Three Thoughts: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame

The Orange fall in the season-finale

The Orange came into South Bend with a chance to possibly clinch an NCAA Tournament berth. The team didn't play like it had anything to prove in the first half, going scoreless for the first two quarters of the game. After Notre Dame took a 4-0 lead into halftime, Syracuse lit a fire and came out strong in the second half. The bench was energized, the players were fighting for ground balls and the Orange looked like it could win the game. But the Fighting Irish fought off Syracuse and never let them cut the lead to less than one. Notre Dame solidifed its perfect Big East record with an 8-6 win.

Here are three thoughts from the game:

1. Bobby Wardwell is here to stay...

After a shakey first couple of starts, Wardwell has solidified his role as the starting Orange goalkeeper heading into tournament play. Wardwell finished the day with nine saves, six of those coming in the second half. He is the reason Syracuse had a chance to win the game. He made the big saves late in the game, which is huge coming from a freshman. Wardwell will be a huge asset heading into tournament play and might be the difference in a close game.

2. A good sign from JoJo Marasco... 

Marasco has quietly had a pretty good year. But the player on the Orange wearing No. 22 isn't supposed to be quiet. He's supposed to be a team leader, an energy guy who makes big plays when the team needs him to. Marasco showed signs that he's ready to step up and be that guy today. He finished with three points on two goals and an assist. The stat that really stands out is that he took seven shots, more than any other play on the team. Marasco has realized that he is the key to the Orange's success, when he takes charge, the team does better. He took charge in the second half and Syracuse mounted a huge comeback. Even though they fell just short, it's good to see Marasco living up to the number on his back. 

3. Big East tournament is a must-win... 

Since the Orange couldn't pull out the victory today and clinch the NCAA Tournament berth, the future of the team's post-season relies on the Big East tournament. Syracuse needs to win the Big East Tournament this weekend and grab the automatic bid. If they don't, the team will be sitting on the bubble. The Orange are slated to play the home team, Villanova, in the first round of the tournament. The Wildcats took down the Orange in a close game at the Carrier Dome earlier this season. If Syracuse advances past Villanova, the team will take on the winner of St. Johns and Notre Dame. Syracuse pulled out a one goal victory against St. Johns earlier this season but would face a huge challenge if it had to play the Fighting Irish again. Maybe with the stakes so high, the seniors will step up any carry the team into the NCAA Tournament. 

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