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Second half barrage lifts Irish in season opener

Pat Leonard | Monday, March 1, 2004

Recent meetings between Notre Dame and Penn State have been one-goal victories and overtime nailbiters. The same pattern seemed to take hold of the Irish season opener Sunday – in the first half, anyway.Behind four goals from sophomore midfielder Matt Karweck and three goals and three assists from senior midfielder Matt Howell, the Irish took a 7-5 halftime lead and turned it into a 17-7 win at Meyo Field Sunday, outscoring the Nittany Lions 10-2 in the second half and 5-0 in the fourth quarter.”This game has been a battle every year,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “And it was the same way today for a half. We shared some goals. At the end of the first half, [a two-goal lead] is nothing. In the second half, though, I think we made some plays offensively and shot the ball well.”Notre Dame (1-0) entered the contest ranked No. 11 in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason rankings and No. 14 in the Inside Lacrosse Power poll. No. 17 Penn State (1-1) had defeated Ohio State 5-4 prior to Sunday’s loss.Notre Dame presented a much more dynamic offense than that of the Buckeyes. Six Irish players scored at least two goals, with four players tallying two or more assists.Coming out of halftime with a 7-5 lead, Notre Dame got on the board first with a Karweck goal at the 14:41 mark of the third quarter.After that, it was all Irish.Following senior attack Dan Berger’s third goal of the game with 12:30 remaining, junior midfielder Craig Bishko won the ensuing face-off and raced upfield. Sophomore midfielder Pat Walsh (three goals, two assists) would find the ball and score at the 12:24 mark, just six seconds after the previous goal.”We went from sharing face-offs and loose balls to getting a lot of them,” Corrigan said. “We dominated face-offs in the second half.”Winning face-offs and beating the Nittany Lions to ground balls in the second half turned the stereotype of a close Lions-Irish battle into a rout.Despite three Irish penalties, the defense anchored by goalie Stewart Crosland and sophomore defenseman D.J. Driscoll held the Nittany Lions to just two goals in the half.The first half saw the Irish get on the board first with a goal from sophomore midfielder Brian Hubschmann (two goals, four assists). The teams then traded goals throughout the half.Junior midfielder Will Jones led the Nittany Lions attack, scoring his first goal of the game to make the score 2-1 at the 7:10 mark of the first quarter. He finished with three goals and one assist.Following a Charlie Perry goal for Penn State at the 6:38 mark of the second quarter, however, the Irish closed the first half with three straight goals. Berger scored off one of Howell’s three assists, and the Irish got two goals before the half, out of timeouts that Corrigan called to set up plays in the offensive zone.Hubschmann tallied his second goal 16 seconds after a timeout called with 1:56 remaining, and Berger scored his second of the day at the 1:03 mark.While Corrigan’s effective usage of timeouts helped set up a 7-5 halftime lead and laid the groundwork for a blowup second half, the coach refuses to take the credit.”Our guys came out with great poise in those situations,” Corrigan said. “When you get playmakers in a comfortable situation, they react. We take advantage when we get a man up.”Junior midfielder Brian Giordano also scored two goals and had two assists, while senior midfielder Nick Petcoff added an assist.