Irish kickstart season in dominant fashion
Manuel De Jesus | Monday, February 22, 2016
No. 1 Notre Dame walked away victorious in its season opener for the 14th consecutive season Saturday, and for the second straight year the team’s first win came against No. 13 Georgetown.
The Irish (1-0) traveled to Kennesaw State University to take on the Hoyas (0-1), and after getting off to a fast start offensively, the Irish cruised to a 12-7 win.
Notre Dame wasted no time getting on the board. Junior All-American midfielder Sergio Perkovic split two Georgetown defenders and fired a shot from about 20 yards out to give the Irish a 1-0 lead about two minutes into the opening quarter. Later in the quarter, the Irish scored three straight goals in a little more than three minutes to give them a 4-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The four-goal advantage gave the Irish a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the contest.
“We talked about coming out strong and wanted to lock in and make sure we were successful in doing so,” sophomore attack Mikey Wynne said. “Playing with a lead is much nicer than playing from behind, so we put a lot of energy and focus into coming out and taking a quick lead.”
Perkovic, a first-team All-American last season, scored a game-high four goals. Senior All-American attack Matt Kavanagh scored a goal early in the second quarter and added a game-high four assists. Junior midfielder P.J. Finley lead the Irish in the face-off battle, winning 16 of 21 face offs.
Wynne, who scored six goals against the Hoyas in last season’s opener, added another three goals for the Irish. Wynne, who scored 33 goals last season, said he credits his success against Georgetown to his teammates’ ability to get him in scoring position.
“I have the same approach to every game, not just Georgetown,” Wynne said. “I always look at the film and scouting reports that our coaches out together and try to take advantage where I can. My teammates played extremely well and put me in situations to score goals, so a lot of the credit goes to them.”
Junior goalie Shane Doss also had a solid performance, tallying 14 saves, including six in the first quarter. It took the Hoyas some time to find their offense, but down 7-3 at the start of the third quarter, junior midfielder Peter Conley and freshman attack Daniel Bucaro tallied two goals to shrink the deficit to two goals. Conley and Bucaro led the Hoyas offense with two goals apiece, but it took them 15 shots combined to score four goals.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Irish and Hoyas traded goals, but in the final four minutes of the game, freshman long-stick midfielder Hugh Crance and Wynne added the final two goals to secure the victory.
The Irish aren’t intimidated with living up to the No. 1 ranking, Wynne said. Despite committing several errors against Georgetown — which resulted in 15 turnovers — Notre Dame believes its development throughout the season will only make the team better than the ranking it owns, he said.
“I don’t think being number one had any effect on us as a team going into the Georgetown game,” Wynne said. “It’s an honor to be ranked there, but we know that ranking doesn’t mean anything until the end of the year. If anything, we just wanted to get out and play and prove we are the strongest team in the country.”
Notre Dame will host Bellarmine on Wednesday in its home opener at Arlotta Stadium at 5 p.m.