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Men’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame opens season with late victory

Michael Bryan | Monday, February 16, 2009

No. 7 Notre Dame opened its season in dramatic fashion Saturday, edging No. 17 Loyola (Md.) 10-9 in Atlanta. Senior attacker Ryan Hoff received an assist from junior Grant Krebs and netted the winning goal for Notre Dame with 5:29 remaining.

The match, which remained close from start to finish, was the seventh straight Irish win in season-openers. Krebs led Notre Dame offensively with four points on three goals and the winning assist.

The Irish jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter with goals from Hoff, junior Neal Hicks, and sophomore David Earl. Loyola quickly responded, however, reeling off four straight goals to take a 5-3 advantage.

Notre Dame then went on a run of its own, scoring three straight goals, including two from Hicks. The Greyhounds netted the last goal of the half to enter the break tied at six.

The second-half was a back-and-forth contest, as the Irish scored three times only to have Loyola equalize shortly afterwards. Hoff finally put the Irish up for good with his second goal of the match, and senior goaltender Scott Rodgers made two critical saves in the final minute to preserve the victory.

Rodgers, making his first collegiate start, tallied eleven saves.

“I think our smarts and discipline is what makes us so tough,” Rodgers said. “We take a lot of pride in paying attention to the small details and nuances of the game.”

Loyola was led by junior Collin Finnerty, who scored four goals and added an assist. Goaltender Jake Hagelin also contributed 15 saves for the Greyhounds.

Hoff added that while the team enjoyed the success, a long season is ahead of the Irish.

“To reach our ultimate goal it takes doing it week by week, game by game,” Hoff said.

Hicks recorded a career-high three goals for the Irish playing in a return to his home state. Earl added two goals and senior midfielder Duncan Swezey had three assists.

Notre Dame will return to the field next Sunday, visiting Penn State. The Irish open at home Feb. 28 against Dartmouth.