Men’s Lacrosse: Squad loses two of three over break, look to earn coach 200th win
Allan Joseph | Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Big crowds, overtime thrillers, player honors and warm weather — Notre Dame experienced all of the above over its Spring Break trip.
The Irish (3-2) dropped two of three on the trip, however, and look to avoid dropping to .500 on the season. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan has a chance to notch his 200th win at Notre Dame when the Irish host Denver tonight in their first regular-season game in brand-new Arlotta Stadium.
Notre Dame’s Spring Break trip began with a trip to Baltimore to play in the third game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Ravens.
Notre Dame defeated No. 10 Loyola, 11-9, before 19,742 fans to give the Irish their third consecutive victory to open the season. Junior midfielders Zach Brenneman and David Earl paced Notre Dame with three goals each, while senior attack Neal Hicks deposited two goals and an assist. Earl also had an assist in a career day.
The Greyhounds led 3-2 at the end of the first quarter before the Irish put forth a 3-0 second quarter. The Notre Dame lead did not last long, however, as Loyola scored three times in the first five minutes of the second half. The rest of the game was back-and-forth until the Irish went up for good with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest on Earl’s third goal. The performances of Earl and Brenneman earned both recognition; Brenneman was selected to Inside Lacrosse’s team of the week, while Earl was named to the Big East honor roll.
“We actually made a lot of plays, but we didn’t really play that well,” Corrigan said. “We got a great win over a very good team.”
After Notre Dame’s 20th straight regular season win, the then-No.3 Irish traveled to Philadelphia to take on then-No. 20 Drexel. In a tense overtime contest, the Dragons prevailed 7-6 despite being out-shot 42-30 by Notre Dame. The Dragons took the lead 16 seconds after the opening faceoff, but the Irish set the tone for a tight contest by answering four minutes later. The game was tied 4-4 at halftime and a Drexel goal with just over two minutes remaining sent the contest to overtime. The Dragons scored with just 22 seconds remaining in the first overtime, ending the game and handing Notre Dame its first loss of the season. The Irish dominance on the stat sheet was of little consolation.
“It’s not about statistics, it’s about finding ways to win,” Corrigan said. “We didn’t make the adjustments we needed to make when playing a hot goalie.”
Sophomore midfielder Max Pfeifer led Notre Dame with a career-best four goals. Senior midfielder Grant Krebs added one more, as did Earl. Hicks assisted on two goals, extending his point streak to 21 games, a run that leads the Irish.
During the trip, three Irish seniors — Krebs, defenseman Sam Barnes and goalkeeper Scott Rodgers — were named to the watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the best collegiate lacrosse players.
After the tight loss at Drexel, the Irish had three days to travel to Houston to face Fairfield in the first NCAA Division I game in that city in four decades. Though the weather was warm, Notre Dame’s winning ways were cold, and the Irish dropped their second game in a row for the first time in just over two years by the score of 10-8. Notre Dame did itself no favors by allowing the Stags to jump out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. The Irish scored twice in the second quarter but allowed another three goals to face a 7-2 deficit at halftime.
Hicks tallied two goals to open the third quarter, but Fairfield responded with two of its own to take a five-goal lead into the final period. Notre Dame, however, cut the lead to two with nine minutes left behind a goal from Earl and two from Krebs, but fell short as each team scored once in the final minute of the game. The Irish lost another 20-game streak when Fairfield was the first team in 21 contests to score at least 10 goals against Notre Dame.
The Irish again dominated the stat sheet but not the scoring line, taking 42 shots to the Stags’ 23 and winning 14 of 20 face offs in the game. Hicks’ hat trick led the Irish offensively while Krebs and Earl each had three-point performances. The two losses revealed some weaknesses, especially on the offensive end.
“We’re in too much of a hurry and not selective enough. We’ve got to be consistent,” Corrigan said. “Defense is a matter of minor adjustments.”
Those adjustments were installed on Monday during the team’s first practice in brand-new Arlotta Stadium on Monday in preparation for the team’s clash with Denver (3-3) Wednesday. Notre Dame will have to convert more of its shots in order to win as well as find better team communication on offense. The Pioneers are coached by Bill Tierney, who won six national championships at Princeton.
“They have a lot of very creative offensive guys and they’re very well coached,” Corrigan said. “They play solid defense and are all-around a very good team.”
Notre Dame has also slipped from No. 3 to No. 13 in the national rankings, providing one more motivator for the Irish.
The Notre Dame squad is also excited to play its first meaningful game in Arlotta Stadium, especially considering the relatively warm conditions, Corrigan said.
“It’s a beautiful venue,” Corrigan said. “I hope we get a lot of people out because it’s a great place to watch a game.”
The Irish look to snap their two-game losing streak and begin climbing up the rankings again when they face Denver this afternoon at 4 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.