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No. 16 Notre Dame’s Offensive Duo and Lockdown Defense Pose a Threat to No. 18 Syracuse

Syracuse has not beaten Notre Dame in the teams' past three meetings.
Syracuse has not beaten Notre Dame in the teams' past three meetings.

After commanding wins against Stony Brook and No. 10 Duke, #18 Syracuse men's lacrosse is riding a high in the wake of a rocky start to the 2022 campaign. In that span, the offense was efficient and dynamic, highlighted by a Tucker Dordevic between-the-legs goal against the Blue Devils. In the past three games, the SU defense dialed in to hold opponents to no more than ten goals. Now, Syracuse (4-4, 1-1 ACC) continues its ACC schedule against #16 Notre Dame (2-4, 0-1).

In many ways, the Fighting Irish’s season has mirrored that of the Orange. The Golden Domers won their season opener against Detroit Mercy 24-2 before losing three straight to Georgetown, Maryland and Ohio State. Notre Dame got one back against Michigan before dropping their conference opener to Virginia last weekend. The Irish hold a 2-4 record at the midpoint of the season.

While Notre Dame’s season has been far from perfect, the Irish do have two marquee players. Brothers Pat and Chris Kavanagh are the keystones to the Irish’s offense. The Long Island natives lead the Irish with 11 goals each.

In his three years in South Bend, junior Pat Kavanagh has shared a lead, or outright lead the Irish in scoring. Last season the Tewaaraton award finalist finished with 26 goals, 38 assists, led the ACC in assists per game, and was second in points per game. This season, Pat is top-five in points per game. The attackman greatly influences how a game goes for the Irish; Pat has led ND in points in all but one game , including both wins.

While freshman Chris Kavanagh hasn’t spent nearly as much time gazing at Touchdown Jesus as his older brother, he has made just as big an impact on the lacrosse field. Chris’s 11 goals and three assists places him third on Notre Dame’s points tally, ten behind Pat in the lead. Chris’ style of play is highlighted by quick shots off of passes from behind the goal line. The top of the crease is his stomping ground.

That Irish offense becomes even more potent with a man advantage. While man-up, the Gold Domers find twine over half of the time. The 11 goals on 17 attempts is good for the third-best man-up offense in the nation.

Combine the Kavanagh brothers and man-up offense with a top-20 scoring defense, and Notre Dame becomes a much more dangerous team. The Irish hold their opponents to just over ten goals a game. Junior netminder Liam Entenmann has baffled opponents all season. A Long Island native and high school classmate of Pat Kavanaugh, Entenmann holds a .530 save percentage, and made an unbelievable 19 saves in Notre Dame’s 12-7 win over Michigan. In conference, he’s top three in save percentage, saves per game, and goals against average.

Those numbers should unsettle a Syracuse team that’s aiming for revenge. The last time the Orange and Irish played in May of last year, Notre Dame took home a commanding 22-8 victory. SU only recorded two goals in the second half. ND has taken the past three contests against SU, dating back to 2019.

Syracuse’s next chance to snap Notre Dame’s streak is this weekend. The 18th meeting between the two schools gets underway at 2:00 from South Bend. WAER’s coverage of the contest starts at 1:30 with GZA Countdown to Faceoff.