Notre Dame bests Michigan in a blowout
R.J. Stempak | Tuesday, February 28, 2017
No. 4 Notre Dame improved its record to 2-0 on a windy afternoon Sunday, defeating Michigan 16-5. The Irish (2-0) showcased unrelenting offense and stalwart defense in the matchup, conceding only one goal in the second half while outshooting the Wolverines 54-21.
Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said his team kept the pressure on Michigan sophomore goalkeeper Tommy Heidt until it was too much for him to handle.
“It was a lot like last week in some ways,” Corrigan said. “We kept a lot of pressure on them, we kept putting balls on cage until the dam burst, like last week. I thought their goalie played very well. I looked up and saw shots were 33-13, but we were only up by a few goals.”
In the first half, Notre Dame got out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the game behind a pair of unassisted goals from junior attack Mikey Wynne, followed by a goal by sophomore attack Ryder Garnsey.
Michigan quickly responded, converting on two goals of its own and cutting the lead to one, the closest the game would get. The Irish closed out the first period strong, with a deep shot converted by sophomore midfielder Drew Schantz followed by a goal from junior midfielder Pierre Byrne.
In the second period, the Irish went up a man multiple times after Wolverine penalties, but were not able to pull away. The game went to halftime with Notre Dame up 7-4.
Out of the locker room, Michigan struck first with a goal in the first two minutes. Less than a minute later, Garnsey connected with sophomore midfielder Timmy Phillips for a goal, and then got his own less than 15 seconds later. Garnsey said that regaining the upper hand was a focus out of the break.
“It was big to come out in the second half and get the momentum back on our side,” Garnsey said. “We didn’t finish the first half as well as we liked to, so we were pushing transition at the start of the second half, and that really put the momentum back on our side.”
After that quick one-two conversion, the floodgates opened for Notre Dame. The Irish did not concede another goal in the game, while adding seven more of their own throughout the half. Irish senior defender Garrett Epple said his defense locked the game down in the second half.
“We let up a few goals early,” Epple said. “We got on our heels a little bit, but we strapped down and started making some saves. [Senior goalkeeper] Shane Doss played really well in the second half and we started guarding people. [Junior defender] John Sexton had a hell of a day, he was all over guys and all over the field. We ended up giving up only one goal in the second half and that was awesome for us. We feel pretty good about today, and we responded pretty well to them scoring a couple goals in the first half.”
Corrigan echoed Epple on the team’s defense, but also pointed to limiting wasted possessions and being flexible to strategic adjustments as keys to the team’s success.
“We did better defensively, which we needed to do,” Corrigan said. “We made some adjustments in the face-off game, which we also needed to do. It’s nice to know that we can be flexible in the game and make the adjustments that we need to make. All in all, it was a good day. I thought we didn’t have a lot of wasted possessions, and that won us the game.”
Garnsey, who led the team in points with two goals and two assists, said the team did not let up, even when earning a 10-goal lead.
“It was important to keep the pressure on today, because their goalie played really well,” Garnsey said. “So maintaining the pressure, getting good shots and using every possession that we had was really important. When you are facing a hot goalie, you know it’s important to keep the pressure on throughout the whole game.”
Sexton and freshman defender Jack Kielty lead the team in ground balls with four each, while 10 different Irish players found the back of the net in the blowout. Phillips was one of five players who scored multiple goals, contributing his first two career goals on Sunday.
Notre Dame begins a tough stretch in its schedule starting with No. 1 Maryland on Saturday at noon at Arlotta Stadium.