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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish rally, stun Red Storm

Megan Golden | Monday, April 18, 2011

Fans were on the edge of their seats Saturday as the No. 2 Irish fought back from a three-point deficit to seal a 10-7 victory over Big East foe St. John’s on senior day.

Irish senior long-stick midfielder Andrew Irving opened the match with a goal to put the Irish (9-0, 4-0 Big East) up 1-0. Just three minutes later, the Red Storm (4-7, 2-2) responded and exchanged a pair of goals with the Irish, as Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead into the second quarter.

The Irish have outscored their opponents in the second quarter this season, but they could not catch a break during those 15 minutes Saturday. Red Storm freshman attack Colin Keegan recorded two goals in the quarter, completing a hat trick in just the first half and leading St. John’s to a 4-0 advantage in the second quarter.

“We were awful in the first half,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They played really well. They played inspired, very smart and good with the ball. They made us pay for our mistakes, and they kept the ball away from us, [which] kept us from making any plays to get any momentum. Great first half by them, lousy by us.”

Heavy rain and even snow caused the Irish to slip on the turf in a few key situations and the ball could not find its way into their sticks, as they had trouble maintaining solid possessions throughout the second quarter.

Corrigan took advantage of halftime to let the team thaw out and slow down its game.

“I just said, ‘We need goals, we haven’t been scoring. We’ve got time to make the plays we need to make, and we have to be aggressive about making them,'” Corrigan said.

Irish sophomore attack Ryan Foley fired back less than two minutes into the second half and three different Irish players followed with goals in the quarter. Senior midfielder David Earl scored in the clutch, as the Irish were a man-up when his first goal went in the net, giving the Irish a 7-6 lead.

“We wanted to come out in a 10-man ride, but we ended up not having to do it because we jumped out in the first couple possessions and scored. So we didn’t do it, but I think we got into a more aggressive mentality, and it allowed us to make some plays,” Corrigan said.

St. John’s was not done fighting, and Keegan added his fourth goal of the day to keep the Red Storm in the game.

“[Keegan] was a good inside guy. I think he had a couple [scores] right on the doorstep and one a man-up,” senior defenseman Kevin Ridgway said. “It was hard to try and find where he was all night.”

The resilient Irish fans that remained through the first 45 minutes were up on their feet for the majority of the fourth quarter, as the Irish looked to break a 7-7 tie. Earl stepped up again, adding two goals in the final quarter, and sophomore midfielder Steve Murphy also pitched in a goal to cap off a 10-7 Irish victory.

The Irish collected more shots on goal in the second half, shooting 25 compared to St. John’s 13. Seven players scored for the Irish, including two goals from senior midfielder Zach Brenneman and a hat trick from Earl.

“I thought I played well,” Earl said. “Luckily, today I got a lot of good opportunities to score, and I was able to put a few of those away. A lot of guys have been scoring for us this year. I think we have 10 or 13 guys who have put up numbers for us, so it makes it hard for other teams to play against us on defense.”

Corrigan said he is excited for his 15 seniors who have contributed to a memorable four years at Notre Dame.

“[They are] a terrific group of kids,” he said. “I mean, ‘what can you say about a group?’ They’ve had a pretty good run here the last four years, but I hope they’re not done yet.

There’s still a lot of lacrosse left to play, and we found out tonight there’s nobody out there that can’t beat you if you don’t come to play.”

No. 1 Syracuse lost earlier in the week, which means that the Irish will undoubtedly take over the number one ranking with a 9-0 record.

“It’s a wonderful thing for these guys,” Corrigan said. “It doesn’t change anything about what we’re going to do on Monday, but it’s a wonderful thing for our guys. “I’m proud of them. It’s a great accomplishment to be the last undefeated team left in the country. I’m excited for them, but we’ve got to get back to work on Monday because this was not a great performance by us.”

The Irish return to action Wednesday against Providence at noon.