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Strong defense gives Irish back to back wins

Dan Tapetillo | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Irish rose above the freezing weather and produced their best back-to-back defensive performance in school history last weekend. On April 4, Notre Dame pounced on Dartmouth 10-3 and then collected its second consecutive win 12-2 against Air Force. “It was an important thing for us to only allow five goals because defensively we had been struggling,” Pat Walsh said. “It was our focus that got us to produce those results; it was a big step for the team.” To begin the match, Steve Clagett scored the first goal of the game. The lead, however, did not last long as Air Force came back to tie the game with nearly nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. It did not take the Irish defense long to rally, as Air Force was denied a goal for the next 48:14 left in the match until there was only 5:47 left in the fourth quarter. Air Force only had 17 shots (10 on the goal) – and the lowest shot attempts by previous Irish opponents was 31. Offensively, the Irish had three players produce four points, Matt Howell, Brian Giordano and Brian Hubschmann. Giordano recorded his third hat trick of the season and also contributed an assist. Dan Berger also contributed to the Irish win, finishing with two goals, improving his total to 20 multiple-goal outings in his career. Air Force allowed a season-high 12 goals during the match, which led to its downfall. However, the team led in ground balls, finishing with a 51-44 advantage. Brushing away Air Forces scoring attempts, Stewart Crosland was relentless in his goalkeeping for the second game in a row. He registered eight saves on 10 shots. Crosland set a career high in save percentage after he stopped 12 of 13 shots (.923) against Dartmouth. Crosland’s latest performances have greatly enhanced the team morale. “Anytime the team is struggling, you look for something to get you back on track and the way Stew has been playing; it has given everyone a boost of confidence,” Walsh said. Notre Dame 14, Denver 12After trailing 9-6 in the third quarter, the Irish rallied to defeat Denver 14-12. This win gave Notre Dame its second consecutive GWLL victory. It also put the team at 2-1 for the season and second in the conference. With such a strong start, the Irish already have their sights set on the conference title and hope to clinch an automatic birth to the NCAA Championships. The late charge began with a goal scored by Berger. Offensively, the Irish were relentless as they scored three additional goals during the quarter to give them a 10-9 lead heading into the fourth period. After Denver tied the game with 10:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Irish netted three goals which proved to lock the 14-12 win. Walsh recorded four goals and three assists. This performance was just one off of his top collegiate performances.