Irish rally, top No. 2 North Carolina
Kit Loughran | Monday, March 3, 2014
The Irish did not fail to make their first ACC game unforgettable.
No. 11 Notre Dame (2-1, 1-0) beat No. 2 North Carolina (3-1, 0-1) with an 11-10 comeback-victory Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Irish trailed 8-3 early in the third quarter, but they managed five unanswered goals to tie the game by the first minute of the final period.
Heading into the second half, the Irish were able to maintain their composure, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said.
“The biggest thing we talked about [at halftime] was not to panic,” he said. “We wanted to stay the course, because I thought we played well in first half. We were doing a lot of great things but weren’t having much luck. Our quality of play was good, so our focus was to stay the course.”
Irish sophomore attackman Matt Kavanaugh initiated the comeback in the third quarter with his second goal of the game. Four minutes later, Irish senior midfielder Tyler Brenneman scored his first goal of the season to bring the score to 8-5.
Following three penalties against North Carolina late in the third quarter, Notre Dame scored a pair of goals within a minute playing two-men up. Irish freshman midfielder Sergio Perkovic and senior midfielder Jim Martlatt delivered the goals, and Kavanaugh completed his hat trick in the early seconds of the final quarter to tie the game 8-8.
“We were able to get Matt the ball in space, and he’s very hard to guard in those situations,” Corrigan said. “Our defense was creating transition opportunities for him, and they did a good job of pushing the ball down and creating some support and space for the attack.”
North Carolina junior attackman Jimmy Bitter responded for the Tar Heels, but Irish junior attackman Conor Doyle responded with a low-angle shot to make it 9-9 with 11:04 remaining. Irish junior midfielder Jack Near brought the Irish their first lead of the day with his goal with a little over six minutes left on the clock. Two minutes later, Perkovic carried the Irish to 11 goals with a man-up score. The Tar Heels responded with a goal 23 seconds later, but the Irish hung on to claim the 11-10 victory.
With a thrilling victory to open up their conference play, the Irish are excited to move forward with their ACC games, Corrigan said.
“It’s nice to have our first win [in the ACC],” Corrigan said. “This game shows we are in a heck of a conference. It’s going to be a dog fight every game, but it’s awfully fun to play in.”
Notre Dame outshot North Carolina 39-29 and went 4-for-7 on its man-up opportunities. As the Irish move on to play Denver next weekend, Corrigan said he looks for the team to continue this trend in its performance.
“I hope we can do what we did after last week’s game [against Penn State] and learn from our mistakes,” Corrigan said. “We are getting much better on 6-on-6 plays, and I love how we are generating offense from different scenarios, so I want us to keep doing that.”
The Irish prepare to face non-conference opponent Denver in the Pacific Coast Shootout on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Orange Coast College’s LeBard Stadium in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Contact Kit Loughran at email@example.com