Mother Nature gave Syracuse and Notre Dame a little break today -- there was a faint drizzle, but the expected downpour never materialized. Both teams had little trouble making sharp cuts during their run-throughs and the field appeared to be well drained. Plus, the reigning Miss New Jersey, whatever her name is, belted out the national anthem, so things were ready to roll.
Cuse was in white, the Irish in navy. The crowd was sparse, but still filing in. Cercy squared off against DeBolt at the x in the middle of the field to start the game and Cercy jumped the gun, giving the Irish first crack. Glatzel couldn't handle a routine pass at the endline so Cuse took it down and challenged with Coffman across the top, and when he dumped it Spencer Wright at the point, Kirk Howell stoned the following laser with ease.
The Irish got on the board first at 12:07 of the first when Chris Young stutter stepped at the top right of the box and drove across and in to his left. He underhanded it lefty and it dribbled by Mulligan with a lot of traffic in front of him.
Syracuse's offense turned on the juice right after that. Banks, off to Howell's right at goal line extended, found Springer cutting to the pipe underneath, but Howell snuffed the point blank turn and shoot from Springer. Then Solliday, running to the left pipe from up top with a half a step, put a routine bouncer by Howell for 1-1 tie. On the next face, Powell, who was running the wing on the face, grabbed the loose ball and drove all the way down the left wing -- he fed across to Springer, who was running parallel with Powell, and Springer buried it low for a quick 2-1 lead. Springer bumped it to 3-1 when he grabbed some garbage right on the crease after Banks tried to force it in the middle. Springer had already hit the back of the net before Notre Dame's longsticks knew where the ball had squirted out to. Then it moved to 4-1 when Banks was planted at X and got the ball on clockwise rotation. Banks drop stepped and threaded a feed to Steve Vallone cutting across the face of the goal. Vallone nailed the upper right corner as he was moving away from the goal.
The Irish have an offense too, and with 5:23 to go in the first Notre Dame got one on a nice series of passes -- Glatzel got it on the right wing, bumped it to Ulrich immediately at a shallow X, and Ulrich immediately hit Harvey cutting down to him after the quick ball rotation caused his crease defender to become out of position. 4-2 Syracuse.
Notre Dame then had two great opportunities that didn't hit paydirt only because of some Mulligan heroics. David Ulrich jumped out on a one on none fast break after the Cuse ride slid upfield and missed a pickoff attempt. Mulligan was a cat to the five hole. Then Glatzel got the ball against a shorty behind (he had to work to get open) and bulled around lefty from behind. When Glatzel was able to turn his shoulders and unleash one, Mulligan met him high and blanked him.
Notre Dame then went on the EMO when Tom Glatzel got crushed while still on his knees from a ground ball tussle (it was a cheap shot), but the Irish weren't backing up so Mulligan beat it out to the endline. It was one of many instances when the Irish had blown some chances, especially on the part of Glatzel. He alone was responsible for getting checked from behind on a breakaway, nailing a pipe, getting stoned on point blank chances twice, and missing an all-alone rip that sailed high.
Some poor shot selection followed for the remaining seconds of the quarter (Powell took a shot with about a 1° angle after Cuse had been on defense for 2:00 straight) and Banks tried to squeeze it into Springer on the crease as time was running out. The 1st ended 4-2 Syracuse.
The second started with a bang. Spencer Wright was moving back and forth on the lefty wing just 7 yards off to Howell's left, and when he rolled back to the inside, with his left elbow completely lifted, he bounced a lame duck one-hander by Howell to the near pipe. How it got by Howell is beyond me. Another minute or two in and it became 6-2. Banks stood back deep behind the goal, surveyed the field without any pressure, and hit Pat Hogan cutting down to the pipe. The four goal margin was the largest deficit Notre Dame had had all season.
Then Notre Dame fell into their bizzarro offense which would haunt them for the rest of the game. For a team whose hallmark all year long was crisp, lightening fast ball movement and uncanny awareness of cutters, the second quarter would be completely out of character.
John Flandina tried to bull around the pipe lefty, but held on to the ball for far too long against Cuse's active sticks -- he got stripped in a hurry when tied up while the slide behind him came flying. Syracuse brought it down on the clear and pushed it behind, eventually drawing a penalty on Notre Dame's longpoles. On the EMO for Cuse, which came a weak on-the-head call against AJ Wright on Banks, Notre Dame saw right through Cuse's wheel rotation -- they anticipated the final pass to Powell, who was rotating from behind, and stripped him.
David Ulrich tried to go one against the world and was abruptly picked clean when he put on some blinders. Then Cuse put on a tough ride after Howell blanked a Banks sure thing, forcing the Irish to make some dangerous, lofting, cross field passes in the limited space between midfield and the restraining line. But it wouldn't matter if they had botched the clear anyways -- there was now some really ugly stuff from Notre Dame -- they couldn't even catch the ball on uncontested passes and were throwing it away on routine passes around the outside.
It got bumped to 7-2 at 5:49 when Solliday came in from near the box and never got picked up as he made a line for the pipe. He buried it low on the run and Notre Dame's defense looked around for someone to blame.
More 1 on 3 dodging from Glatzel, with bad results, and then Cuse converted on the other end when Powell found Springer cutting down the middle for a commanding 8-2 lead. Syracuse was having a great deal of success hanging back on the wings and behind and then threading it to cutters (who were open all over the place) because the Irish were not pressuring any feeders, and they were getting lazy with their coverage of guys on the crease. They didn't seem to mind giving cutters a step, almost as if they were daring Syracuse to find them and feed it to them. Banks and Powell had no problem obliging.
