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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish, Walsh down Lehigh in final away game

Tim Dougherty | Monday, April 24, 2006

The only signs of Irish senior Pat Walsh’s illness Sunday was his sick play on the field.

Walsh, who Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said felt ill all day, took over in the fourth quarter against Lehigh, scoring three of his four goals to lead No. 17 Notre Dame (8-4, 1-2 GWLL) to 10-7 victory at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md.

With the score tied 6-6 after three quarters, Walsh sparked a late Irish surge that outscored the Mountain Hawks (8-6, 4-2 Patriot League) 4-1 in the final frame to pull out Notre Dame’s last non-league game.

Despite recording their fourth game with 10 or more goals, Corrigan said poor defensive awareness by the Irish kept Lehigh in the game by making mistakes that led to Mountain Hawk opportunities.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping them in the game for 50 minutes,” Corrigan said. “[We also did] a good job of closing the game out in the last 10 minutes.”

Down 1-0, senior attackman Brian Hubschmann began his four-point day by turning a Bill Liva pass into Notre Dame’s first score with 7:38 in the first quarter, and feeding freshman Ryan Hoff’s strike minutes later for a short-lived lead.

After knotting the game 2-2 after one period, Lehigh jumped on top to take a 4-2 lead several minutes into the second quarter after one of junior attackman Alec Hooff’s team-high three goals.

The Irish closed out the half up 5-4 with three straight scores, the last coming from Walsh’s first of a season-high four goals.

Though senior attackman Matt Karweck lifted the Irish lead to two minutes into the third quarter, Notre Dame could not ground the Mountain Hawks – who soared back behind another Hooff goal to tie the game at 6-6 after three quarters.

Despite traveling much farther to Georgetown Prep than Lehigh’s eastern Pennsylvania home, Corrigan – who arranged the location of the game – said they felt like the home team throughout the day. Sophomore goaltender Joey Kemp went to high school at Georgetown Prep.

“It w as a nice atmosphere,” Corrigan said. “We had a good solid crowd and obviously a lot of our fans there with Joey and some of the other local kids.”

Going into the fourth frame, Notre Dame’s comfort and confidence paid dividends as the Irish defense held strong, limiting Lehigh to one goal. The defensive effort came just in time for Walsh to take over, en route to passing Steve Pearsall’s 77 goals for ninth on the all-time Irish goal list (79).

“Pat was terrific today,” Corrigan said. “He was sick and played quite well in spite of [it].”

Walsh’s third goal, which put the Irish ahead for good 8-7, came off an assist by junior Brannon Halvorsen after Corrigan said the midfielder made a “terrific play” to get Walsh the ball.

However, the Irish coach wished Halvorsen’s efforts were not necessary to ensure the victory. Despite showing signs of the team ranked as high as No. 8 in the country earlier in the year, the Irish could not play 60 minutes of consistent lacrosse.

“The pace of game was what we wanted to be,” Corrigan said of his team’s performance through the first three quarters. “When we settled down and played six-on-six with them, we played pretty well. But we kept them in the game. They had seven at one point, and it should’ve probably been 9-3.”

After disappointing losses in Colorado last weekend against No. 15 Denver and Air Force, Corrigan was pleased the Irish made the plays necessary to come out on top Sunday.

“We kept our poise at the end,” he said. “And [we] made the plays down the stretch we needed to make.”

With four-point performances by both Walsh and Hubschmann, Sunday’s win marked the sixth game this season that the duo combined for eight or more points. It was the second Irish win against a team ranked in the Top 20 at the time of the game.

When the two leading Irish scorers (Walsh 36, Hubschmann 35) fail to notch eight points, the Irish are only 3-3, highlighting the importance both play in the Irish defense.

“We need them to score and take advantage of opportunities we create as a team,” Corrigan said. “Clearly, they’re our two best offensive players, and we play better when they put points on the board.”

Freshmen attackmen Ryan Hoff and Peter Christman also added their 14th and fourth goals of the season, respectively, and Matt Karweck picked up his 16th – good for third on the Irish season leader board in both goals and points.

Senior reserve face-off specialist Steve Panos split time with injury-ridden sophomore starter Taylor Clagett (whose .616 percentage would put him 10th in the country if he had enough face-offs to qualify) to go 12-19 against the 13th best face-off team in the nation.

“[Clagett] is a little banged up, and Steve gave him a break,” Corrigan said.”[Clagett] is really toughing it out…And there are no complaints from him. He’s a warrior.”

With the non-league schedule finished, the Irish turn their attention to this Saturday’s contest against Ohio State (6-5, 3-1 GWLL), who split its weekend matches, falling 13-9 to No. 15 Denver Friday and downing Air Force 11-7 Sunday. The Irish need convincing wins against the Buckeyes and May 6 at home against Quinnipiac (6-5, 0-3 GWLL) to make a late case for an at-large tournament bid.