What a difference a week makes.
After the Syracuse lacrosse team’s embarrassing blowout 21-7 loss to Duke on Sunday, in which the Orange was beaten in every aspect of the game—faceoffs, offense and defense—the players called a team meeting.
“We sort of questioned each other and put it all out there,” junior attackman Kevin Rice said. “The response you saw today shows the character of our guys and what we’re going to be like moving forward.”
Tied at 10, Rice scored the winning goal with 2:05 remaining to lead the No. 10 Orange to an 11-10 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. It was SU’s first ACC win of the season.
Rice had a game-high six points (4G, 2A) while fellow attackmen Derek Maltz and Dylan Donahue chipped in with three goals apiece.
“It’s a great win for us,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “For Notre Dame to come in here having the success they’ve had, especially their stingy defense, and we were able to put up double figures. That was big. It was a great total team effort coming off last week’s loss. It meant that much more for us to come out and play well.”
The Orange never trailed in the game. Brandon Mullins pressured Matt Kavanagh, the ACC leader in goals and points per game, all afternoon. Kavanagh was held scoreless for just the second time this year. The offense did their part. Randy Staats contributed to the offensive attack by recording a career-high three assists.
And, senior faceoff man Chris Daddio, who has struggled at the circle, won 15-of-24 (.625) draws, outdueling Notre Dame’s Liam O’Connor. O’Connor entered the game second nationally in faceoff winning percentage. He finished the game 33.3 percent at the X (7-21), more than 35 percent below his season average of 68.5.
“Everyone pins (our losses) on the faceoffs,” Rice said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Chris. We played awful last week in every phase of the game … but he gets the blame for it. I’m glad he came out and played awesome today. He should get all the credit.”
“Defense, it was the best we’ve played all year, team-wise,” Desko added. “Daddio and the wings were obviously a huge difference for us.”
Senior Dominic Lamolinara started in the cage. He played the first two quarters, stopping seven shots to help Syracuse gain the lead. Bobby Wardwell played the second half in goal for the Orange and made three key saves in the last five minutes, including one on a shot by Notre Dame’s Trevor Brosco out of a timeout with 2:22 remaining.
The crucial stop on Brosco led to Rice’s winning goal.
“I don’t think I’ve ever lost a game in any sport as bad as we did,” Rice said. “We were blown off the field in the first quarter. It was embarrassing. It was embarrassing for the program and for the alumni. That’s why this week was huge for us, to test our mettle as a team.”