Springer picked a cross field clearing pass (the Irish were again flirting with danger on their clears) along the restraining line and ran in with nothing but space in front of him. Howell, who was caught upfield, threw his stick into the goal from 15 yards out in a hopeless attempt to stop Springer. The penalty on Howell was only for :30, so it got wiped out by the goal. 9-2 Cuse.
Notre Dame closed it to six when Kyle Frigon was forcing a feed from behind and Mulligan knocked it down, but not cleanly -- Frigon continued around the goal and grabbed his own garbage to stick it back-handed by Mulligan.
The Irish would have another chance in the closing moments of the half. Notre Dame got awarded an EMO at 1:10 in the half when Powell was caught offsides, but Mulligan came up huge again and stuffed a Todd Ulrich rocket. When Cuse managed to get it over the midfield, and briefly into Springer's stick, Desko called for a timeout.
A second quarter note: Notre Dame looked like pansies on any loose ball. They had plenty of chances to wipe Syracuse guys out, or at least run through a ground ball, but they repeatedly ducked out of the way any time an Orangeman even contested a ground ball. It got so bad that the Irish looked like they were conceding any toss-up possessions to Syracuse.
Banks was overthrown during the last seconds of the half and Howell bolted out for the ball. When Howell moved it to AJ Wright along the sideline, Wright nearly cost Notre Dame another -- his buddy pass to the restraining line ended up in Irish hands though, and time ran out on the half. 9-3 Syracuse and it wasn't looking promising for the Irish.
Mulligan gathered the opening third quarter faceoff after it was goosed back to him, but some shoddy clearing resulted in a handful of alternating possessions. Cuse came down eventually and ripped one at Howell, but he stood tall. Howell tried to outlet after he stoned another, but 6'4" Mike Springer was goal hanging with his stick up. He tipped it and it ricocheted to Mike Powell , who bumped it right back to Springer for the dunk shot and a 10-3 lead. Abendroth then dinked David Ulrich behind the neck and sent it the other way. When the Irish controlled again, after a good ground ball on their defensive end, Glatzel gave another shot bulling/finessing around the pipe lefty -- Mulligan had his number this time too.
David Urich then had some bad luck -- he threw it away early on an EMO then, on the next time down, he tried to drive to X from the wing and fell to the turf with a busted ankle. Notre Dame busted Cuse's clear and the ref finally called for time to help get Ulrich off the field. But Tom Glatzel got another picked off when he tried to loop one over the top of Syracuse's defense after posting up on the left pipe.
Notre Dame finally got to really work it around on the offensive end and displayed some patience. It resulted in two pipes after David Ulrich (he was back in the game) was back to his normal shake and bake behind the goal and started to get some good looks. They kept plugging away at it, and it paid off. David Ulrich, working at X, split to his left and pumped a quick feed to Jon Harvey cutting down towards him. Harvey finished on a helpless Mulligan for a 4-10 tally. It looked like Notre Dame's usual offense -- quick feet created slides that the defense didn't want to make, and then quick wrists connected on cutters filling the space from the slide. But it wouldn't last.
Debolt won the next face and Notre Dame settled for even more possession. Chris Young managed to get a time and room rip after catching Cuse a slide short, but it sailed high and Mulligan beat it out.
Then it was Powell to Springer (his 6th of the day) for an 11-4 lead. Notre Dame had left Springer with room on the crease (more lazy crease coverage) and Powell whipped it to him from the left wing. Springer didn't even cradle when he got it -- he snatched it lefty, turned his shoulders to Howell and redirected it for a picture perfect laser to the top right corner. There was just :30 left in the third, and although the Irish looked considerably more composed, and were working their thing, it was quickly becoming out of the reach. The 3rd ended 11-4 Syracuse.
Notre Dame's Debolt grabbed another face to start the fourth and the Irish banged out a series of crisp looks after some dodging that forced slides. The shots were still not falling for them though -- Mulligan was playing the angles really well, and Cuse's longsticks doubled with perfect timing on the second slides. Whenever someone left the crease to help out on the wing, the back side defenseman was already in the hole, insuring that Notre Dame would have to really whip it around to beat them. And Notre Dame was playing with a lot of blinders on.
When Cuse settled, Banks again stood unfettered behind and took his time to size up the cutters. He found Jason Januszkiewicz with room at the top of the hole and Januszkiewicz hit the back of the net with a stick side blast to the hip.
There was some more ugly play between the restraining lines until the Irish settled. Chris Young led Todd Ulrich a little too much on a pass up top, and Ulrich jogged leisurely after the ground ball, letting a Cuse longstick pass him by. It was consistent with the way the Irish had been playing all day -- there was absolutely no killer instinct.
Notre Dame eventually recovered, but Solomon Bliss raped David Ulrich in the back corner and sent it downfield. To be honest, the game after this point is not even worth relaying. Both teams were going through the motions and Notre Dame had lost all hope. There was a lot more ugly middle of the field play that kept the ball moving up and down, but when Syracuse let a rip go it was clear someone was trying to pad their stats. When Notre Dame had an opportunity to control a loose ball if they went full force for it, they usually pulled up. It was ugly, and definitely disappointing.
Notre Dame did manage to notch one for the stat sheet when, with just a little to go, Todd Ulrich stood at the top left of the box and ripped it to his brother on the backside. David snatched it out of the air and burned Mulligan for a quick behind the back score from the crease to make it 12-5. The game would end that way after some clock killing.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame