Men’s Lacrosse: Irish beat Rutgers, continue win streak
Mike Monaco | Monday, March 26, 2012
In their Big East Conference opener, the No. 6 Irish beat Rutgers 12-9 at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday to win their fifth-consecutive game.
Notre Dame (6-1, 1-0) exploded for five first-quarter goals from five different players and got out to an early lead against the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 0-2). Sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt scored an unassisted goal less than 90 seconds into the game and the Irish didn’t look back as they concluded the first quarter leading 5-1. Senior attack Sean Rogers said the key to the quick start was simply executing the game plan.
“We had a general idea of what we wanted to do coming in and what plays we wanted to execute against [Rutgers],” Rogers said. “Our offense did a great job running those to completion at the start of the game and we were able to finish all our opportunities.”
The Scarlet Knights came out aggressively in the second quarter and fired 11 shots after only recording six in the first frame. Senior midfielder Will Mangan and sophomore attack Nicholas DePaolera led the charge with two goals each and helped Rutgers cut the lead to 7-5. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said Rutgers’ second-quarter resurgence was a result of poor defense, especially against picks.
“Our pick play is very frustrating right now and we don’t think it’s very complicated, but we’re not executing and that’s getting us in trouble,” Corrigan said. “We’re struggling in some other areas too on defense that we should be better at and we’re not.”
The third quarter consisted of more back-and-forth action, as the Irish couldn’t break away from the Scarlet Knights. Rogers scored the second of his four goals – all of which came in the second half – with 3:33 to go in the quarter to give Notre Dame a two-goal lead. That lead was short-lived, though, as DePaolera came from the behind the Irish cage with just 16 seconds to go and scored to cut the Notre Dame lead to one.
The Irish pulled away at the start of the fourth quarter, as Marlatt and Rogers each scored in the first three minutes of the period to give Notre Dame some breathing room.
“We just knew we had to win the [fourth] quarter,” Rogers said. “With our defense, we knew if we could put some goals on the board it would be harder for [Rutgers]. We had a couple good bounces and we were able to finish our chances.”
Notre Dame dominated the ground ball battle 38-19 and repeatedly came up with loose balls in the offensive zone, giving the offense more chances. Rogers, who led the Irish with four points against Rutgers for the second consecutive year, converted two of those opportunities into goals in the fourth quarter.
“It was good to get the better of the ground ball play in the second half,” Corrigan said. “I thought that was a very important part of the game, because we made some plays out of those ground balls that ended up being big.”
Notre Dame had to fight off two penalties in the final frame, but junior goalie John Kemp and the rest of the Irish defense were up to the task. Kemp recorded seven saves and helped the Irish hold on for the win.
Corrigan said he is always satisfied with a win and is pleased to be 6-1, but he knows the Irish didn’t play as well as they could have.
“I’m a little torn on this one,” Corrigan said. “It’s always good to get a win – and for us to go through a week and get three wins in eight days is really good so I don’t want to be too down on our guys but I’m very disappointed in the consistency of our play today. At this point in the year, we should be better in some areas where we’re not. I’m glad we’ll have a chance this week to go back and address those things we know we can do but we’re just not doing every time … We’re thrilled to be 6-1 and in a position now with a little time this week to focus on getting better.”
The Irish are back in action Sunday at 1 p.m. when they travel to East Rutherford, N.J., to take on St. John’s in the Big City Classic.
Contact Mike Monaco at email@example.com