If the Orange want to reclaim the top spot in college lacrosse, it will have to do what no team has done so far this season — beat Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish come into Saturday’s game at the Carrier Dome with a perfect 10-0 record and 5-0 in the Big East. They are tied for the conference lead with Syracuse, who is 12-1 and 4-0 in the Big East. Here are three things to watch for on Saturday in the most highly anticipated game of the season.
HOW WILL SU SCORE ON THE IRISH?: The Orange has scored 13 goals in each of the past two games, but with all due respect to Rutgers and Hobart, neither of those teams is Notre Dame. The Irish boast the best defense in college lacrosse, allowing just 5.9 goals per game. Goalie John Kemp’s goals against average (5.96) ranks second in the nation while Sam Barnes and Kevin Ridgway have been shut down defenders. The outcome of the game will fall on which offense shows up to play (a question that isn’t helped by Tim Desko, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game with an injured knee). Will it be Syracuse team that mustered just six goals in an April 12 loss to Cornell? Or will it be the team that pummeled Rutgers on Saturday, 12-2, despite the Scarlet Knights throwing a zone defense and stalling on offense?
IRISH OFFENSIVE: On the flip side, Notre Dame just scored a season-high 14 goals in a 14-3 win over Providence. Sean Rogers had a goal, and now leads the team with 15 goals and seven assists, while Zach Brenneman, the Big East Preseason Attackman of the Year, had a pair of goals. It should be an interesting matchup now that defenseman John Lade is back to 100 percent after suffering a high ankle sprain earlier in the season. While Notre Dame is tops in the NCAA in defense, Syracuse isn’t too far behind, giving up 7.23 goals a game.
RECORD ON THE LINE: If the Orange end up winning, it will be a momentous occasion. The win would be No. 58, which would break the school record for a four-year winning period at Syracuse. The class of 1986 won 57 games. There’s also SU’s record of being 4-0 all time against Notre Dame. The two schools met last year as SU cruised to a 12-6 win at Arlotta Stadium. Stephen Keogh led the Orange with four goals.