Rice last season, and take notice of not only his positioning against Rice but also how patient he is with his stick checks and how effective they can be. Senior Edwin Glazener (18, 13) will help anchor the defense. He started all 15 games last season and complemented Landis well. Garrett Epple (51, 18) will round out the close defense. Epple had 51 groundballs last season, tied for a team high with P.J. Finley. I think the Irish could end up having the best defense in the country.
Notre Dame has two great goalies in Shane Doss (9.06 GAA, .546 SV%) and Conor Kelly (10.92, .469). Both have started at least one final four game, and are viable options. Kelly started 11 games in 2014 but was overtaken by Doss in 2015 who started 14 games. Take a look at the video below to see a replay of Kelly, single handedly, winning the 2014 ACC Championship when he stonewalled Kevin Rice. I expect Doss to start this year, but don't be surprised to see a two-man rotation. Also in the mix is Owen Molloy, a redshirt sophomore who looked good in fallball and was rated as the third best goaltender in the class of 2014.