After allowing a 12-0 Notre Dame run through the opening period and the first six minutes of the second quarter, Syracuse finally got on the board. Brendan Curry came barreling across the left wing, using his speed to send a quick strike into the back of the net. The score sparked a 3-2 SU run, the only stretch where it could muster significant offense despite trailing by double digits.
But at the start of the second half, the Fighting Irish came out running once again, with Pat Kavanagh, instead of Jake Taylor, leading the charge. Pat Kavanagh came off a pick set on Brett Kennedy and had enough time to plant his feet from 12 yards out and score his fourth goal of the day. He found Taylor twice more in the third quarter, giving Notre Dame a 15-goal lead heading into the final frame. The Fighting Irish eventually finished with a 22-6 win.
“They jumped on us and did not take the foot off the pedal,” head coach Gary Gait said. “Once they got a lead, we played better, but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. Unforced errors and forced errors made it really hard to come back.”
Here’s a look at some of Syracuse’s defensive mishaps against Notre Dame:
Screens have been something that Syracuse has utilized a lot in Gait’s offense, Tucker Dordevic said. But the Fighting Irish used that same strategy against the Orange’s defense in the first period, as Chris Kavanagh struck before his brother, Pat Kavanagh, off of one, finding the back of the net seven minutes into the game.
Taylor sets up his pick on Nick Caccamo right as he gets to the edge of goal, causing him to stumble while he gets back onto Chris Kavanagh. Longstick midfielder Brett Barlow, who was originally guarding Taylor, doesn’t properly switch, only shuffling a little bit to close off a part of the cage.
Against teams like Notre Dame that pose multiple scoring options, the Orange need to improve on calling out switches. Chris Kavanagh creates enough space to send an underhand shot right above Bobby Gavin, who expected a low shot.
“Defensively, it’s one missed slide or one missed check,” Gait said. “On their end, they’re making every shot they take.”
Taylor and more Taylor
Following his behind-the-back goal, Taylor received the ball behind the net. He quickly moved his stick behind his left shoulder, finding the bottom left corner of the net as he approached the crease.
The Fighting Irish were in the midst of getting into their 400 offensive set — which positioned one midfielder behind the cage, one near the X and the other four spread out near the crease. They went into this system a lot since Syracuse players, like Grant Murphy on this play, were unable to put proper pressure on Notre Dame’s player in the back — Taylor in this case.
Also, like they do when picks arrive, the Orange need to realize a switch is necessary when two players cross paths. Taylor’s path to goal went directly past Carter Rice as his man dumped the ball off to Taylor.
Taylor’s highlight-reel goals filled the first three periods, but he continued to find easy opportunities against the Orange late in the game, too. In the fourth quarter, Taylor got the ball as the Fighting Irish circled it to the left side of the field.
As the ball traveled to Taylor, Kennedy pointed at Brandon Aviles to switch onto Taylor. But Aviles initially runs toward Kennedy since he tries to stay on his initial man — Chris Kavanagh. Taylor gets enough space for a step-down into his shot, taking the high pass and sending the ball parallel to the turf, directly under the top pipe.
Like Gavin did earlier in the game, Harrison Thompson — his replacement — bit low, falling to his knees while Taylor found the top part of the net for his all-time, program-record eighth goal.
“We found little gaps here and there that I was just doing my part to pick apart and take advantage of whenever I could,” Taylor said.
This play was likely the biggest mistake the Orange made against the Fighting Irish, and one of the worst defensive plays they’ve made all year. It’s impossible to see Pat Kavanagh make the initial catch, but the outcome is clear once the camera catches up.
With 4.5 seconds left, Syracuse didn’t transition fast enough after a shot from Jacob Buttermore that ND goalie Liam Entenmann saved. Entenmann lofted the ball the length of the field realizing this lack of urgency, giving Pat Kavanagh a jump ball he easily hauls in.
Three defenders were in the area, but none were able to stop Pat Kavanagh. Caccamo is left resting his stick on his shoulders in shock after the play, with SU unable to stop even a desperation heave.
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