Notre Dame rolls through exhibition contests
Greg Hadley | Sunday, February 2, 2014
The offense was out in full force over the weekend for No. 4 Notre Dame, who started off its season on a high note inside the Loftus Center, sweeping through the exhibition schedule with wins over Bellarmine and Detroit, by scores of 12-5 and 22-7, respectively.In both games, the Irish attack started off slow before exploding in the second half. Against Bellarmine on Saturday, the Irish went down 5-1 midway through the second quarter before reeling off 11 unanswered goals for the win. Sunday against Detroit, the two squads entered halftime locked in a 5-5 tie before the Irish scored eight consecutive goals to take a lead they would never relinquish. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said he was particularly pleased with the depth his squad showed.
“We got a lot of guys who can score,” Corrigan said. “I’d be hard pressed to single out just one of them that was that much better. A lot of people played well today. They were within themselves, but played well.”
Leading the way for the offense was senior attack Ryan Mix and freshman midfielder Sergio Perkovic. Perkovic scored three early goals against Bellarmine to keep the Irish close, while Mix netted four goals against Detroit.
On defense, Notre Dame struggled early but came on strong to allow just two second-half goals in both games combined. Corrigan credited the turnaround to several mid-game adjustments.
“Scrimmages are a different animal from practices,” Corrigan said. “We were adjusting on the fly this weekend. In practice, we know what we’re going up against so we spend most of the time working nuance into our system, especially defensively. But for these games, we didn’t scout them or anything, so we had to adjust in the game. It was great for us to develop.”
Early foul trouble against Detroit did not make defense any easier for the Irish. Five of the Titans’ seven goals came on man-up opportunities, as the Irish spent most of the first quarter down a player.
“We’re not a team that usually fouls a lot,” Corrigan said. “So if we can figure that out [we’ll be fine]. If we’re not man-down, I would say that we’re playing pretty good defense right now.”
With the loss of all-American goalie John Kemp to graduation, Corrigan started junior Conor Kelly in both matchups, but also gave substantial playing time to freshman Shane Doss.
The Notre Dame offense also had trouble producing in the first quarter, but picked up steam as each game went on. At the start of the second half against Detroit, the Irish scored five times in two and a half minutes to pull away. Corrigan said the offensive firepower was a result of better execution.
“I’d love to take credit for the adjustments we made,” Corrigan said. “But that was just our guys making plays, honestly. We were getting to the right spots and everyone was making good, smart, hard plays with the ball. As a team we can score a lot, especially when we play that unselfishly.”
Saturday’s game was the first matchup between Bellarmine and Notre Dame since 2009, but Detroit nearly knocked the Irish out in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the end of last season. The Irish eventually prevailed over the Titans, 9-7.
The Irish begin their regular season on Feb. 16 against Jacksonville, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Contact Greg Hadley at [email protected]