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Entenmann, Top-Ranked Irish Hold Off Late Charge By No. 3 Syracuse

Updated: Mar 31

Written by Peter Jay Mulroy ⏐ Writer ⏐ Instagram: @sportstodaywithpeterjay

Photo by Notre Dame Athletics


In a titanic clash between two of the most established lacrosse programs in America, No. 1 Notre Dame opened conference play against No. 3 Syracuse on a crisp Saturday afternoon in South Bend. The Irish, coming off their best performance of the season two weeks ago in a 19-9 thumping of then No. 18 Michigan, were looking to maintain control of the long-standing rivalry with the Orange.

 

While ND's all-time mark against their foes from upstate New York is an even 10-10, the blue and gold entered the ACC showdown at Arlotta Stadium winners in nine of the previous 11 outings in the series, including the last six.

 

It was the Orange, however, who would open the scoring less than two minutes in. A beautiful behind-the-back tally by attackman Finn Thompson put Syracuse -- winners of their last five contests overall -- up 1-0 on the road. But despite the initial surge of energy, Syracuse would watch as the home Irish would answer back quickly. And aggressively.

 

Reilly Gray answered the Thompson goal 50 seconds later to tie the score at one. But it was Gray’s second goal that got the entire stadium roaring. With just over eight minutes remaining in the opening frame, the graduate midfielder bullied his way between two defenders en route to burying a contested shot past SU keeper Will Mark. The score, Gray’s fifth of the season, gave Notre Dame a 2-1 advantage.




 

After Syracuse evened the score at three all with 2:12 to go in the opening 15 minutes, the Irish simply imposed their will the remainder of the period.

 

Star midfielder Eric Dobson -- who picked up a hat trick in last season’s 22-6 win over the Orange -- registered his seventh of the season to put Notre Dame up 4-3 with 1:45 remaining. The goal was another display of crisp ball movement, particularly on the wing for Notre Dame, as Dobson took a clean feed from Chris Kavanagh to put one between the pipes.

 

Consecutive goals by Pat Kavanagh, including one with three seconds remaining in the quarter, capped a dominant final two-plus minutes for the top-ranked Irish, as they closed the first quarter with a 6-3 lead.

 

The Irish would continue their recent offensive surge by collecting four more in the second frame, as goals by Devon McLane, Chris Kavanagh, Will Lynch, and Will Angrick, who remains a key piece to Notre Dame’s stellar midfield unit, put the Irish in the driver’s seat with a 10-5 advantage heading into the locker room.

 

Despite losing both the groundball and shot battle in the first half, Syracuse, in similar fashion to how it began the game, came out strong to begin the third quarter.

 

Just over 90 seconds into the frame, Sam English brought the Orange to within four with a quick tally of his own. But consecutive goals by ND's Jake Taylor, who poured home seven in the win over Michigan last time out, pushed the lead for the Irish back to six at 12-6.

 

Notre Dame, aiming for its seventh straight win in the series, thought their 13-7 lead through three quarters of action would be enough to earn another “W” in this battle of titans. The 15-time national champion Orange, however, had other plans.




 

When Finn Thompson capped off his hat trick with his 14th goal of the season, Syracuse was still in a sizable hole at 13-8. But after Joey Spallina and Luke Rhoa registered tallies of their own just 38 seconds apart, the visitors were quickly back to within three.


It looked like that deficit would shrink even more as Syracuse went on the attack at the 9:30 mark of the fourth.   

 

Jake Stevens, who had a strong game for the Orange, had nothing but daylight in front of him, and a goal by the fifth-year midfielder would have brought Syracuse to within two at 13-11. But Irish net-minder Liam Entenmann -- who along with SU keeper Will Mark is often considered the top goalie in America -- dove across his body and back into the circle to deny Stevens the scoring opportunity. The save, which brought the crowd to its feet, was easily one of the plays of the season on any level of lacrosse.

 

Using that momentum, the Irish were able to dodge missiles from the Orange across the final 90 seconds of play en route to picking up their sixth win in seven tries this season. With the victory, Notre Dame improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in ACC play.

 

On the day, Liam Entenmann stopped 8 of the 20 shots he faced, while Will Lynch, in a game where possession was of utmost importance, won 19 of the 26 face-offs he took.

 

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WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE IRISH?

In a rematch of last season’s national championship, Notre Dame heads to Durham, North Carolina, on Saturday, April 7 for a date with No. 5 Duke. The Irish upended the Blue Devils, 13-9, in the game, en route to winning the programs first title.



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