Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Cardiac Cuse" Falls Short, Irish Claim ACC Title with 15-14 Victory

Story by Isaac Berky
Photo by Chelsea Brobst

Chester, Pa. (Newhouse Sports Media Center) - The Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse team attempted  another come from behind victory in the ACC Championship game Sunday afternoon but fell just short as Notre Dame claimed its first ACC title defeating the Orange 15-14 at PPL Park.

Syracuse and Notre Dame were meeting for the second time in a month and as the game went on Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan felt that familiarity helped his team take the victory.

“Anytime you play seven quarters against a team in three or four weeks you get to know their tendencies and start to be able to predict them a little," he said."But they had the same thing. We came out on top.”

Both Notre Dame and Syracuse’s starting lineups looked slightly different Sunday afternoon as  Orange Coach John Desko elected to go with Bobby Wardwell in net over Dominic Lamolinara, and Notre Dame left star attack Matt Kavanagh on the sideline because of an undisclosed team rule violation. Both would make an impact in the game later on. 

Kavanagh made his presence felt in the middle of the game. The Tournament MVP ended the game with four goals and two assists, all of which came in the second and third quarters.

In contrast to when Notre Dame traveled to the Carrier Dome on March 29 this time it was the Irish, not the Orange who jumped out to an early 3-1 lead.

With just about six minutes remaining in the first quarter Hakeem Lecky beat his defender before sending one into the top left corner cutting the lead to 3-2.  The Orange scored twice more in the first quarter and twice more early in the second to take a 6-3 lead.

But seven seconds after Kevin Rice put the Orange up 6-3 Connor Doyle cut the lead back to two and
Notre Dame outscored the Orange 4-1 in the last 11:34. The teams went into the locker room tied at seven but the Irish had seemed to have the momentum.

Kavanagh's Quarter

As the second half got underway the Orange wasted no time taking advantage of its first man-up opportunity of the day as Dylan Donahue gave Syracuse what would be its last lead of the day, 8-7. The Irish controlled the rest of the third quarter going on a 7-0 run, during Kavanagh had two goals and an assist.

In their last meeting the Orange had been able to keep Kavanagh pointless but this time the sophomore started exploiting gaps he saw in the Syracuse defense Sunday.

“I just started to see..[new lanes] that they were giving me today and I really took advantage of that,”  Kavanagh said.

Randy Staats broke the Orange’s nearly 14 minute scoreless streak as time wound down in the third quarter cutting the lead to 13-9 but Kavanagh scored exactly 30 seconds later to put Notre Dame back up 14-9.

In similar fashion to Friday night's last second win over Duke, the Orange was not going to lose easily.

“My hat’s off to Syracuse today,” Corrigan said. “You just couldn’t kill them. It seemed like every time we shot them they got right back up and came back at us.”

Frantic finish

The fourth quarter saw a change in net for the Orange as Dominic Lamolinara came in replacing Bobby Wardwell, who had made his first start. As the game wound down the senior’s play off the bench was one thing that allowed the Orange to keep the game close.

“I’m thankful Dom was there today,” Wardwell said after the game. “I wasn’t able to establish a rhythm and get comfortable today like I was Friday. He made some big saves for us.”

The fourth quarter ended up being a goaltenders' duel, even though Notre Dame’s Connor Kelly was not officially credited with a save in the frame.

“He was huge for us," Corrigan said. "I’m pretty sure he had several saves in the fourth.”

Goals from Billy Ward, Derek Maltz, Randy Staats, and Scott Loy cut the Irish lead to one with just over two minutes remaining. After a big save by Lamolinara Syracuse regained possession of the ball and took a timeout trying to regroup and get set for the final attack.

“We had several things drawn up,” Desko said. “But in the end we just weren’t able to convert.”

As time wound down the ball landed in the pocket of Kevin Rice's stick with an opportunity to tie the game.

“I just didn’t get the shot off I wanted,” Rice said. “He [Kelly] made a good save and we weren’t able to finish it.”

Rice finished the game with six assists and set an ACC Tournament record in the process with ten assists over the two games. 

Irish get NCAA bid

The victory gave the Irish an automatic bid into next month’s NCAA Tournament. The Orange appears set for the NCAA Tournament with the only question whom they will play. Desko said the NCAA Tournament could have a very strong ACC flavor to it in the later rounds.

"This was like a final four weekend... I think we could very well see four ACC teams in the Final Four."

Syracuse heads home for one final game against Colgate. Desko welcomes the opportunity to have a week to recover and play an additional game between the conference tournament, and the NCAA Tournament.

“I think it’s great and I hope it stays that way,” he said. “It’ll be nice for our kids to get a lighter week, not a week off, but a lighter week, before the tournament.”

The Orange will host Colgate at 4 p.m. on May 3 as the Raiders come into the Carrier Dome.


Syracuse recorded a season high 44 ground balls… Brandon Mullins, Kevin Rice, Randy Staats, and Dylan Donahue were all named to the All-Tournament Team…  2014 marks the first time that all three ACC tournament games have been decided by one goal… The ACC Tournament will return to PPL Park in 2015


Syracuse vs. Notre Dame- 2014 ACC Championship

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame held off a desperate Syracuse comeback Sunday afternoon to win the ACC Men's Lacrosse Tournament 15-14. Here is the game in photos by Chelsea Brobst. Click on any picture to start slide show.

UVA/UNC ACC Showcase in Pictures

Virginia and North Carolina wound up at the bottom of he ACC Men's lacrosse standings this spring while making the Top Ten in the national rankings. Their game Saturday night was called a Showcase but it was played very much for real. Chelsea Brobst has the story in pictures. Click on any one to start slide show.