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Men’s Lacrosse: Team extends streak to 4-0

Joseph Monardo | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Playing without Preseason All-American midfielder Zach Brenneman for the second straight game, third-ranked Notre Dame continued its scorching start with a 10-9 victory over No. 16 Denver in a back-and-forth thriller.

In the game last Saturday, the Irish (4-0) survived Denver’s fourth-quarter comeback attempt to earn their fourth victory over a ranked opponent in as many games.

Against Denver (3-2), Irish sophomore goalie John Kemp was tested early and often, as the Pioneers netted the first two goals of the game and claimed an early lead. Sophomore attackman Ryan Foley first put the Irish on the board with a goal nearly six minutes into the quarter, his first of three on the night. The teams traded goals for the remainder of the half, and the Irish took a 6-5 lead into the break.

“It was a very back and forth game,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “It was a very well-played game on both team’s part. I did not think we played great, but we played really hard and with a lot of poise given the situation, and thankfully, we made enough plays to win.”

One of the most important Irish plays of the day came with the score tied at 7-7 midway through the third quarter, when junior attackman Nicholas Beattie scored a man-up goal which turned out to be a spark for the visiting team. Though Denver was back at full strength, freshman attackman Westy Hopkins and senior attackman Colin Igoe each added a goal of their own, pushing the Irish lead to 10-7 heading into the final quarter. Despite two late goals by the Pioneers, the Irish hung on for the win.

In a game that was anything but comfortable for the Irish, Foley said the players gained confidence from the way they were able to pull out the tough victory.

“I guess it’s good to know that we can find different ways to win when we’re not really clicking offensively,” Foley said. “Our defense stepped up late again, as usual, but we didn’t really have a lot of success towards the end of the game in settled offense, we just kind of made big plays at the right times. It was good to know that guys are going to step up and make plays when we needed them, when we weren’t really feeling a rhythm offensively.”

A number of Irish players recorded highlight-worthy stats in the game against Denver. Kemp turned in another fantastic performance, racking up 13 saves, and senior attackman Sean Rogers recorded two assists to go along with his pair of goals. Kemp’s solid play earned him a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll alongside Foley, who now has five goals on the season after scoring just once in his freshman campaign.

Despite their undefeated start and the many individual highlights, Foley said the Irish are being careful to ensure that they do not experience a slip-up similar to last season’s, when they followed up a 3-0 start with losses in their next two games and five of their next seven.

“We’re feeling good about how we started,” Foley said, “but at the same time we were kind of at this exact spot last year and then we went into a kind of losing streak, so we are just focusing on getting better each week and putting each game in the past after a win … and trying not to repeat the trend that started last year after this start.”

If the Irish are able to avoid this potential pitfall, their impressive performances on both offense and defense could signal the makings of a remarkable season.

“I think we are still really confident on offense or defense,” Foley said, “Going forward, we felt that everything we were doing was working, we just weren’t capitalizing on a lot of shots … Obviously, there is always room for improvement, so we are just focusing on that right now.”