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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish fall to Maryland in first round of NCAAs

Sam Werner | Tuesday, May 12, 2009

     The last time Notre Dame lost a home game, Irish senior captain Regis McDermott was a senior in high school.

That is, until Sunday, when the seventh-seeded Irish fell to Maryland 7-3 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now,” McDermott said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet that it’s over.”

The Terrapins (10-6, 2-1 ACC) held Notre Dame (15-1, 5-0 GWLL) to just one goal in the first half, and never trailed, to hand the Irish seniors the first home defeat of their career. The loss also spoiled Notre Dame’s unbeaten season and sent the Irish packing in the opening round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

“There was no lack of effort on our guys,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We just didn’t make enough plays, simply.”

Maryland jumped on the Irish early, netting the first goal just 2:22. After a difficult save by Irish goalie Scott Rodgers, the Irish were unable to gain possession and Maryland’s Jeremy Sieverts picked up the ground ball for a 1-0 lead.

Maryland held the edge in ground balls, 31-26, and there were a number of times Notre Dame failed to control the ball after a Rodgers save.

“We picked the ball off the ground, we controlled the ball, we kept it from them a little bit,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said.

The Terrapins doubled their lead just 1:30 later when a shot by Joe Cummings just trickled past Rodgers, who made 14 saves on the afternoon, including 11 in the first half.

“We knew that we had a large task in getting it by that behemoth in that goal, because that kid is just outstanding,” Cottle said of the 6-foot-4-inch Rodgers. “He’s the best goalie I’ve seen on film all year.”

Notre Dame’s Zach Brenneman cut the lead in half at 4:38 of the opening stanza on a blistering long-range shot from the left side.

Maryland, though, extended their lead to 4-1 by halftime thanks to goals from Grant Catalino and Adam Sear.

The second half brought more of the same, as the Terrapins scored two goals in the first five minutes of the third quarter to push the margin to 6-1.

The Irish offense began to show signs of life midway through the third quarter, and had several good scoring chances. Their best coming with 8:37 left in the quarter when junior attack Neal Hicks had a breakaway with no defenseman within five yards of him. Hicks deked Maryland goalie Brian Phipps, but threw his shot wide left.

Notre Dame finally cut into the Maryland lead 3:21 left in the third, when senior captain Peter Christman curled around the left side of the Maryland net and fired a shot past Phipps.

The Irish couldn’t put anything more together, though, as Dan Groot’s second goal of the game made the Terrapin lead 7-2. Senior Grant Krebs cut the lead to 7-3 with 7:38 left, but that would be all the scoring for the afternoon.

After the game, Maryland attack Will Yeatman, who transferred from Notre Dame this season, said the fast start helped the Terrapins.

“They were kind of startled by us going up early on them,” Yeatman said. “It was apparent to everyone when we had that momentum going, and they were on their heels a little bit.”

Corrigan attributed his team’s poor offensive showing to an uncharacterisitcally weak shooting performance.

“I thought we shot the ball very poorly and just settled offensively,” he said. “And you can’t do that against a team like them.”

Cottle said that, while he’s obviously pleased to be moving on, he recognized the value of what Notre Dame has accomplished this season.

“Being on the other side of it, I appreciate what Notre Dame did this season,” he said. “I don’t think our team could have done what they did during the regular season.”

Many have said that Notre Dame’s weak schedule was a large factor in their undefeated season. Corrigan, though, dismissed the notion that a less than elite schedule played a factor in the loss.

“The strength of schedule didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “We played poorly, and that had everything to do with it.

“We were prepared. We’re a very good team. I’m not going to beat up our team for going 15-0 against any schedule. We had a great season, but we didn’t play well today and therefore we lost.”