Syracuse defense frustrates Notre Dame for 2nd time in 6 days

first_imgVILLANOVA, Pa. — Five days ago, the Syracuse defense turned in perhaps its best performance of the season. It held No. 1 Notre Dame scoreless for the final 19:58 en route to clinching a share of the Big East regular season title.Fighting Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan blamed himself and his team. They would be better in Thursday’s rematch.But it was the Orange who improved, taking his words as a slight. If the SU defense frustrated UND on Saturday, then it suffocated them on Thursday.“I think we did,” Syracuse goaltender Dominic Lamolinara said. “We held them to less goals than we did on Saturday, so we picked it up.”For the second straight game, the No. 3 Orange’s (12-3) defense stymied one of the nation’s best teams. First, it allowed the Irish to just four goals in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic on Saturday. Then it one-upped itself in a 9-3 win over No. 5 Notre Dame (10-4) in the first round of the Big East tournament at Villanova Stadium on Thursday. Syracuse advances to play No. 19 Villanova in the championship game on Saturday at noon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We just got our butts kicked by the same team in the course of five days twice,” said Corrigan, UND’s head coach. “Give them credit, I don’t think we’ve played well in either game, but when you score three goals in the last six quarters against them, there’s a lot of reasons for that.”SU’s defense came out on Thursday with the same ferocity it closed with on Saturday. Defender David Hamlin once again made UND’s leading scorer Matt Kavanagh a non-factor, Lamolinara made three saves in the opening quarter and Syracuse held the Fighting Irish scoreless for the opening 8:57. The Irish’s scoring drought hit 28:55.“You’re pretty well prepared because you’ve seen what worked and what didn’t work against a team that you just played, being Notre Dame,” SU head coach John Desko said, “and fortunately we were able to go out and duplicate that again.”The Fighting Irish had just four days between games to figure out what went wrong offensively its first time out against Syracuse.They turned the ball over too many times and made poor decisions, issues that could straighten out with better execution. So Corrigan stuck to his plan, and Desko did, too, electing to keep his defenders close to the net.His strategy worked on Saturday and unless UND changed something, it would again in the Big East tournament.“We were watching to see if they were going to do something different offensively and we felt that we were going to have to adjust as we went,” Desko said. “Especially with giving up just four goals last game, I don’t think there was any different reason to go to a different scheme.”The Orange again packed its defense in and again the Irish couldn’t solve it. Lamolinara saw 12 shots in the game, but most came away from the net. He snatched an outside shot by midfielder Jim Marlatt out of the air to start the game, then reached down to make a save on a shot by midfielder Will Corrigan minutes later.But mostly he watched as Notre Dame misfired on passes or had the ball stripped away, ultimately turning the ball over 15 times.“(The defense) gave up shots that I wanted to have them,” Lamolinara said. “It was either low angle or it was really far out. I was seeing the ball really well today. That’s a credit to the defense just giving up the shots that I want to see.”After each of the past two games Lamolinara has fielded similar questions. Was it the defense’s best performance of the season? Was it his own personal best performance of the season?Either time it could have been the case. On Saturday, the Fighting Irish were No. 1. On Thursday SU held them to fewer goals as they sat atop the RPI.No longer is Syracuse relying on explosive attacks and dynamic midfielders, but also a stalwart defense that can carry it in slugfests like Saturday and Thursday. Moving into the Big East tournament final and the NCAA Tournament, they may be the most complete team in the country.Said Lamolinara: “I feel like as long as we keep this up we can make a run at the playoffs.” Comments Related Stories NOTRE TAMED: Syracuse offense breaks out late, defense clamps down on Fighting Irish to send Orange to Big East tournament finalsLamolinara shines in Big East tournament semifinal after watching from sideline last year Syracuse defense frustrates Notre Dame for 2nd time in 6 daysGallery: Syracuse beats Notre Dame 9-3 to advance to Big East tournament final Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on May 2, 2013 at 9:17 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2last_img

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