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Kavanagh, #4 Notre Dame Bully #9 Syracuse 22-8

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Notre Dame Athletics
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Pat Kavanagh might be the youngest player up for the 2021 Tewaaraton Award, but the sophomore is certainly making a case for the prestigious title. Yesterday against Syracuse (6-5, 2-4 ACC), the attackman’s school record 10 points led Notre Dame (7-3, 3-3 ACC) to a dominant 22-8 victory.

It all began early in the first period, on a pick-and-roll play. Kavanagh navigated from X around the crease, then soon found fellow attackman Griffin Westlin, who was freed up by a well-executed Will Yorke screen. That feed put Notre Dame on the board after trailing 2-0, and the Long Island native was far from done.
 
The Orange hung on for a while, maintaining a 4-4 tie ballgame into the early second quarter. But in the final 11:42 of the first half, the Fighting Irish took off on a 9-2 run without looking back. Kavanagh found twine three times during that stretch. He rounded out the afternoon with five goals and five assists.

Just like in these teams’ previous matchup, Syracuse could not keep up with Notre Dame’s breakneck offensive pace. This time around, however, the road warriors lost by twice as many goals as they did at home back in April. And once again, Pat Kavanagh proved to be a matchup nightmare as both a facilitator and scorer.

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Credit Notre Dame Athletics
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Notre Dame attack Pat Kavanagh (white) scores from behind the back while being checked by Syracuse defenseman Grant Murphy (orange).

“[Kavanagh] just sees the field well. He understands the offense,” said Syracuse Head Coach John Desko. “When the ball is in his stick, you can just see [his teammates] working harder off the ball, because they know that if they get open, he’s going to find them.”

Meanwhile, Drake Porter was benched for the first time as a starting goalie. The All-American surrendered 18 goals through two-and-a-half quarters, and recorded just six saves. The fifth-year senior finished with a dreadful 25% save percentage, the lowest of his career.

 

Backup Harrison Thompson would get his first action since Syracuse manhandled Holy Cross 15-6 back in March. The freshman played out the game’s final 20 minutes, collecting three saves in relief of Porter.

 

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Credit Syracuse Athletics
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Syracuse players celebrate an Owen Seebold (14) goal in the first quarter against Notre Dame.

All in all, Syracuse was nonexistent in this ballgame. Worse yet, this showing was not an unfamiliar sight in 2021. This was the Orange’s second loss this season having let up 20+ goals. The last time that happened twice in the same year was all the way back in 1977.

Sitting at 6-5, S.U. is still likely to make the NCAA Tournament. However, their performances against top ACC foes (i.e. Notre Dame, UNC, and Duke) cast heavy doubt on the Orange’s Memorial Day weekend hopes.

 

All that stands between the ‘Cuse and Selection Sunday is unranked Robert Morris, a team not initially on schedule. This extra game means one more chance to recapture some momentum heading into postseason play.

 

“I’m glad we have that game,” said Desko, who has coached the Orange to nine Final Fours. “It’s another week of practice to figure out who they are; and come out and try to play really well so that we’ll be looked at by the selection committee. The guys’ll feel better about themselves going into NCAAs.”

 

The Orange and Colonials will meet for the first time in program history on Friday. Game time from the Dome is set for 4 p.m., tune in for Countdown to Faceoff at 3:30.