Denver pushes past Notre Dame in overtime
Brian Plamondon | Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Twice last season, Notre Dame took part in games between teams ranked Nos. 1 and 2 at Arlotta Stadium, and twice the Irish prevailed. Sunday, however, the Irish dropped one, falling to then-No. 2 Denver in overtime, 9-8.
No. 2 Notre Dame (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season as the Irish went 1-1 over the break. On Sunday, Notre Dame tried to enact revenge against Denver (6-0), the team who knocked the Irish out of the NCAA tournament last year in the semifinals and eventually won it all. The Irish were not able to stop the now-top-ranked Pioneers, however, falling after a furious comeback attempt — and in the process allowing Denver to extend the longest winning streak in the nation to 19 games.
A week earlier, Notre Dame opened its spring break by traveling to California for the Pacific Coast Shootout against No. 6 Maryland (3-2).
There, the then-No. 1 Irish pulled away in the fourth quarter to deal the 2015 NCAA runner-up Terrapins a 9-4 loss.
Sophomore attack Mikey Wynne was key for the Irish against Maryland. He scored four goals despite aggressive defense, and the Irish ended up scoring five straight goals in the last 5:22 to pull away. Despite the offensive output late, the game was truly a low-scoring affair that valued defense.
“It was a testament to both defenses tonight,” Irish senior defenseman Matt Landis said.
After the win, Landis, a senior captain and All-American, earned honors as the ACC Defensive Player of the Week and the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Defensive Player of the Week. Landis held top Maryland attack junior Matt Rambo to just one goal on six shots.
Landis and the Irish then came home to battle Denver, a team that was ranked second in two of the national polls and first in the other — with Notre Dame holding on to the top spot in two heading into the matchup.
The previous two times these teams met needed overtime, and this affair was no different. After trailing 7-2, the Irish ripped off six straight goals to take the lead over the Pioneers. Four of those goals occurred in under 43 seconds with time dwindling down.
“One thing we know about our guys is that there’s no quitting,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “I never questioned whether our guys were going to play to the last whistle, I just wish we had played better.”
Denver tied the game up with just over two minutes to play and maintained possession throughout overtime before Pioneer junior midfielder Zach Miller’s goal with 2:02 to play.
“It’s crazy, that’s five out of six going to overtime,” Corrigan said. “It’s two teams that know each other, we’re both well-prepared for each other, the kids are going to compete like crazy and you’ve just [got] to find a way to make the last play of the game.”
Wynne led the way again for the Irish with three goals on the day. Wynne said he was disappointed with the team’s start but knew they had it in them to come back.
“That’s the one thing about our team — even though we had an awful first three quarters, we never give up,” Wynne said. “This team has a lot of heart. We fought to the very end… [and] it makes you think what we can do if we put a whole game together.”
“We live for that moment honestly,” added junior midfielder P.J. Finley, who scored the opening goal as well as the go-ahead goal for the Irish. “Guys in this team have been in every possible conceivable situation… [so] the kids don’t get scared by this type of moment. We live for it. And honestly I don’t think anyone in our team was surprised that we stepped up like that.”
While leaving the ranks of the unbeaten, Notre Dame dropped only to No. 2 in the Inside Lacrosse poll, while Denver replaced them on top.
The Irish will resume play Saturday when they welcome an unranked Virginia team (3-4, 0-1 ACC) to Arlotta Stadium. The game will get underway at 6 p.m.