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MEN’S LACROSSE: Notre Dame destroys Penn State in opener

Mike Gilloon | Monday, February 28, 2005

Playing on the road against a top-25 team is not an easy way to start a season. So when No. 10 Notre Dame defeated No. 21 Penn State 14-6 Sunday, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan was impressed.

“Yes, I was surprised,” Corrigan said about his program’s largest margin of victory ever against a ranked team on the road. “The history of this series is close. It’s a positive start for us.”

Notre Dame’s defense keyed the victory. Led by goalie Stewart Crosland, who tallied 18 saves, the Irish held Penn State scoreless for the final 25 minutes.

“Our defense executed really well,” Corrigan said. “[Crosland] played well and we did a great job on ground balls.”

Leading 8-5 at halftime, the Irish allowed a goal by Nittany Lion attack Nate Whitaker with 25:17 left in the second period. Notre Dame struck back quickly, padding its lead 53 seconds later as returning All-American Pat Walsh netted his first goal of the year.

The score pushed Walsh’s career point total to 100. The junior reached the century mark in only 27 matches, faster than any Irish player except all-time leading scorer Randy Colley, who achieved the mark in 21 games.

“He’s a terrific player,” Corrigan said. “Pat is the glue that holds that end of the field together.”

Walsh and the other starting attacks – Matt Karweck and Jim Morrison – each recorded three goals.

Karweck is making a habit of playing well against the Nittany Lions, with his hat trick raising his goal total to seven in the past two games against Penn State.

The Irish attack picked up right where it left off last season as Notre Dame ranked second nationally in offense in 2004, averaging 12.5 goals per game.

“I was very pleased with the effort,” Corrigan said.

Many teams shy away from playing competitive programs like Penn State so early in the season. But Corrigan sees several benefits in challenging his team this way.

“We prepare in the preseason with a sense of urgency,” Corrigan said. “Our guys always know you start with a very good team. But once you get [a win], you got a good one in the bank.”

The win gives the Irish three straight victories over Penn State in Happy Valley, the longest current winning streak in series history. Their next match is March 5 at No. 9 Cornell.