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Men’s Lacrosse: Making history

Joe Meixell | Monday, April 16, 2007

The Irish beat league rivals Air Force 16-4 Friday and Denver 14-6 Sunday to set the school record of consecutive home victories at 12.

Notre Dame claimed both victories in similar fashion with major second half surges. The Irish were electric after halftime, outscoring the Falcons and the Pioneers by a combined total of 21-4.

“[The wins] are great,” Irish senior midfielder Lucius Polk said. “It was a little payback from the road trip last year.”

Notre Dame (8-3, 3-0 Great Western Lacrosse League) used hat tricks from junior midfielder Michael Podgajny, senior attack Brian Hubschmann, and junior attack Alex Wharton to decimate Air Force (2-7, 1-2). Freshman attack Will Yeatman added two goals and two assists while sophomore attack Ryan Hoff netted two tallies.

Polk also had three helpers. Junior goaltender Joey Kemp manned the defensive end by making 12 saves and giving up only four goals in over 50 minutes of play.

Air Force was led by senior midfielder Justin Kuchta, who had one goal and an assist. Senior attack Conrad Lochocki added a score and an assist. Sophomore goaltender Dan Gnazzo picked up the loss with 13 stops, allowing 10 goals in 44 minutes of work.

The game against Denver started out on a bit of a different note. The Pioneers (7-6, 2-1) started the game red hot as they jumped to an early 3-1 advantage. Notre Dame tied up the game 3-3 in the second quarter before Denver added two more goals to take a 5-3 lead.

The Irish, however, would not be denied their fifth win in a row this season. Notre Dame closed the first half with two quick goals en route to an 11-1 run to finish the game.

“Our scoring has been spread out, not done by just one guy,” Kemp said. “Our defense also held their own. You have a good chance to win if you only give up four, five or six goals.”

The Irish were led by Hoff and Polk, who netted four goals each. Podgajny added two goals and an assist while Wharton scored twice.

“I got the opportunities to score,” Polk said. “It was a product of the environment. The way [Denver’s] defense played forced me to the goal.”

Hubschmann had another solid performance with one goal and four assists. Yeatman also aided with three helpers.

Kemp was credited with the win in goal as he made 11 saves in a complete 60 minutes of work.

“I played OK in goal,” Kemp said. “I was slow in the first half against Denver, but I had a stronger game against Air Force.”

The Pioneers were led by sophomore midfielder Joey Murray, who scored twice and added an assist. Freshman midfielder Ilija Gajic added two goals, while freshman midfielder Charley Dickenson had one goal and two assists. Senior goalie Jeb Hollingsworth picked up the loss in a complete game. He gave up 14 goals and made 12 stops.

The two wins place the Irish at 3-0 in the Great Western Lacrosse League, a position they have not been in since 2002.

“Now we just have to defeat Quinnipiac and Ohio State,” Kemp said. “We have a better standing in the GWLL.”

Notre Dame takes on non-conference foe, Lehigh Saturday at Moose Krause Stadium. The Irish will then travel to Ohio State and Quinnipiac following the Lehigh game to close out the season.

“We are looking for an automatic qualifier for the [NCAA] tournament, but hopefully, by the end of the season, we won’t even need it,” Polk said.

Notes:

u Notre Dame held the edge in shots and face-offs for both games. The Irish ousted the Falcons 50-23 on attempts on goal while besting the Pioneers 36-28 on the draw. The Irish claimed 18-of-23 face-offs against Air Force and 13-of-24 against Denver.

u Yeatman leads the Irish in scoring with 36 points on 18 goals and 18 assists this season. Hoff has netted a team-high 28 goals.