Near, Finley save Notre Dame lacrosse in win over No. 1 Syracuse

Lewis Bagley
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan admitted he would leave Arlotta Stadium Saturday in a joyous mood.

But Corrigan wasn’t going to get carried away with emotion after his No. 2-ranked Irish outlasted No. 1 Syracuse, 13-12 in overtime, in front of 3,604 fans.

“This was a great day and a great crowd and we had a great week of preparation,” Corrigan said after senior captain Jack Near scored the game winner with 2:54 left in the second overtime. “But, it doesn’t change the fact that we have to go back to work Monday. We have to get better.

“It was No. 1 vs. No. 2 today,” Corrigan continued, “but, it could easily be No. 1 vs. No. 2 again next week.”

The Irish will meet Atlantic Coast Conference-rival Duke April 4 in Durham, N.C.

Near’s goal bailed out the Irish (6-1 overall, 2-0 ACC), who blew a 9-3 lead they had built in the third quarter, thanks to a big performance by goalie Shane Doss.

Doss made 12 saves, a few bordering on the miraculous, that helped keep the Orange at bay through two-plus quarters. Syracuse outshot Notre Dame 17-13 in the first half and 44-35 for the game.

The Orange, however, got going in the third quarter behind junior Dylan Donahue.

Donahue finished the contest with seven goals, scoring five in a 10-minute stretch of the third and fourth quarters that helped Syracuse (7-1, 2-1) rally within 11-10 with 8:28 remaining.

“If they find a weakness, they exploit it,” Corrigan said of Syracuse. “I think they did that to us, but lacrosse is a momentum game, so it wasn’t surprising they made a run.”

Tim Barber brought Syracuse all the way back as his unassisted goal tied the game with 3:55 remaining before Donahue’s seventh goal gave the Orange their only lead at 12-11 with 1:06 left.

The Irish were hardly deflated as P.J. Finley won the ensuing faceoff, sprinted straight up the field and beat Syracuse goalie Bobby Wardwell with :59.8 left.

Finally, in overtime (four minutes) No. 2, Near found himself behind the Syracuse net and made a move to Wardwell’s left and got it past the goalie to end a contest, that lived up to the No. 1 vs. No. 2 billing.

“I went hard to the net,” Near said, “and I didn’t get it in at first. This is absolutely a huge boost for us, but we have to look at it as just another win.”

Near, Sergio Perkovic and Nick Ossello each had a pair of goals for the Irish, while Matt Kavanaugh had a goal and three assists.