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Sports

Notre Dame takes down North Carolina in front of record crowds

| Monday, April 24, 2017

No. 6 Notre Dame took down No. 16 North Carolina to close the regular season in front of a record crowd of 5,000 at Arlotta Stadium on Saturday, coming away with a 14-13 victory to head into the post season on a two game win streak. For senior captain Sergio Perkovic, it was an honor to play his last regular season game with such hype surrounding it.

“It was an awesome atmosphere here at Arlotta,” Perkovic said. “The last couple years so many fans come out and it is just cool to play here for the last regular season home game.”

Irish senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic cradles the ball during Notre Dame’s 11-10 loss to Syracuse on April 1 at Arlotta Stadium.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Irish senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic cradles the ball during Notre Dame’s 11-10 loss to Syracuse on April 1 at Arlotta Stadium.

Notre Dame (7-3, 2-2 ACC) started senior day on the wrong foot, letting up a quick goal to North Carolina (6-7, 1-3) sophomore Timmy Kelly less than a minute into the game. But the Irish, led by senior captains Perkovic, goalkeeper Shane Doss, midfielder Nick Koshansky and attack Anthony Marini, hit right back with a goal of their own from junior attack Mikey Wynne.

A few minutes later, the Irish put together a pair of unassisted goals from graduate student Bobby Gray and freshman Bryan Costabile to go up 3-1 early in the game. After Carolina added another goal, a pin-point pass from Perkovic found Wynne to give Wynne his second goal of the game to close out the first period with a score of 4-2 in favor of the Irish.

The Tar Heels came out strong in the first five minutes of the second period, quickly tying up the game at four with goals from graduate student Michael Tagliaferri and sophomore attack Andy Matthews.

But Notre Dame was unfazed, bouncing right back with a trio of goals from Perkovic, sophomore Brendan Gleason and the third goal on the day for Wynne to put the Irish up 7-4. North Carolina was able to break through with just three seconds left in the half, putting the halftime score at 7-5 in favor of the Irish.

The second half opened with an impressive behind the back trick shot from Tar Heel junior attack Chris Cloutier to bring the Tar Heels within one. Keeping consistent with the first half, the Irish bounced right back, behind a goal from Gleason, his second on the day.

The Tar Heels did not back down, and kept the pressure on the Irish backfield. This worked to the team’s advantage, as North Carolina was able to tie up the game at eight with two goals within 40 seconds of each other.

The scored remained unchanged for just over four minutes until the Irish broke through, with Wynne adding to his hat trick for his fourth goal of the game and putting the Irish up by one. Wynne was not done there, and following a scuffle and ground ball pickup by Perkovic, a quick pair of passes led the ball to Wynne in front of goal, who found the back of net for the fifth time on the day.

The Tar Heels did not go away as Cloutier tallied another goal to close the period, putting the scoring at 10-9 in favor of the Irish going into the final period.

But Notre Dame’s lead immediately disappeared as North Carolina tied the game up at 10 in under a minute and then took control with another goal a minute later, going up 11-10.

The Tar Heels followed up that goal with another, making it a 4-0 scoring run.

The Irish finally broke through 19 seconds later with a goal up a man to bring the game within one with just over ten minutes left. Then, an aggressive move by sophomore attack Ryder Garnsey led to another UNC penalty, opening the door for the game-tying goal by Perkovic.

“I think we just fought consistently throughout the entrie game,” Perkovic said. “There were a lot of ups and downs, and at the end of the game we went down two goals. For the first time all year we just didn’t care that we were down, we just kept making plays to win and we did that and it was awesome to see.”

The senior captain came right back to give the Irish the lead 13-12, putting the Irish on a 3-0 run in just three minutes. UNC tied the game right back up at 13 however, giving the Irish no room to slip up.

And although it was senior day for the Irish, it was a freshman who delivered the win, as Perkovic found Costabile to put the Irish up 14-13 with just over two minutes remaining in the game. An Irish shot clock violation led to a wild finish, and the ball was on the ground with both teams jostling for possession.

In the end, time ran out with the Irish in possession, earning their fourth single-goal victory of the year in their sixth single-goal game of the year.

Wynne, who finished the game with five goals, was the benefactor of strong team offense on the day.

“We know that we have really good players that draw sides,” Wynne said. “My job was just find space off ball and credit to our offense, they did a great job of finding me. I just had the easy job of catching it putting it in the back of the net.”

Despite the victory, the Irish ended the game with 19 turnovers and only converted on 16 of 23 clear attempts. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said that he was displeased with this aspect, but was proud that his team showed heart.

“We made an awful lot of good plays, but we also made a lot of bad plays,” Corrigan said. “It’s was frustrating game, because we have never turned it over that many times in the clearing game that I can remember. It was largely just mental breakdowns. However, the biggest positive was just the will to win. Our guys refused to lose and they did not get their head down when we went down two. You love to see that. We have won a lot of games with great execution, and today was a game we won more with our hearts than our heads.”

The Irish open the postseason with the ACC tournament semifinals in Durham against Duke on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium.

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About R.J. Stempak

R.J. Stempak is a sophomore computer science major who enjoys basketball.

Contact R.J.