Notre Dame set for defensive showdown against Marquette
Kit Loughran | Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The nation’s two best defenses will duke it out Wednesday at Arlotta Stadium when No. 1 Notre Dame hosts No. 17 Marquette.
Both teams take a break from their respective conference slates to put their defensive regimes to the test. The Golden Eagles (8-1, 3-0 Big East) boast the best scoring defense in the country with just 6.33 goals allowed per game, while the Irish (8-1, 3-0 ACC) stand just behind them in second with 6.56 goals allowed.
“Marquette is a very solid team and is going to be a tough challenge for us,” junior goalie Shane Doss said. “They have some great long-poles and defensive middies, as well as a strong offense.”
And it’s Doss and Golden Eagles junior goalie Jimmy Danaher who have contributed to these programs’ effective and efficient defenses. Ranked first and second nationally in goals-against average, Doss averages 6.39 and Danaher 6.54, respectively. Doss also ranks third in save percentage (.603).
The Irish head into Wednesday’s game after holding an efficient Duke offense to six goals Sunday — the 12th-ranked Blue Devils’ lowest goal total on the season — to earn a tight ACC win, 8-6. The Irish also managed to hold No. 3 Denver to a season low in goals March 13, while also shutting out Ohio State during the third quarter March 26 and No. 9 Syracuse in the fourth period April 2.
“The defense has been playing outstanding all year, and holding a really strong Duke team to six goals was a big accomplishment for us,” Doss said. “We’ve had some guys get injured on that side of the field, but other players have really stepped up, and the entire unit is working together very well right now.
“We just want to build on that against Marquette and keep making things really difficult for the opposing offense.”
Now, the impressive Notre Dame defense meets its match in Marquette’s. In addition to leading the country in scoring defense, the Golden Eagles have prevented four of its nine opponents this season from scoring more than five goals. Marquette’s defense even shut down Villanova’s junior attack Jake Froccaro, who led the country with 3.88 goals per game entering the April 2 contest, shutting him out of the goal category for the first time all season.
“For us to be successful [against Marquette] we’re going to need to play disciplined and constantly make plays all over the field,” Doss said.
The Irish will need to apply that discipline in their physical play to their mental game as well. Just three days after taking on Duke, Notre Dame has a quick turnaround with this midweek matchup.
“This is going to be a really quick turnaround going from Sunday to Wednesday, so we haven’t really had any time to practice full-speed while preparing for Marquette,” Doss said. “Also, this being only our second midweek game of the year means that we’re going to need to put some extra time into getting into that mindset that we’re used to for game day.”
Another challenge the Irish face heading into this afternoon is injuries. Despite injuries to some key defensive players, the Irish have seen the unexpected players step up to the plate, Doss said. And on Sunday those teammates included freshmen midfielder Drew Schantz and defender Hugh Crance, who helped shut down Duke senior midfielder Myles Jones.
“We’ve had a couple guys go down with various injuries, so it’s just been a matter of the next guy stepping up, and they’ve all done a great job with that so far,” Doss said. “Their success and the win over Duke should give them confidence heading into this next game to keep making plays for us.”
The Irish and Golden Eagles face off Wednesday at Arlotta Stadium at 4 p.m.