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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish beat Penn State for second win in a row

Joseph Monardo | Monday, February 28, 2011

Despite a number of missed offensive opportunities, the Irish turned in an impressive defensive performance their 6-2 win over Penn State, extending their winning streak over the Nittany Lions to nine.

No. 4 Notre Dame (2-0) outlasted a Penn State (1-1) team that was powered by an exceptional performance from freshman goalie Austin Kaut, who recorded 15 saves on the day.

“Their goalie played really well,” senior captain Andrew Irving said.

To compound the difficulties which Kaut’s performance presented, the Irish struggled for most of the game to control their shots and to put the ball on net.

“[Kaut] made some very nice saves,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We did not do a good job of putting away a lot of opportunities we created, and the combination was enough to keep us in a tough spot for the better part of the day.”

While they undoubtedly hurt themselves with a number of errant shots, the Irish more than made up for it with pure quantity of shots, out-shooting the Nittany Lions 41-19. This persistence paid off eventually, as the Irish netted three goals in the final quarter while holding Penn State scoreless to secure the win.

“Going into the fourth quarter we said … we’re doing everything but putting the ball into the back of the net,” Corrigan said. “Luckily we were able to make some of those plays in the fourth quarter.”

In the first half, Notre Dame jumped on the board first with junior attack Nicholas Beattie’s early goal before Penn State tied it up with a goal from their extra man unit following a Notre Dame penalty. Senior captain Zach Brenneman put the Irish back on top with his goal as the first quarter winded down, and sophomore Ryan Foley added a goal of his own to give the Irish a 3-1 advantage entering halftime.

The Nittany Lions scored once more in the third quarter before the Irish slammed the door shut in the fourth. For Notre Dame, defense was key, as the team forced sixteen turnovers and generally stifled Penn State’s offense.

Sophomore goalie John Kemp recorded 8 saves in the game.

“I think we knew what they were going to try to do on offense,” Irving said. “It was just a really great defensive effort from everyone on our team.”

Corrigan appreciates the job his defense did in denying Penn State of scoring opportunities.

“Penn State was very patient offensively,” he said, “waiting for what they wanted but they just weren’t getting many good looks at it, and when they did, John Kemp came up big.”

With the win, the Irish improve their record in the month of February to 19-3 under Corrigan. Having benefited from their previous experiences with strong starts, the Irish are sure to not let their guard down only two games into the season.

“We really understand from last year that every game matters,” Irving said. “It’s not just the games in the [beginning or] end that matter, but the games in the middle of the season are just as important, so every game is important.”