April 30, 2011
JoJo Marasco rocked Syracuse's No. 22 jersey like he owned it. Marasco and Stephen Keogh notch two goals and two assists each as No. 2 Syracuse opened its 2011 season with a 13-7 victory over No. 13 Denver at the Carrier Dome. © Greg Wall
JoJo Marasco rocked Syracuse's No. 22 jersey like he owned it. Marasco and Stephen Keogh notch two goals and two assists each as No. 2 Syracuse opened its 2011 season with a 13-7 victory over No. 13 Denver at the Carrier Dome. © Greg Wall

Syracuse Solves Notre Dame Defense, Topples Top-Ranked Irish

by Chris Iseman | LaxMagazine.com

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Not even the nation’s best defense could stop Syracuse’s rampant scoring. Right now, there doesn’t appear to be much that can.

“We shot well today,” Syracuse attackman Stephen Keogh said. “The goalie played a pretty good game. Luckily, we scored some good goals and it’s just unselfish plays and hopefully it continues.”

Keogh scored four goals against Notre Dame goaltender John Kemp, and the No. 4 Orange (13-1, 5-0 Big East) handed the Fighting Irish its first loss of the season in an 11-8 win in front of 14,751 at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse never had much of a problem finding a way to crack the Irish’s defense, catching Notre Dame (10-1, 5-1) off guard with goals from just outside the crease. The Irish’s defense, which had managed to stop 10 teams coming into the day, never found a way to stifle SU’s scorers.

Syracuse dropped to the fourth spot in the polls when it fell to Cornell back on April 12. Notre Dame was the team that replaced it atop the rankings. Yet on this day, Syracuse was the team that played like the nation’s best. Syracuse had been on a rampant scoring run in its previous three games, having scored an average of 13 goals in each. Against expectations of a low-scoring affair, the Orange continued that run and broke out for another double-digit goal game.

Syracuse was the first team all year to score more than nine goals against Notre Dame.

“I thought that our guys understood how Notre Dame likes to play defense, likes to slide,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “They changed some things up on us during the course of the game. …I thought we had some good movement in the offense, especially in the first half.”

Notre Dame came into the day allowing an average of only 5.9 goals per game. Against no slouch of a defense in the Orange, it seemed all but certain goals were going to be few and far between.

That was far from the case.

Notre Dame scored the first two goals of the game, feeding off the energy of the crowd. And despite the crowd being the largest on-campus crowd in college lacrosse this season, the Irish insisted the noise was not a factor. Once the Irish scored those two goals, the crowd quieted down and that’s when the Orange started to erupt against the nation’s top defense.

“You don’t know what a game’s going to play like,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “You play the game that’s there in front of you. It turned out to be a game where both teams were attacking the cage and getting opportunities. I just think they did a better job of finishing theirs.”

The Orange came into the game with a plan of remaining patient and working for good opportunities, while keeping poor shots at a minimum. From the start, SU never rushed the ball to the net, but instead passed around the outside of the offensive zone before getting the ball to the inside and taking shots from just outside the crease.

Syracuse went on a four-goal run with six minutes remaining in the first quarter to go up 4-2 and never relinquished the lead. Both teams took 33 shots, but the Irish struggled to find the back of the net against SU goaltender John Galloway. The Division I-lacrosse leader in career wins made 12 saves, keeping his team’s lead intact. At one point in the second quarter, the Irish took two shots from the lip of the crease within about ten seconds after the first bounced off Galloway’s stick. Neither one got past him.

“The game could’ve gone a lot of different ways in my mind,” Corrigan said. “There was one flurry, we had three layups and didn’t score. And then it’s 6-3 them. Guess what? It could be 6-6. Or it could be 6-5 us if a couple of those break differently.”

Unfortunately for Corrigan and Notre Dame, the Irish never managed to tie the game. Notre Dame did, though, score three straight goals at the end of the fourth quarter to pull to within three goals of a tie. But by then, it was too little, too late.

With the win, Syracuse clinched at least a share of the Big East championship, and could win it outright with a win over St. John’s next week. For now, though, it can relish in the fact that it beat the No. 1 team in the country, led by the No. 1 defense.

And there’s a good chance Syracuse might have to do it again sometime this season.

“It’s a very good team,” Galloway said. “There’s a good chance we’ll see them down the road and we’re excited for that opportunity.”

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