A furious back-and-forth battle between ACC newcomers Syracuse and Notre Dame ended with the Fighting Irish taking home the trophy in a physical 15-14 contest that saw the Orange cut a five-point fourth-quarter deficit to one point.
In what seemed remarkably similar to both semifinal games on April 25, the game came down to the wire in a tight contest.
“Who said we aren’t in the entertainment business?” Coach John Desko said following the game. “My hat’s off to Notre Dame. I thought they played hard the whole game. They came out—we won some faceoffs—but they kept playing.”
Sloppy passing in the midfield lead to 12 Syracuse turnovers. Notre Dame also exposed some defensive weaknesses the Orange possess, though Coach Desko said that the team made more defensive mistakes against Duke in the semifinal game.
“Frankly, I didn’t expect them to score that many goals,” Desko said. “They played like they really wanted it.”
“We can’t keep giving up fifteen goals a game,” Brandon Mullins added.
In particular the Irish took advantage of an unusually weak showing from goalie Bobby Wardwell, who started in place of senior Dominic Lamolinara. Lamolinara did not play until the fourth quarter, and made it count with two huge saves, one which led to a score and another which led to an Orange possession with under a minute in regulation.
Both teams climbed out to leads over each other, with Notre Dame holding onto a five-goal lead headed into the fourth quarter. Syracuse rallied, with four players—Randy Staats, Billy Ward, Derek Maltz and Scott Loy—closing the gap. Kevin Rice, who scored the game-winning point against Notre Dame when the Irish visited the Carrier Dome March 29, tried to send the game to overtime in the last thirty seconds, but fell short by huge stop by Notre Dame goalie Connor Kelly.
“There’s about ten seconds left and I went to the rack,” Rice said. “I mean, that’s really on me. I’ve got to finish that in that situation.”
Not that Rice had a terrible game. Following his six assists and one goal in the game, Rice now holds the ACC tournament record for points.
Additionally, Rice, Brandon Mullins, Dylan Donahue and Randy Staats, who had five goals against the Irish, were named to the ACC all-tournament team following the game.
The Orange face their final opponent of the season, Colgate, this Saturday, May 3 at 4 pm at the Carrier Dome, before “the real deal starts,” as Rice said.
Posted by: Jillian Thaw