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Men’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame takes down Duke in title game rematch

Megan Golden | Monday, February 21, 2011

In a rematch of last season’s national championship game, the No. 6 Irish dominated No. 5 Duke for a 12-7 victory in their season opener at the inaugural Sunshine Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., as the Notre Dame offense came to life in a big way in the fourth quarter.

In the first quarter sophomore goalie John Kemp made four saves, and Duke goalie Dan Wigrizer also recorded four saves. Both offenses, though, came on in the second quarter.

The Irish quickly trailed 2-0 in the second quarter, but thanks to two first half goals by junior attack Sean Rogers, Notre Dame carried a 4-2 lead into the second half.

Irish senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Brenneman led the team with three goals and two assists for a career-high five points, but he was quick to credit his teammates for their performance.

“I really benefited from a long day of good things all day,” Brenneman said. “There were a lot of other people doing good things.”

Notre Dame led 7-4 heading into the final quarter, during which they netted five goals to finish the victory. The Irish totaled 38 shots, while the Blue Devils had 32 shots in the game. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan was pleased with the team’s overall performance.

“I thought we did a really great job in the first quarter of battling until it really opened up,” he said. “I thought we did really well the whole day.”

Stepping into the shoes of graduated goalkeeper Scott Rodgers, who now plays professional lacrosse, Irish goalie John Kemp stepped up for Notre Dame and gathered 10 saves in the victory. Brenneman pointed out the spectacular performance by the Irish defense against a lively Duke offense.

“I am especially proud of the defense and goalie John Kemp,” he said. “For them to stop a team like this that scored 20 goals a week before, that was huge. They stepped up.”

The Irish defense took advantage of the Blue Devil’s 15 turnovers in the game.

“We tried to manufacture good possessions because whoever has the ball the most, that’s a good thing for them,” Brenneman said.

The Irish worked hard in practice last week to win faceoffs and to extend their offensive possessions. Corrigan praised the work of Irish assistant coach Brian Fisher who worked with the attack unit in practice. Against the Blue Devils, Notre Dame had the advantage 13-9 in faceoffs,

“Coach Fisher worked really hard with two great kids, [senior midfielder] Jake Marmul and [freshman midfielder] Liam O’Connor.” Corrigan said. “[Fisher] truly does a great job working with them.”

The Irish return to action at Penn State next Sunday at 1 p.m.