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Notre Dame denies Syracuse in ACC final

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CHESTER, Pa. — In a championship game showdown between the Altantic Coast Conference’s newest members in men’s lacrosse, Syracuse’s comeback bid came up just short this time.

No. 9 Notre Dame held off a furious rally attempt to hold off No. 4 Syracuse, 15-14, on Sunday to win the ACC Tournament title at PPL Park.

The Orange (10-4) scored four goals in the last nine minutes, but couldn’t overcome a 15-10 deficit two days after rallying from four goals down in the fourth quarter to record an improbable 16-15 win against reigning national champion Duke in the semifinals.

“Who said we’re not in the entertainment business?” Syracuse coach John Desko said. “My hat’s off to Notre Dame. I thought they played hard the whole game. In the second half, they started to pull away from us. We had to take a timeout to slow the bleeding. We settled down and that’s when we started our run to come back. We just fell a goal short.”

Matt Kavanagh paced the Irish with four goals and two assists to earn tournament MVP honors for Notre Dame (8-5), which gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by snapping the Orange’s six-game winning streak. Conor Doyle contributed five points (two goals, three assists), and Jim Marlatt added four points (three goals, one assist).

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We didn’t play tentatively like a team that’s afraid and not sure what’s going to happen to them. We played like a team that’s going to go out and win games.

“The one thing was, no matter what happened — good play, bad play — we turned it right around, focused on the next play and played really hard and really fearlessly.”

Junior Kevin Rice, who had three goals and five assists against Duke, paced the Orange with one goal and six assists against Notre Dame to set the ACC Tournament records for points (15) and assists (11).

Randy Staats tied his career high with five goals. Nicky Galasso and Derek Maltz added two goals and one assist apiece.

With the score even at 7-7 through the first half. Notre Dame took control by outscoring the Orange 7-2 in the third quarter.

Duke then led 14-9 heading into the fourth quarter.

After a goal by Staats, Jack Near provided the Irish with a 15-10 advantage with 9:45 remaining. Syracuse then reeled off four goals, including three in a span of 3:23, capped by Scott Loy’s tally with 2:02 left to close within 15-14.

Syracuse had two chances to tie the game in the final minute, but Billy Ward’s shot with 41 seconds to play hit the post and Notre Dame goalie Conor Kelly (eight saves) made a game-saving save on Rice with two seconds left.

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