Perkovic’s last-minute goal, career-high push Irish past Marquette
Benjamin Padanilam | Wednesday, April 12, 2017
With just under two minutes to go, No. 10 Notre Dame appeared to be in serious danger of suffering a heartbreaking home defeat.
The Irish (6-3, 1-2 ACC) had been held scoreless by Marquette up to that point in the fourth quarter, while the Golden Eagles (6-4, 2-1 Big East) had scored three goals of their own to knot the game at 10, coming back from a deficit that had been as large as six goals in the second quarter.
All the momentum seemed to be with the Golden Eagles.
So that’s when the Irish gave the ball to Sergio Perkovic.
The senior midfielder and captain had already tied his career-high with five goals in the contest, and with 52 seconds left in the game, Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan called a timeout to set up a play for the game-winning goal, asking Perkovic to get the Irish one more.
And with 25 seconds left, Perkovic delivered. Taking the ball from the top of the box, Perkovic dodged right, beat his defender, eluded the help defender and scored the goal to put the Irish up by the game’s final tally, 11-10.
“They wanted me to start with the ball, get it up high [and] come off a little two-man screen,” Perkovic said of the play. “We ran it the first time, and I passed it — we really didn’t get a shot out of it. We got it behind, the ball came back up top, I called for another screen and we just made a play out of that.”
Perkovic had been making plays all game for the Irish, as his six goals was a new career-best mark. And five of his tallies were unassisted, as Perkovic said he continually saw opportunities to take advantage of his matchup, dodge on a short-stick defender and get off his shot.
“I think it’s something that I saw develop,” Perkovic said. “They were switching a lot from the long stick to short stick, so I was getting a lot of short-stick matchups. And usually when I get short-stick matchups, I like to use my body and mix my body, speed and change of direction to get my shot off, so once I saw that they were switching a lot and I was getting matchups, I was just trying to take advantage of them.”
And yet, at the beginning of the game, it seemed as though Perkovic’s effort would be a footnote in a blowout Irish victory. In the first 16 minutes of action, the Irish outscored the Golden Eagles 8-2, taking advantage of overaggressive Marquette help defenders to find the open man on dodges and be efficient with their opportunities, scoring on eight of their first 11 shots. Notre Dame also kept the ball on the offensive side of the field for the majority of the first quarter, keeping pressure off of its defense.
“Our offense was extremely patient in the first half, and that’s something we like to see on the defensive side because it gives us a break,” junior long-stick midfielder John Sexton said. “So when our offense is clicking and they’re really taking their time of possessions, we’re refreshed and recharged for every single time we see the opponent, so it makes it a lot easier.”
But things quickly changed, as the Irish only managed two more goals over the next 43 minutes of action, while Marquette slowly chipped away at the Irish lead until it tied the game with 7:56 left in the fourth quarter.
“We came out really hot, but then they possessed the ball in the second half for probably over two-thirds of the time,” Perkovic said.
“The main breakdowns [defensively] were just little, small things here and there that Marquette was doing a really good job of capitalizing on — some things that we hope we can clean up in the next two weeks until we have our next game,” Sexton said.
Marquette outshot Notre Dame 38-26 in the game, with many of those shots coming in that 43-minute stretch. And while they chipped away at the lead, the Golden Eagles never took it despite the shot advantage because of the play of captain and senior goalie Shane Doss, who came up with 12 saves on the day.
“Shane saw a lot of shots — we weren’t necessarily helping him out as much as we would’ve liked to, but he was doing a really good job from in tight and from deep, so when you’re playing with a guy who’s that hot behind you, it definitely makes it a lot more easy on ball to have some confidence,” Sexton said.
Perhaps no save Doss made was bigger than one he made with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter — when the score was 10-10 — before clearing the ball and setting up Perkovic’s game winning goal.
“Shane played an awesome game,” Perkovic said. “He really stepped up at a time when we needed it. … He came up with crucial, big-time saves time and again, and he really kept us in the game. He played an awesome game, and he’s the reason why we stayed in that game.”
Following the victory, the Irish will have nearly two weeks off before their final regular-season game against No. 17 North Carolina on April 22. Faceoff for the game is scheduled for noon at Arlotta Stadium.