Syracuse men’s lacrosse limps to the finish line in 18-11 loss to Notre Dame

SU lacrosse finishes first season under Gait with 18-11 loss to Notre Dame

The Orange finished with 10 losses in a season for the first time in program history on Sunday.
Published: May 2, 2022
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Grant Murphy, pictured here against Army, is one of 11 seniors who played their last games for Syracuse on Sunday.

A day meant to celebrate 11 members of the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team ended quietly Sunday. The Orange fell to the No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 18-11, falling to a record of 4-10 on the season.

The story of this game mirrored many of the Orange’s outings this year. Notre Dame jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the first quarter and stretched that to 8-2 five minutes into the second. The two schools traded goals back and forth for 15 minutes. Every Irish score was countered with one by the Orange; when Notre Dame finally scored back-to-back goals with 8:31 and 5:02 left to play in the third, Syracuse midfielder Jackson Birtwistle scored twice in a 21-second span.

The Orange matched Notre Dame’s intensity all afternoon. When an Irish midfielder bull rushed through the chest of a Syracuse defensive midfielder, the Orange responded in kind the very next possession.

Syracuse’s defense continued their physical play that has served as their calling card all season, while the offense answered every pinch Notre Dame threw at them. After jumping out to an eight-goal lead, though, the Orange was unable to cut the lead to anything closer than four goals.

Despite the defensive efforts, 11 different players scored for the Irish, a departure from the last matchup between the two teams. In Syracuse’s 22-6 loss to Notre Dame back in March, Jake Taylor notched eight goals for the Irish. While Taylor was held to just one goal today, Notre Dame did an incredible job spreading the love. It proved to be the death knell for any hope Syracuse had to go out on a high note.

By almost any standard, this is one of the most disappointing years in recent memory for the men’s lacrosse program. Entering the preseason ranked No. 10 in the nation, Syracuse finished with their first 10-loss season in program history. Their 4-10 record is their lowest win percentage since 1975. The six-game losing streak capped off by this loss is the first since 1966.

On paper, Gary Gait’s inaugural season as men’s lacrosse head coach was a failure. If you look on the field, though, it’s easy to see why this team was valued so highly before the first game. The fight in the players—especially the 11 members of the senior class—is undeniable.

“Unfortunately, the record is what it is,” Gait said during his postgame press conference. “It kind of defines our year. But it doesn’t show the effort and the work that these players put in to try and have success. I’m very proud of that effort.”

Their respect for their head coach is just as apparent. Redshirt senior defender Brett Kennedy held back tears as he shared his optimism for the future of this program.

“It just speaks to the brotherhood built here at Syracuse,” Kennedy said. “We have guys that want to be here. We have fighters – this foundation truly is being built with a special group of guys and a special staff. Moving forward, the future is bright. Syracuse will be back on top soon. I have so much belief in [Gait].”

The day wasn’t all bad, though. Senior midfielder Brendan Curry entered today’s action with 92 career goals, needing eight more to be one of five midfielders in program history to cross the century mark. Curry was stonewalled most of the afternoon, hitting the cage once on five shots through the first three quarters. He finally found his stride in the fourth, scoring his first goal of the game with just under nine-and-a-half minutes left and his second two minutes later.

While he fell short of the 100-goal threshold, the pair of goals helped Brendan Curry jump one player on Syracuse’s all-time scoring list: Todd Curry, Brendan’s father. Todd was in the dome to see that bit of Syracuse history happen.

“Probably one of the coolest moments of my life, being able to look up at him,” said Brendan Curry. “He’s the reason I’m here at Syracuse. He’s the reason I’m wearing this number. He’s taught me everything I know about the game. To be able to look up at him and share that moment in my last game ever was extremely cool. It’s something I’ll never forget about this game for the rest of my life.”

Avatar for Cale Clinton

is a sports reporter for The NewsHouse, and a graduate student in the magazine, news & digital journalism program. Also, Clinton is a Football Outsiders staff writer and former Amherst Student reporter and editor.