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No. 16 Loyola hands Irish third straight loss

Dan Tapetillo | Monday, March 22, 2004

Call it early season jitters. Call it a slow start. Regardless, the Irish have lost their third consecutive match and now find themselves at 1-3 on the season.Early in Saturday’s match against No. 16 Loyola in Baltimore, Notre Dame was in a position that was all too familiar – behind. “We were trying to stay positive after the first quarter,” Pat Walsh said. “We felt we could score if we had better possessions and at the time were only worrying about scoring one goal at a time.” Loyola’s 7-1 advantage early in the game proved to be too much for Notre Dame, as they fell 13-7.This trend of falling behind opponents early in games has continued to plague Notre Dame throughout this season.Case in point – against North Carolina, the Irish were down 9-5 at halftime. Syracuse proved to be a closer match, with the team down 4-3 after the first quarter.In Saturday’s match, Loyola had scored three goals before midfield Brian Hubschmann scored the Irish’s first point.Loyola then quickly responded with three more goals with only nine minutes left in the first half to take a 6-1 lead. Fortunately, the Irish were able to fight back before halftime to make the score 8-4 on goals by All-American attack Pat Walsh, midfielder Steve Clagett and attack Matt Howell. “We started to get the offense going at the end of the first half and we were still positive,” Walsh said. “We didn’t come out ready and intense at the beginning and they did, so they were able to get an early lead on us.”The Irish continued the comeback in the second half with Owen Mulford scoring his first goal of the season with 5:05 left in the third quarter. However, after cutting the Loyola lead to three, Loyola scored 40 seconds later. But by the end of the match, the Irish ran out of steam and were only able to produce two of the final six goals of the game, giving Loyola the 13-7 victory. “Our previous two losses came from two top-10 ranked teams, so it isn’t anything to be ashamed of,” Walsh said. “We still have eight games ahead of us and it isn’t about who is playing their best lacrosse at the beginning of the season.”Not only was it the third straight loss for the Irish, but also the third consecutive loss in ground balls, as Loyola edged out the Irish 43 to 33. D.J. Driscoll and Matt Ryan each registered four ground balls to lead the Irish. Coming into the match, Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 in the country in converting extra-man opportunities. However, they were unable to take advantage of four opportunities. The Irish were also second in scoring offense but were held to a season low. Despite the offensive blemishes during Saturday’s loss, Steward Crosland excelled defensively, recording 12 saves. “We haven’t played 60 minutes of hard lacrosse. We have had spots of it, but not a whole game,” Walsh said. “We had more talent than both teams, but that doesn’t win games.” Although the Irish are off to a slow start, their focus is on post-season action and learning from their mistakes rather than dwelling on what could have been. “We were disappointed at the end of the match but we knew what we did wrong,” Walsh said. “It is much better that we catch our problems early in the season so we can fix them.”The Irish will have a chance to prove what they have learned when they face No. 14 Hofstra Wednesday at the Loftus Sports Center. Hofstra is fresh off of a loss to No. 6 Princeton.