Irish split with top-10 foes
Greg Hadley | Tuesday, March 17, 2015
In a pair of top-10 contests road contests over spring break, No. 3 Notre Dame suffered through the second half, getting outscored in both by a combined six goals.
It only cost the Irish once though.
Against No. 6 Denver on March 7 and No. 8 Virginia last Saturday, Notre Dame (4-1, 1-0 ACC) sprinted out to early leads, collecting five goals in the first quarter of each game. But while the Pioneers (4-2) rallied to force overtime and take the 11-10 victory, the Cavaliers (5-2, 0-2) fell short, 11-9.
In both matchups the team was held back by their inability to execute, Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said.
“I think we hurt ourselves at the end of the day [against Denver],” Corrigan said. “We hurt ourselves with penalties, we hurt ourselves with giving up a couple things we shouldn’t have given up, and as a result we just weren’t able to come out on top.”
Against Virginia, the same problems came up again after halftime.
“The second half of the Virginia game was us once again making some mistakes in the clearing game and on ground balls that gave them the opportunity to get back in the game,” Corrigan said. “They never got closer than two, but still, that game should never have been that close.”
Notre Dame was below its season average in clearing percentage (81 percent) in both games, failing to get the ball out of the defensive zone six total times. Against Virginia, the squad lost the ground ball battle, 34-30.
The Irish also lost the faceoff battle in both contests, including a pivotal overtime start that gave the Pioneers the ball, after which they promptly scored 43 seconds into the extra period to end the game. Possession was key in both matchups, Corrigan said.
“I thought that overall, on the day, we did not faceoff well, and it hurt us throughout the day,” Corrigan said. “In the second half, we just didn’t have the ball, and that’s something we have to continue to work on as well. We can’t continue to be on the short end of the faceoff game.”
The Irish also committed six penalties against Denver, surrendering four man-up goals.
“Whether you like the calls or don’t like the calls, that’s too many times for us to be man-down and too many goals for us to give up in that area of the game,” Corrigan said. “We’ve got to get better there and we’ve got to not foul.”
Against Virginia, the Irish stormed out to early lead, scoring the first seven goals of the game. Freshman attack Mikey Wynne collected a hat trick before the Cavaliers found the back of the net, with junior attack Matt Kavanagh chipping two goals and an assist of his own.
“We rode very hard, we got ground balls and we were very efficient offensively,” Corrigan said. “And defensively, they couldn’t get by us. And we weren’t giving them anything, we weren’t creating anything for them, so it was just overall some of the best lacrosse we’ve played, especially coming on the road against a team like that. The first half was terrific.”
However, just before the break, the Cavaliers received a man-up opportunity and converted to close the margin to 8-2 and gain crucial momentum. In the second half, they outscored the Irish 7-3, including the final three scores of the game.
“It’s not like we did something different than what we did in the first half,” Corrigan said. “We just didn’t do it as well. It’s a matter of being more consistent. There’s nothing we have to change or do differently, we just have to do a better job. We failed to clear and we failed to win ground balls that we should have won and pick up first-chance ground balls and things of that nature.
“You do that in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, it’s going to hurt you. So we just need to be more consistent over the course of 60 minutes.”
The Irish return to Arlotta Stadium to face Ohio State this Saturday at 4 p.m.