Driven by lack of respect, Syracuse looks to prove superiority over Notre Dame at Big East tournament

first_imgThe May issue of Inside Lacrosse features a Notre Dame player on the cover, blowing past a defender. On the inside there’s a feature about the Fighting Irish defense. Goaltender John Kemp stands in the middle, flanked by his highly touted defense—the same defense that just found itself outplayed by Syracuse’s on Saturday in the Orange’s 10-4 victory.The article now hangs on Dominic Lamolinara’s wall. He saw both defenses on Saturday, but not many shots. His defense was superior.“That’s definitely also going to add a little bit of incentive,” Lamolinara said.It’s been a driving factor for Syracuse this season. That level of disrespect isn’t common in Central New York. But this year’s Orange (11-3, 5-1 Big East), which came into the season ranked outside the Top 10, has ascended to No. 3 and has a chance to claim the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a dominant performance at the Big East tournament, starting with Thursday’s 4:30 p.m. faceoff with No. 5 Notre Dame (10-3, 4-2). The victor will advance to the Big East championship on Saturday at noon against the winner of the later semifinal between No. 19 Villanova and Georgetown.A 9-8 finish a year ago appeared to signify a changing of the guard atop the lacrosse world. No longer was SU an unbeatable superpower. With no national titles in three seasons, Syracuse was no longer the mark of excellence.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA week-one, double-overtime loss to Albany made the criticisms seem valid. The Orange surrendered 16 goals to the Great Danes and tumbled to No. 18 in the rankings. For a moment, the great SU lacrosse dynasty seemed dead.“You could read the newspapers and rankings and have it turn around and now lose to Albany and believe what everybody’s saying,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said, “but fortunately we responded the other way.”The Orange has since surged back to the top of the sport. It’s won 11 of its last 13 games, and its three losses this season have come by a combined three goals.But even on Saturday, SU felt disrespected.Syracuse held the top-ranked team in the nation to just four goals in a six-goal victory. UND head coach Kevin Corrigan knows he has a good team — there’s a reason the Fighting Irish have been No. 1 all year. He knows they’ll figure things out before the Big East tournament.But on Saturday he didn’t credit the team that embarrassed his. He placed all the blame upon himself and his players, not once crediting SU’s staunch defensive effort.“Look, we were bad all night long,” Corrigan said after the game. “We were turning the ball over. They had the ball the whole night.”Corrigan’s words have saved Syracuse in a week it could get complacent. The Orange rolled through a dominant fourth quarter and stifled a talented Irish team for a full 60 minutes.It was an effort worth praise, so the SU defense takes Corrigan’s words personally.“We won, but they’re saying that we won because Notre Dame didn’t have a good game,” Syracuse defender Brian Megill said. “That’s a shot right to the chest. We’re taking it, and we’re using it as motivation because what if we just played really well, you know? What if we’re just the better team?”The Orange sits at No. 6 in the RPI—five spots behind the No. 1 Fighting Irish. SU has paid its dues this year with a grueling schedule and has still climbed back toward the top of the nation, but it still has a bit more to prove.A pair of wins this weekend and it will claim back-to-back Big East championships before heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference and maybe a No. 1-overall seed. Four more wins after that and Syracuse will have its first national title since 2009.“You just want to win it for this year,” Lamolinara said. “We’re not really trying to make a legacy for ourselves, so we just want to go through this year, and get through the playoffs, get the best seed possible and beat Notre Dame on Thursday.” Comments Published on May 2, 2013 at 11:08 am Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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