May 1, 2013, 10:59 AM EST
After losing to Syracuse in Saturday’s road matchup against the nation’s seventh best team, Notre Dame gets another shot at the Orange in a neutral setting. Notre Dame was unable to get into any sort of offensive rhythm in its 10-4 loss, especially during the second half of the game. The Orange scored nine goals in the second half, only allowing one to counter Notre Dame’s 3-1 first half lead.
The Orange ended up outshooting the Irish 32-24 and collected ten more ground balls. At times, Notre Dame’s defensive unit looked outmatched, which could be a byproduct of the team’s lack of sustained possessions on the offensive end. Notre Dame entered the match having been named the No. 1 team in the country earlier in the week.
Despite an overall lack of scoring by the Irish, Notre Dame relied on freshman attack Matt Kavanagh to score two goals, while Westy Hopkins and Ryan Foley each netted one of their own. The Irish will rely on the attack position heavily in the rematch contest Thursday in Philadelphia at Villanova Stadium in the BIG EAST Championship Semifinals.
Kavanagh will be looking to duplicate his performance from this past Saturday, and the Irish will certainly need John Scioscia, fifth year senior Sean Rogers, and midfielder Jim Marlatt to provide an increase in shots on goal. Scioscia had four shots in the match Saturday, but none of them came close to getting past Syracuse goalie Dominic Lamolinara.
Goalie John Kemp was put under a great deal of pressure Saturday, allowing ten goals but also saving nine shots as well. Notre Dame needs to keep the Syracuse defense off-balance with an up tempo strategy from the opening faceoff in order to create a multitude of favorable situations on the offensive end, which in turn should lead to keeping the ball on the opponent’s side of the field.
Syracuse now leads the BIG EAST Conference with a 5-1 record in conference play and an 11-3 overall record. Ranked fifth after this weekend’s matchup, Notre Dame is the No. 3 seed and hopes to pull off an upset in order to improve its 10-3 overall record and 4-2 mark in conference play.
If Notre Dame can come out victorious in its second straight matchup with the Orange, the Irish will earn an opportunity to face the winner of the match between No. 2 seed Villanova, the home team, and No. 4 seed Georgetown in the finals. The Irish and Head Coach Kevin Corrigan won their first BIG EAST regular season title last year, and now look to add to that distinction with a BIG EAST postseason championship.
Notre Dame is already locked in for its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance, but an undefeated conference tournament could provide quite a confidence boost, which could result in a hot streak heading into the final month of the season.
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