Irish looks to rebound against Blue Devils
Observer Staff Report | Friday, April 4, 2014
The win-loss column does not tell the whole story for No. 8 Notre Dame.With just five games left in the regular season, the Irish sit at 4-3 and 2-1 in the ACC, good for third place in the conference.
Yet, all three of Notre Dame’s losses this season have been to teams ranked in the top 15, and twice the Irish lost by one-goal margins. All told, the Irish have played five ranked teams
The stretch ahead does not get any easier for the Irish, as they play No. 3 Duke at home Saturday.
The Blue Devils (9-2, 2-1 ACC), the defending national champions, are riding a five-game win streak after dropping two matchups to Maryland and Loyola in early March on a road trip through the Old Line State.
The Blue Devils boast the nation’s fourth-ranked offense, which averages 13.82 points per game. Leading the way is senior attackman Jordan Wolf, who averages 3 goals per game, good for eighth in the country and ahead of Notre Dame’s top scorer, sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh, who puts away 2.86 goals per game, 15th in the NCAA.
Notre Dame features a balanced squad that ranks in the top-20 in both scoring offense and defense, and 11th in scoring margin. Senior midfielder and face-ff specialist Liam O’Connor, who started the season on a hot streak and led the nation in face-off percentage, has slowed recently, falling to seventh in the country with a 63.6 win percentage.
The Irish are coming off a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to No. 7 Syracuse on Saturday in the Carrier Dome, after a furious rally with less than 14 minutes remaining brought Notre Dame back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game. The Orange responded with one final goal with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
The loss to the Orange snapped a two-game winning game streak for the Irish, which included their first home win of the season against No. 7 Virginia, 18-9. That game, however, was played indoors in the Loftus Sports Center due to inclement weather. The Irish played in Arlotta Stadium against No. 12 Penn State and had to deal with a mid-game snowstorm that slowed play.
The forecast for Saturday calls for game-time temperatures in the high 40s under partly sunny skies.
The Irish take on the Blue Devils midway through the regular season Saturday in Arlotta Stadium. Game time is scheduled for noon.