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Men’s Lacrosse: Scioscia powers Irish to win

Greg Hadley | Monday, April 22, 2013

With first place in the Big East on the line, No. 2 Notre Dame found itself locked in a tight back-and-forth battle with red-hot Villanova. But Irish junior attack John Scioscia then exploded for three fourth-quarter goals as Notre Dame pulled away with a 13-9 victory Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

With the win, the Irish (10-2, 4-1 Big East) clinched a spot in the Big East tournament and pulled into a first-place tie in the conference standings with the Wildcats and Syracuse. 

“At times [our defense] was really good and at times we lost some guys,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They’re a hard team to play against and they play a really interesting style. We’re probably going to play this team again in the next two weeks [in the postseason], so I hoped we learned some stuff, because we may need it in a week or two.”

Scioscia ended the day with four goals, all in the second half, and an assist. Corrigan said he was especially impressed with his quick release.

“An underappreciated skill in the game is catching the ball, and John catches almost everything you throw in his direction and he turns it into a shot on cage,” Corrigan said. “That’s a really tough thing to do, and a really good attribute. So he was moving without the ball, finding spots, and our guys were finding him.”

Playing before a raucous, sold-out crowd, the Irish quickly fell behind 2-0 in the first quarter, unable to keep up with fast-paced tempo of the No. 19 Wildcats (5-7, 4-1). However, Notre Dame battled back in the second quarter and tied the game at two on goals by freshman attack Matt Kavanagh and sophomore midfielder Jack Near. The Irish then gained a 4-3 lead in the last 10 seconds before intermission, despite losing the faceoff and ground ball battles.

After halftime, the Wildcats dominated play and scored three unanswered goals in less than three minutes to take a 6-4 lead. But the Irish defense stiffened and shut down Villanova freshman midfielder John Kluh, the squad’s points leader entering Saturday. The Irish defensive effort allowed for the offense to slowly rally on goals by Scioscia and fellow junior attack Westy Hopkins. 

The Irish stormed out in the fourth quarter with three straight goals in less than a minute, including a lightning-quick strike by sophomore midfielder Nick Ossello, who won the faceoff and, uncontested, scored in six seconds. As Villanova tried to rally, the Irish benefited from an own goal when sophomore midfielder Will Corrigan’s pass was deflected by a Villanova defender’s stick into the net. Corrigan was credited with the goal, and he added another with a minute to go as part of a three-goal burst by Notre Dame that sealed the victory.

Corrigan credited his players for hanging tough with Villanova’s tough aggressive style of play and continuing to fight for every groundball.

“I thought the thing that got us going was the big ground-ball game by [junior midfielder] Jim Marlatt and [junior defenseman] Steve O’Hara that turned into fast breaks,” Corrigan said. “It really juiced our guys up because it’s something we’ve been working on, to make plays like that. I thought that when we started to get the better of the ground-ball play it allowed us get possession of the ball. We just didn’t have possession of the ball all first half.”

Looking ahead, the Irish will wrap up the regular season against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic on Sunday. Notre Dame will then begin postseason play in the Big East tournament at Villanova on May 2.

Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu