Notre Dame hand Buckeyes their first loss in top-5 matchup
R.J. Stempak | Tuesday, March 28, 2017
No. 2 Notre Dame had previously won the last 14 meetings with No. 4 Ohio State, and on Saturday afternoon the Irish increased their win streak over the Buckeyes to 15. With a 12-7 final score, Notre Dame gave Ohio State its first loss of the season. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said this was the most complete performance that his team played so far this year.
“We did a lot of good things today,” Corrigan said. “I just said to the team, I thought we had in total, over the course of a game, about three minutes of mental lapses, and we paid for almost every one of them. That is to [the Buckeyes’] credit, they didn’t let us off the hook on any of them. We also played a lot of really good lacrosse today, probably the most complete game in terms of the decision-making throughout the game.”
Senior captain Sergio Perkovic broke open the seal with a goal at the 11:44 mark in the first period. Both teams played steady in their six-on-six half sets, but Ohio State (9-1, 0-0 Big 10) gave Notre Dame (5-1, 1-0 ACC) some trouble in transition. After putting on the pressure in the middle on the field, the Buckeyes forced a turnover and got a goal of their own five minutes later.
The Irish responded with three goals before the end of the period, two coming from sophomore attack Ryder Garnsey, and the last from junior Brendan Collins with 22 seconds left. Notre Dame ended the quick-paced first period with a 4-1 lead.
The Buckeyes opened scoring in the second period after an unfortunate top-post bounce off of a shot from junior midfielder Pierre Byrne lost possession for the Irish. Ohio State subsequently took the ball on a fast break and cut the lead to two.
After an aggressive move by Ryder Garnsey led to a Buckeye foul, the Irish went up a man for thirty seconds. They took advantage, as freshman midfielder Bryan Costabile scored a goal to make it 5-2. Fifth-year senior midfielder Bobby Gray and Perkovic added two more for Notre Dame, and as the half came to a close, the Irish were up 7-3. But off of a missed shot by Costabile, the Buckeyes were able to score in transition with nine seconds left. Ohio State then scored again with one second to go to cut the Irish lead to 7-5. Corrigan was not pleased with those final seconds.
“We did have a couple mental lapses at the end of the half,” Corrigan said. “We took a shot with 25 seconds left in the first half. We don’t want that shot. We either want a layup or a shot under five seconds. We do this so exactly what happened can’t happen. We opened that door for them. The team knew it. We made that mistake, so I told them, ‘Let’s not let that overshadow the 28 minutes of good lacrosse we played in the first half. Let’s get our poise back, just get back out there and play.’”
Perkovic said that despite the rough close to the half, going into the locker room only up two goals, the team did not come out any less aggressive in the second half.
“The end of the first half was tough for us, because they had two goals in 10 seconds,” Perkovic said. “They had a lot of momentum, so we knew they were going to come out strong. We weren’t scared in the second half, we kept putting pressure on them and towards the end they finally cracked and we got a bigger lead.”
While the third period lacked the drama of the second, the Irish were able to convert two goals and concede one to go into the final period up 9-6. Garnsey, who had two goals and two assists on the day, earned his second assist in the period to junior defender John Sexton, who tallied his first goal of the season. Garnsey said that he found success in playing to what the defense showed him.
“I think it is just taking what the defense gives us,” Garnsey said. “They were in a zone a little bit today, so we were able to pick them apart there. And from there my job becomes a easy with assists when we got guys like Sergio [Perkovic] and John Sexton who are in the right spots and are great shooters.”
In the final period, Ohio State struggled finding any gaps in the Notre Dame defense, and starting taking risks that turned into Irish goals. The Buckeyes were able to get one goal early in the period, but gave up three afterwards to seal the Notre Dame win. Perkovic’s third at 7:02 gave him his second straight hat trick.
“I had a lot of good opportunities today,” Perkovic said. “I could’ve buried a couple more, but we spread the field really well and felt comfortable out there. I have been shooting since the beginning of the year, so I am not going to stop shooting. I thought we played very good team offense.”
The Irish open ACC home play at noon on Saturday against Syracuse at Arlotta Stadium.