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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish capture road victory

Megan Golden | Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three days after a triple-overtime victory over Denver, No. 6 Notre Dame extended its winning streak to four games with an 8-7 win at Ohio State on Wednesday.

After opening the season with three consecutive wins, the Buckeyes (3-5) have now lost five straight.

The fatigued Irish (5-1) never found an offensive rhythm Wednesday, relying primarily on the defense for their fifth win.

“This was a really good win because we just gutted this one out,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We were a little bit tired physically and mentally, and Ohio State played very well. We gutted this one out and found a way to win.”

Less than five minutes into play, Irish freshman attack Conor Doyle scored his third goal of the season to put Notre Dame on the board.

The Buckeyes responded midway through the first quarter, tying the game. Both teams went on to exchange goals in the final minutes of the quarter.

Irish senior attack Sean Rogers put the Irish ahead late in the second quarter with his team-leading eighth goal of the season to send Notre Dame into halftime with a 3-2 lead.

Notre Dame started the second half aggressively as senior midfielder and co-captain Max Pfeifer netted two goals in the third quarter. Ohio State answered with two goals, but it could not keep up as Irish junior midfielder Pat Cotter gave the Irish a 6-4 lead with just over one minute remaining in the quarter.

Notre Dame extended its lead to 7-4 to open the fourth quarter. Ohio State scored back-to-back goals to cut the Irish lead down to 7-6, but its rally fell short. With 2:15 remaining, Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Liam O’Connor scored after a face-off win to ensure the Irish victory.

A final Ohio State goal with 19 seconds remaining in the game was not enough to complete the Buckeye comeback, and the Irish escaped with an 8-7 win in Columbus.

“It was a hard-fought [game]. Literally, until a few seconds left in the game, Ohio State did a great job coming back down the stretch, and they definitely made it difficult for us,” Rogers said. “It was a quick turnaround from the weekend, but I’m glad we just played hard for the whole game to get the win.”

Cotter’s goal marked his first of the season, while goals from O’Connor, junior defenseman Tyler Andersen and sophomore midfielder Tyler Brenneman were the first of their careers.

Corrigan said several players stepped up against the Buckeyes, helping the Irish keep their winning streak alive.

“I think [we figured out that] there are a lot of ways to win,” he said. “We got a goal from a long-stick, a goal from a face-off man [and] three midfielders contributed. It wasn’t our best day, but we found a way to win, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”

Notre Dame junior goaltender John Kemp recorded 17 saves. The Irish converted eight of 21 shot attempts, while collecting just seven of 19 face-offs.

Corrigan said Notre Dame’s defense deserves credit for keeping control of the game, despite an Irish squad that could not find a rhythm offensively.

“Great play by the defense and our goalie John Kemp, who were forced to play good defense because we didn’t have a good day offensively and we didn’t get ground balls,” he said.

Corrigan said the Irish will take today off in order to rest before they face Rutgers this weekend.

Preparation will consist of watching film and studying the Scarlet Knights’ system.

“We need to go back and basically mentally fix stuff and work through the mistakes we’ve made the last few weekends,” Rogers said.

The Irish return to action Sunday, when they play host to Rutgers at Arlotta Stadium at 1 p.m.

Contact Megan Golden at mgolde01@saintmarys.edu