Second half comeback falls short as Syracuse lacrosse drops road game at Notre Dame

Syracuse attackman Stephen Rehfuss
Syracuse attackman Stephen Rehfuss looks upfield. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse was the last Div. I men’s lacrosse team to play a road game this season.  SU had the comfort of not having to travel off campus, since the opening game loss to Colgate on Feb. 8, save for the rescheduled game against Duke at Cicero-North Syracuse high school last week.

The first road test for the No. 8 ranked Orange (5-3, 1-2) on a chilly, overcast Saturday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium in South Bend, Ind. (40 degrees that felt like 32 with the wind) did not go well, because, well simply, for the first half it appeared as though SU completely forgot the day’s itinerary and that the game faced-off at noon.  The resulting first quarter fiasco led to a nine goal deficit at halftime, and eventually proved too much to overcome in a 13-10 loss to the No. 12 Irish (5-3, 1-1), snapping a modest three game SU winning streak.

Notre Dame stormed out to a 6-1 lead against a confused SU defense, winning faceoffs against a trio of Orangemen at the X, causing 11 turnovers, then putting five more goals behind starter Drake Porter (six saves) in net in the second quarter, to take an 11-2 lead at intermission that forced head coach John Desko to make some adjustments.

» Related: Syracuse dominates fourth quarter to surge past Duke

Desko replaced Porter with redshirt sophomore Luke Strang in the cage and he had a strong half, and inserted attackman Nate Solomon as an offensive midfielder out of the box on change of possessions to help free up the passing lines against the Irish defense.  Along with a combination of Jakob Phaup winning faceoffs and Solomon, Bradley Voigt,  Jamie Trimboli and Stephen Rehfuss finishing off plays with goals in the better-paced offensive flow, the ‘Cuse crept back to an 11-6 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

With shades of the epic comeback win against Duke six days ago, midfielder David Lipka’s goal made it 11-9 with 10:06 to play, and the momentum was clearly on the Orange side.

Two minutes later, however, was the game’s turning point.  Midfielder Brett Kennedy was whistled for an unnecessary hit to the head after the Orange had scooped up a ground ball, and assessed a one minute non-releasable penalty (one of three non-releasable penalties among an ugly six penalties for the game).  It took only 22 seconds for Notre Dame to score a man-up goal to go back up 12-9, and have enough cushion to hold on.

Trimboli and Voigt each scored three goals to pace SU, while Notre Dame’s flashy junior midfielder Bryan Costabile had five goals, including two in the fourth quarter to thwart the ‘Cuse comeback.

Syracuse has little time to lick its wounds.  The Orange head to upstate rival Hobart (8-1) Tuesday night in Geneva for the annual battle for the Kraus-Simmons trophy.  Game time is 7:00 p.m.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 579 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.