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Men’s Lacrosse: Senior hat trick leads Irish over Penn State

Allan Joseph | Monday, March 1, 2010

The Irish struggled at times against an inferior Penn State squad but were able to come away with a 12-8 win Sunday in their home opener.

“We competed well as a team,” he said. “[However,] we made the day tougher on ourselves than it needed to be.”

No. 3 Notre Dame (2-0) got on the board first when sophomore attack Sean Rogers beat the Nittany Lions (0-2) goalie two minutes into the game, notching his first career goal.

Senior attack Grant Krebs and sophomore attack Nicholas Beattie added two more goals in quick succession, giving the Irish a three-goal advantage just five minutes into the opening period. Penn State tallied its first goal seven minutes later before senior attack Neal Hicks scored the first of his three goals just before the end of the first quarter.

Hicks, who leads the Fighting Irish with five goals this season, added another goal early in the second period to stretch the Notre Dame advantage to 5-1, which was answered by a Penn State score. The Irish then reeled off three more scores (two from Krebs and one from sophomore midfielder Grant Pfeifer) to take an 8-2 lead. Each team would add one more before the end of the half — including a goal with three seconds remaining by junior midfielder Zach Brenneman. Notre Dame led 9-3 at intermission.

The Nittany Lions scored the first goal of the second half at the midpoint of the third quarter, which Beattie answered four minutes later. Penn State scored once more before the end of the period to bring the team within five goals.

Hicks completed his hat trick less than a minute into the fourth quarter before the Nittany Lions threatened to make it a game by scoring three goals in quick succession. However, with the Penn State goalie pulled, senior attack Colin Igoe closed the scoring with a goal near the end of the game.

Krebs’ and Hicks’ three-goal performances led the Fighting Irish, and Krebs added one assist to give him a game-best four points. Despite the victory, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan saw much to improve in his team’s play for much of the game, especially on the defensive end.

“We played too much defense. We did a terrible job clearing the ball,” he said. “We were erratic in most phases of the game.”

Corrigan said he was pleased with the fact that Notre Dame was able to get stops at the end of the game when Penn State was threatening but felt that the team wasted possessions and did not value the ball enough. He views the win as a learning experience in the process of discovering the team’s identity and what they must do to win games and hopes that his players took a step in that direction. Though he saw much to improve, he said he did see one thing he liked.

The Irish look to continue their winning ways with a three-game road trip over Spring Break to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston to face Loyola (Md.), Drexel and Fairfield.