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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Syracuse looked sluggish from the opening faceoff against Notre Dame. Maintenance issues forced the Orange onto a second airplane, and they only arrived for their game in South Bend, Indiana, roughly 12 hours before game time. And Jake Taylor, who had only scored two goals this year, took full advantage.
After scooping the ball up, Eric Dobson found Taylor running wide-open down the right side of the field. Taylor quickly moved his stick behind his left shoulder, finding the bottom left corner of the net as he approached the crease. And after a man-up, left-handed score less than two minutes later, Taylor got the ball behind the cage. He shifted his stick over his right shoulder without looking as he ran to the front, scoring against Harrison Thompson.
By the end of the first period, Taylor had scored underhand, behind the back, overhand and over the shoulder. And by the end of the game, his eight goals were more than he had scored combined in his three-year career entering the day.
“They totally dominated; they couldn’t make mistakes,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said about Notre Dame’s first-quarter play. “It looked like we were on a plane somewhere else trying to get there.”
No. 18 Syracuse (4-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) gave up nine goals in the first quarter, the most in an opening period in eight years. Following an upset over then-No. 11 Duke, the Orange were blown out by No. 18 Notre Dame (3-4, 1-1 ACC) 22-6. Like last season, when the Fighting Irish beat SU after it upset Virginia, the Fighting Irish ruined any momentum Syracuse might’ve had with an offensive onslaught, led by Taylor’s program-record eight goals.
“We just kept picking the scab,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said postgame. “We kept the ball moving, and so we were finding different things, and I think that’s what made it hard for them, too.”
Last year, Pat Kavanagh set an all-time program record with 10 points against the Orange. The 22 goals SU allowed in that game were its worst until Saturday, but Syracuse also scored its fewest goals so far this year on Saturday.
On May 1, 2021, Pat Kavanagh exposed holes in the Orange’s defense that were plugged just a week before against the Cavaliers. Toward the beginning of the second period, both teams were tied at four, but similar to this year’s first period, the Fighting Irish outscored SU 9-2 for the rest of the quarter with Pat Kavanagh leading the push.
Following the first period on Saturday, the Fighting Irish went right back on offense after Jakob Phaup lost at the faceoff X. Dobson scored, and on the ensuing possession, Pat Kavanagh took the ball behind the cage, shuffling back and forth as Notre Dame’s attacks tried to get the separation they had been getting all game.
Chris Kavanagh emerged open on the right side with Dami Oladunmoye on him, able to unwind his attempt into the top left corner of the net. Brett Kennedy said players like Taylor caught the ball and scored every time, but the off-ball defense was the issue for the Orange.
“We just need to do a better job of preparing with our on-ball or off-ball defense,” Kennedy said.
The Fighting Irish’s next two scores came off one-on-one opportunities as the Orange tried to mimic their defensive setup that had worked against Duke. But the Blue Devils didn’t circle the ball around their offense as much as Notre Dame did. While sending the ball from player to player, the Fighting Irish ensured that the Orange were unable to get any help defenders to slide. Kennedy said the defense was prepared for the Fighting Irish to spread the ball out with their 400 offensive set — which positioned one midfielder behind the cage, one near the X and the other four spread out near the crease — but they were unable to execute.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t guard the ball, we didn’t execute or help one another,” Kennedy said.
The holes continued to open near the crease as well. Taylor scored behind his back again with four minutes left in the first half, receiving a carefully threaded pass from Pat Kavanagh in the middle of the crease. In one motion, Taylor caught the ball and shifted the stick behind his left shoulder, bouncing the ball right in front of Thompson’s left foot into the back of the net.
With less than five seconds left in the half, the Orange completely folded defensively. After stopping a shot from Jacob Buttermore, goalie Liam Entenmann lofted the ball the length of the field into Pat Kavanagh’s stick. Three defenders were in the area, but none were able to stop Pat Kavanagh from securing the ball and putting it in the back of the net with 1.5 seconds left.
Then in the third quarter, Pat Kavanagh came off a pick set on Kennedy and had enough time to stop, planting his feet from 12 yards out to find the back of the net for the fourth time. Phaup continued to struggle at the X, losing the ball in Notre Dame’s half to allow Pat Kavanagh to take back possession. He ran toward the cage, finding Chris Kavanagh at the crease for an easy dunk.
Still, Syracuse’s defense was able to slow down Notre Dame momentarily, bringing in slides at the right time to help its one-on-one defenders. Oladunmoye worked with two other defenders and sent Dobson to the ground as Thompson stopped his shot.
But the Fighting Irish regained possession, and Pat Kavanagh found Taylor open in the middle of the field, allowing him to break his almost 17-minute scoreless streak. Pat Kavanagh then dished the ball to Taylor for a goal a minute later, tying a Notre Dame program record for goals in a single game with his seventh score.
And less than six minutes into the final quarter, Taylor broke the record, sending a right-handed bullet past Thompson’s elevated stick.
“Once they got a lead, we played better, but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Gait said. “Unforced errors and forced errors made it really hard to come back.”
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