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Men’s Lacrosse: UNC hands squad first loss

Griffin Dassatti | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Notre Dame lost for the first time this season 8-6 to North Carolina Saturday in Chapel Hill.

The Irish (4-1), ranked No. 7 in the most recent Nike/Inside Lacrosse Poll, lost despite out-shooting the Tar Heels 41-29. Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said his team was done in by a combination of an outstanding performance by UNC goalie Grant Zimmerman and a general lack of execution by the Irish.

“It wasn’t them, it was us,” Corrigan said. “We had the first five shots of the game, and their goalie had four saves before they even had the ball at the offensive end of the field. We controlled the ball for the large part of the game, we just gave up some goals we didn’t need to give up and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”

Junior midfielder Ben Hunt scored the Tar Heels’ first goal with 5:45 left in the first period. The score was Hunt’s first of five and began a run of five unanswered Tar Heels goals that lasted until the second half.

Corrigan said he did not berate his team at halftime because it knew its situation.

“I think our guys felt like [we] weren’t dominating play,” he said. “[The Tar Heels] were dominating the scoreboard but they weren’t dominating play. It wasn’t anything I felt like I had to say or do. We were disappointed in the poise we showed offensively but we knew that we were right in the game. We just had to start cashing it on opportunities.”

The Irish responded to their collective disappointment by going on a tear of their own. Senior midfielder Michael Podgajny scored Notre Dame’s first goal just over three minutes into the second half. Podgajny quickly followed up the first of his two goals with an assist to junior midfielder Peter Christman just over a minute later.

When senior attack Alex Wharton capped a 4-1 Irish run with 4:24 left in the third quarter, the score was 6-4 in favor of North Carolina. Despite the run, the Irish could not overcome Zimmerman’s spectacular play in a game where the keeper set a career high with 18 saves.

While Corrigan was disappointed at the first loss of the season, he said the Irish still know what they have to do to be successful in Saturday’s game against Dartmouth and beyond.

“It’s just part of the continuum of the season. What we take from [this loss] is nothing different from what we’ve been talking about,” Corrigan said. “We know that when you play good teams you can’t give goals away. We created opportunities for ourselves; we just didn’t make them count. I don’t think we learned anything new we just confirmed some things we already knew.”