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Men’s Lacrosse: Road tripping: Irish cruise to three wins over spring break

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring break was a good time for the Irish.

No. 12 Notre Dame began its three-game set March 11, downing then-No. 20 North Carolina 9-7 at Moose Krause Stadium.

After compiling three points in the first two contests, senior attack Pat Walsh sparked a struggling Irish offense, recording six points against the Tar Heels with one goal and five assists.

Notre Dame broke open a 3-3 game in the second quarter with five straight goals. Walsh had four assists in the quarter and senior attackman Brian Hubschmann added two goals to give the Irish an 8-3 lead in the third quarter. Hubschmann, the team’s leading point scorer for the week (10 goals, 7 assists), also recorded two assists in the game.

“Through the fall and preseason he’s been tearing it up,” senior co-captain D.J. Driscoll said. “His presence out there on the field as a shooter, as a gunner gives our offense more room to breathe, and they have to respect him.”

The Irish defense survived a run of four straight North Carolina goals to make it a one-point game before senior midfielder Matt Ryan capped off the day’s scoring with Notre Dame’s ninth goal.

Though the loss was Carolina’s fourth of the year, the Irish were pleased to recover from their 9-6 loss to Cornell the previous week to defeat a talented Tar Heel team.

“We felt it was a make-or-break game,” Driscoll said. “It was a huge turning point. North Carolina has all the talent in the world. We knew what they were capable of and we knew we had to play our best game and we took care of it.”

Despite attempting five fewer shots than North Carolina and winning nine fewer groundballs than the Heels, Driscoll said Notre Dame controlled the tempo of the game.

“We can’t argue with the stats, but we just executed when it counted,” he said.

Notre Dame carried its momentum through a 10-7 win at Villanova March 14.

After falling behind 3-2 against the Wildcats, the Irish again ripped off five straight goals to take a lead they never relinquished. Hubschmann led the Irish charge with four goals and one assist to maintain his team’s lead in those categories.

Notre Dame’s offense stumbled in the second half, waiting until Villanova had come within 8-7 before scoring the final two goals with under five minutes left in the game – a trend Driscoll believes the Irish need to fix in order to be an NCAA Tournament contender.

“We couldn’t put them away,” he said. “We let them hang around. We have to start putting teams out of the game. Once we can accomplish that, we’ll be on cruise control.”

The Irish road trip concluded with a stop in Louisville, Ky. Saturday, where they handled Bellarmine 8-2 in the teams’ first lacrosse meeting. This year is Bellarmine’s first as a full NCAA Division I member. The two goals allowed were a career record for sophomore goalie Joey Kemp, who recorded 10 of his 24 saves during the week against the Knights.

The Irish (4-1) outscored their three opponents 27-16, reversing a trend of poor offensive production. Most importantly, Driscoll said, they came out of the week with three more wins and even more confidence.

The Irish will carry their winning streak into their third straight road contest Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y., against the No. 6 Hofstra Pride.

“People look at our schedule and say we really didn’t beat anyone,” Driscoll said, “but every win is important to gain momentum going into our game Saturday against Hofstra.”