Defense leads Notre Dame to second-half comeback in win over Duke
Manuel De Jesus | Monday, April 11, 2016
No. 1 Notre Dame overcame its offensive struggles in the second half to push to past No. 13 Duke, 8-6, at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday, extending its winning streak to four games.
The Irish (8-1, 3-0 ACC) took control of the game after trailing the Blue Devils (7-6, ACC 1-2) by two goals in the third quarter. Freshman attack Ryder Garnsey scored two straight goals two tie the contest at five goals, but it wasn’t until the 4:45 mark of the fourth quarter that the Irish took their first lead of the game. Junior midfielder Sergio Perkovic sliced through the Blue Devils defense and scored to give Notre Dame a 7-6 lead.
The Irish defense did its part in holding Duke to just two second-half goals to secure the win.
“I don’t care who you play, you do the best job you can simulating people and getting used to them all week, but until you’re on the field with them, it’s different,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We have [senior midfielder] Cole Riccardi playing [Blue Devils senior midfielder] Myles Jones. He’s a very good player and he’s a big strong kid, but he’s not Myles Jones. So making those slide decisions, defending him, realizing the things that he can do that no one else can do, that’s crucial, and the same thing goes for [Blue Devils senior midfielder Deemer Class] or for [junior midfielder Jack Bruckner] on the inside, who I think is really effective.”
Jones, who was selected number one overall in the 2016 Major League Lacrosse draft, was held to just one assist. Class was also held to just one score despite averaging 2.92 goals per game on the season. The nation’s second most-potent offense, which averages 14.5 goals per game, went on a 16-minute scoring drought from the start of the third to the end of the fourth quarters, which helped Notre Dame catapult past Duke in the second half.
Junior goalie Shane Doss made several key saves late in the game to keep the Irish ahead in the last five minutes. With a minute and a half left and up by one score, Jones made a pass out to Class, who shot the ball towards the upper right corner of the cage. But Doss was quick enough to make the pivotal save to keep the Irish in front.
“You saw early in the game, their second or third — it was a tic-tac-toe kind of goal — four passes in a second and a half and there’s a guy on the back side by himself,” Corrigan said. “That’s not anymore the guy on the ball’s fault than it is to his credit when something like that doesn’t happen. That’s about three or four guys working really well together, communicating, making good decisions. That was an impressive group. [Irish freshman midfielder Drew Schantz] and [sophomore midfielder John Sexton] did play really well, but you don’t stop Myles Jones with anybody. Or Deemer Class either, for that matter. He’s a terrific player too.”
In addition to minimizing two of Duke’s most dangerous offensive players, Notre Dame’s defense caused 10 of Duke’s 23 turnovers. While it took the offense some time to adjust and get on the score board, Corrigan acknowledged the victory as an important win in front the record-setting 5,000 fans at Arlotta Stadium. However, moving forward, he said he would like to see the team clean up some of its miscues that occurred Sunday.
“We played so well and so clean last week, I thought last week was as well as we’ve handled the ball all year easily, but then we come out here and mishandle the ball terribly,” Corrigan said. “Really, even halfway through the third quarter we were still fumbling the ball around, throwing passes to guys’ ankles or over their heads. It’s frustrating because you just don’t expect it from a team this deep in the season who have been playing as well as we have been.”
The Irish will have two more opportunities to polish their play before competing in the ACC tournament at the end of the month. Notre Dame will play its final home game of the regular season Wednesday against Marquette at 4 p.m.