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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A week ago, Tucker Dordevic looked unstoppable when he scored five times for the second straight contest, including a miraculous between-the-legs goal. But Saturday at Arlotta Stadium, Dordevic — and Syracuse’s entire offensive unit — looked mediocre as it struggled to find a rhythm.
Dordevic, Brendan Curry and Owen Seebold each had three or more turnovers. Each are crucial pieces of the Syracuse offense. On two separate occasions, Dordevic took his eyes off a routine pass and it ricocheted off his stick and out of bounds for a turnover.
“Unforced errors and forced errors made it really hard to come back,” head coach Gary Gait said.
The unit produced just three first-quarter shots, a timeframe where Notre Dame had 16 of its own and led 9-0 after the first 15 minutes. On the first possession of the afternoon, SU didn’t take a shot until 75 seconds of the 90-second possession had ticked away, and the only shot it managed was a tight-angle attempt from Curry that was always going to fly wide of the cage.
“It wasn’t a great effort,” Gait said. “It was a rough one, it really was.”
No. 18 Syracuse (4-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) scored just six goals on Saturday afternoon as it fell 22-6 to No. 16 Notre Dame (4-4, 2-1 ACC), the program’s lowest since a 15-3 loss to UAlbany in 2018. The Orange had an offensive efficiency of just 15.0%, the lowest of the season, according to Lacrosse Reference. They had their worst turnover percentage of the season (45.0%) and their second-lowest shooting percentage (16.7%) and shots per possession (0.90).
In the first quarter, Matteo Corsi turned the ball over when his stick was hit to the ground. Notre Dame scored to make it 1-0, and then after SU forced a turnover, Saam Olexo lost the ball once more and UND went up 2-0.
It continued to get worse. Seebold had the ball whacked out of his stick when he was looking for a pass at X, and Quinn McCahon helped the Fighting Irish make that into a 4-0 lead. SU had five first quarter turnovers and another six in the second quarter. Notre Dame turned that into a 12-0 run to start the game, one that Gait said was too much for Syracuse to overcome once it settled into the game.
“In the first quarter, we can’t make a pass, we drop the ball, we get stripped (of the ball),” Gait said. “It was one bad play after another.”
The offense couldn’t get shots off because it kept turning the ball over. It rarely had multiple shots on the same possession, something that was almost guaranteed against Duke a week prior when it had one of its best performances of the season.
With SU trailing 10-0 at the start of the second quarter, Nick Caccamo charged forward with the ball in his stick. Up to that point, Syracuse hadn’t gotten anything going on offense, so when Caccamo saw an opportunity, the defender — of all people — saw it fit to try his luck.
Minutes earlier, the Orange had been outshot 17-3, a statline which quickly worsened as Pat Kavanagh found his brother, Chris Kavanagh to make it 11-0. So when Caccamo shot, and the effort sailed just over the top of the cage, it still felt like Syracuse’s best opportunity of the day.
That’s how much Syracuse was struggling.
In the second and third quarters, Syracuse notched 14 and 12 shots, respectively, but were able to cash in just four of those attempts. Three of those four goals came unassisted, a sign of Syracuse’s lack of off-ball movement on offense.
Curry scored Syracuse’s first goal when he came barreling down a lane on the left side and hit the back of the net. Seconds after that goal, Jakob Phaup won a quick faceoff and SU had a chance in transition when Brandon Aviles found long-stick midfielder Landon Clary on the doorstep for an easy goal. But Clary shot right at Notre Dame goalie Liam Entenmann, who made the save. Shortly after, Dordevic unloaded a rocket when he noticed that he had a short-stick matchup. He used a spin-dodge to make it 13-2 in the second quarter.
But neither Dordevic nor Curry was as efficient as they needed to be. Dordevic scored just two goals on 10 shots, and Curry had one on 10 shots as well. Phaup won SU 20-of-31 faceoffs, getting his offense the ball.
Syracuse simply couldn’t cash in. It looked disjointed on many occasions, like when Curry missed a backward pass toward Mikey Berkman, who had to scramble back to midfield to re-collect the ball.
Then when Berkman had an opportunity to scoop up the ground ball, he missed it. After a period of scrappy defensive play immediately after from SU, Notre Dame’s Jake Taylor started at X and scored an around-the-world goal where he unloaded an over-the-shoulder shot. Taylor, who scored a program-record eight goals in the game, said it was his favorite goal.
“It was a great performance on their part, that’s what we wished our team could do, and had done,” Gait said.