Irish strive for win against Cavaliers
Manuel De Jesus | Thursday, March 17, 2016
After suffering its first loss of the season to No. 1 Denver on Sunday, No. 2 Notre Dame will look to rebound in its first conference matchup of the season against Virginia on Saturday.
The Irish (4-1, 0-0) will face a Cavaliers (3-4, 0-1) squad that has struggled to get off to a fast start this season. Despite wins against Drexel, University of Pennsylvania and Saint Joseph’s, losses to Loyola Maryland, High Point, Syracuse and Cornell have dropped the once-ranked Cavaliers out of both the coaches and media polls.
Even with the Cavaliers’ rough start, Notre Dame’s history with Virginia should diminish any thoughts of overlooking the Cavaliers. In nine meetings, the Irish have gone 4-5 against the Cavaliers but have managed to win the last three contests, including a 12-10 win in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2012. Led by its second-ranked scoring defense, Notre Dame will look to make it four consecutive wins against Virginia.
Junior goalie Shane Doss said the team’s defensive success against Virginia will come from scouting the Cavaliers’ offensive game plan.
“Virginia has a lot of talented guys who know how to put the ball in the net, and our job is to just get a feel for their tendencies and the looks they try to create for their offense,” Doss said. “However, in the end, we know that if we play our game to the best of our ability, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the field.”
The Cavaliers are led by senior attack James Pannell, who has recorded 12 goals and seven assists so far this season. Junior midfielder Zed Williams has tallied 12 goals and two assists, and sophomore attack Mike D’Amario has scored 10 goals, while tallying an assist. These three have produced a significant amount of Virginia’s offense, which averages 10.86 goals a game, but against Notre Dame’s defense, which concedes just 6.2 goals per game, Virginia will have a tough time putting the ball in the net.
Notre Dame will also have an opportunity to pounce of Virginia’s suspect defense, which has allowed 10.7 goals per game. The Cavaliers have let their opponents outscore them through the first three periods 58-52. Sophomore attack Mikey Wynne and junior midfielder Sergio Perkovic, who have scored a combined 26 goals this season, lead a Notre Dame offense that has outscored its opponents 54-31.
On the defensive end, the Irish are led by Doss and senior All-American defenseman Matt Landis. Doss, who averages 8.8 saves per game and collected a USILA Player of the Week honor after a 12-7 victory over Georgetown on February 20, stressed the importance of learning from the team’s mistakes. In their double-overtime loss to Denver, Doss said the Irish failed to capitalize on their opportunities, and he understands making the same mistakes against a conference opponent could prove problematic on Saturday.
“We’ve gone over our mistakes and looked at the specifics of what went wrong, but overall, we feel that we just didn’t make quite enough plays to win the game against Denver,” Doss said. “We will probably get a chance to play them again down the road so, for now, we are moving on to Virginia and continuing to try to get better every day.”
Notre Dame, who has not lost back-to-back games since it lost two straight to Syracuse and Duke in 2014, will host Virginia on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.