VILLANOVA, Pa. The Syracuse University mens lacrosse team continues to step up its defensive game.
In meeting of two of the top-ranked teams in the nation, the second-seeded Orange shut down No. 3 Notre Dame, 9-3, on Thursday in a Big East Tournament semifinal at Villanova Stadium.
Syracuse (12-3), ranked No. 3 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse national poll and fifth in the USILA poll, advances to face top-seeded Villanova (7-7) in the conference title game at noon on Saturday at Villanova.
The Orange is seeking its second consecutive Big East Tournament title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Syracuse limited Notre Dame (10-4), ranked fifth and sixth in the country, to a season-low three goals, holding the Fighting Irish scoreless for a span of 35 minutes, 19 seconds.
The Orange defeated Notre Dame for the second time in six days as Syracuse won 10-4 on Saturday to earn a share of the regular-season title.
We challenged ourselves, Syracuse head coach John Desko said. Its difficult to play a team that we just played. But the guys did a good job of being mentally and emotionally prepared.
Derek Maltz scored two goals and assisted on two others to lead a balanced attack by the Orange.
Kevin Rice and Hakeem Lecky each scored twice for Syracuse, and JoJo Marasco generated a Big East Tournament-record four assists.
Each game we are getting stronger and its showing, said Marasco, the Big Easts midfielder of the year. John Kemp is a great goalie and for us to put 10 and nine goals against him in two games shows a lot.
Goalie Dominic Lamolinara made 10 saves for the Orange.
I thought the defense, once again, was superb, Desko said. They just played solid all game long. When they did have some good opportunities, I thought Dom made some great saves today. As a result, I think thats why the score was the way it was.
With Syracuses defense keeping the Irish at bay, the Orange scored three goals in the last four minutes of the second quarter to build a 5-2 halftime lead.
Dylan Donahue started the scoring spree by finishing a Maltz feed in transition with 3:14 left. Less than a minute later, Maltz sent a pass to Lecky who fired a drive past Kemp for a 4-2 advantage. Rice capped the first-half scoring by converting a Marasco feed at the 1:25 mark of the period.
In the third quarter, Syracuse continued to pour it on as Maltz scored back-to-back goals to extend the Orange edge to 7-2, while holding the Fighting Irish scoreless in the period.