Notre Dame offense hums along in win over Michigan
Greg Hadley | Sunday, February 22, 2015
Two games in, and already No. 2 Notre Dame’s offense is setting records.
With a 17-8 road win over Michigan on Saturday, the Irish (2-0) have scored 31 goals on the season, good for fifth in the country and the most by any squad in program history since 1992.
Despite the big numbers, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said Notre Dame is far from finished developing.
“We’re getting there,” Corrigan said. “It’s too early to get too excited about anything. We’re sure we have a lot of guys who can contribute, and if we can play in the right way, then we should be a pretty talented team.”
In the first-ever meeting between the Wolverines (3-1) and the Irish as varsity squads, Notre Dame’s offense was in full force, with 10 different players scoring a goal. Freshman attack Mikey Wynne led the charge, tallying four goals to follow up on his six-goal debut against Georgetown on Feb. 14. His five goals per game ranks second nationally and first on the team, ahead of junior attack Matt Kavanagh, who has led the Irish each of the past two seasons.
“There is no main producer [on our offense],” Corrigan said. “There are our guys worrying about us playing good offense. If we play good offense, over time a variety of guys will make plays for us and have the opportunities to make plays for us. And if we don’t play good offense, then we’ve got some guys who are talented enough to make those plays anyway. But that won’t result in our team being as effective.”
Kavanagh scored three goals to go with three assists and led the team with six points, but Corrigan said he was particularly pleased with the play of senior attack Conor Doyle, who totaled two scores and a helper.
“One of the guys who I’m really happy with right now is Conor Doyle,” Corrigan said. “While Conor may not have put up numbers that would draw everyone’s attention, he’s done all the things we want him to do — he’s been good on ground balls, he’s reading really hard, he’s making great decisions with the ball, he’s a threat to score, he’s a threat to feed.
“So if people think they can focus on Matt Kavanagh or Mikey Wynne, they can’t. … Conor Doyle gets a lot of credit for how well our attack has played because he’s not been forcing things and he’s been playing very unselfishly. That’s really important to our team and our offense.”
Notre Dame’s offense was jumpstarted Saturday by the play of its faceoff specialists, senior midfielder Nick Ossello and sophomore midfielder P.J. Finley, who combined to win 17 of 29 faceoffs. Ossello added two assists, and Finely led all players with five ground balls.
“We’re still figuring out [who will start] there,” Corrigan said. “The guy who took the majority of our faceoffs last year [midfielder Liam O’Connor] graduated, so that’s an area where we hope to continue to get better and smarter both from a coach’s and a player’s standpoint. … But for the start of the year, P.J. has certainly done a good job with the opportunities that he’s had.”
On defense, sophomore goalie Shane Doss started in the place of senior Conor Kelly after replacing him early in the second half against Georgetown. Doss made 13 saves, including six in the fourth quarter, playing well enough to earn him next week’s start against Dartmouth but not performing at his full potential, Corrigan said.
“Shane played very well in goal,” Corrigan said. “He made a number of very good saves, so Shane will continue to be our starter. But we need him to do a better job outside the crease; in our clearing and our overall sense of situations outside the goals, I think he needs to do a better job.”
Notre Dame plays Dartmouth next Saturday at Arlotta Stadium, starting at 1 p.m.