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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish fall to Big East foe Villanova

Allan Joseph | Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Coming off a close home loss to Rutgers in the program’s first-ever Big East contest, No. 15 Notre Dame was left still searching for its first conference win after a heartbreaking 9-8 loss at No. 13 Villanova on Saturday.

The game was low scoring through the first three quarters before a furious fourth quarter in which the outcome was in doubt until the final whistle sounded.

The Irish (5-4, 0-2) got on the board first with a goal two minutes into the first quarter at Villanova Stadium on a tally from senior midfielder Grant Krebs, but the Wildcats (6-3, 1-1) responded with a goal nine minutes later, and added a second five seconds before the end of the period.

Villanova piled on two more scores in the first three minutes of the second quarter to take a 4-1 lead, its largest of the game. The Irish scored just once in the second quarter and headed into the intermission trailing 4-2.

The defensive character of the game continued after halftime, with nearly 10 scoreless minutes passing before freshman midfielder Steve Murphy cut the Villanova lead to just one. The Wildcats responded quickly, however, and took a 5-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

Despite the dominance of both defenses in the first three quarters, the offenses would steal the show in the final period and provide a thrilling end to the game. Notre Dame reeled off five consecutive goals to open the fourth quarter, including a highlight-reel score from senior defenseman Mike Creighton, who intercepted a pass when the Irish were a man down and took the ball the length of the field to score.

At the end of the Notre Dame run, the Irish held an 8-5 lead halfway through the final period, but Villanova had an offensive explosion of its own in store. The Wildcats scored just 14 seconds after the Irish took their biggest lead and then added another 30 seconds later to cut the Notre Dame advantage to one. Villanova’s Paul Webber then scored with 5:07 left to tie the game and then added the decisive goal with 2:10 to play. Though the Irish peppered the Wildcats goal with shots in the final seconds, goalie Billy Hurley turned them away to seal the Villanova victory.

Though Irish coach Kevin Corrigan was pleased with his team’s overall play, he was concerned about the lack of playmaking.

“We actually played better against Villanova. You know, we just didn’t make enough plays,” Corrigan said. “It’s been an interesting year — we’ve been so close in all of our losses, but the combination of playing well and making plays is something we have to do.”

Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman led the Irish with two goals and two assists, while senior attack Neal Hicks notched a goal and three assists. Freshman goalkeeper John Kemp made his first career start in the loss and made 10 saves.

“I think [Kemp] played very well. We didn’t play as well I’d hope in front of him,” Corrigan said. “I have great confidence in John, and I know we’re going to win a lot of lacrosse games with him in the goal.”

Going into the homestretch of the season, Corrigan hopes his team will find the consistency in avoiding errors it has been searching for throughout the campaign.

“It’s as simple as this: We’ve got to stop giving away goals at the defensive end and wasting opportunities on the offensive end,” Corrigan said. “We’ve got to play smarter consistently.”

The Irish look to snap their two-game losing streak and find their first Big East victory when Georgetown visits Arlotta Stadium on Sunday in a clash televised on ESPNU.