No. 2 Notre Dame falls to Denver before defeating Virginia in overtime
Benjamin Padanilam | Wednesday, March 22, 2017
No. 2 Notre Dame split its two road games over spring break, falling to then-No. 5 Denver before rebounding with an overtime win against No. 15 Virginia.
The Irish (4-1, 1-0 ACC) played the first of their two games March 12 in Denver against the Pioneers (5-2, 0-0 Big East).
The two teams traded goals throughout the contest, as neither led by more than two goals in the contest and the game came down to the closing seconds. After scoring the game’s tying goal with 2:51 remaining in the fourth quarter, Denver scored the deciding goal when Pioneer senior attack Connor Cannizzaro scored a diving goal with just one second left on the clock to secure the 11-10 victory.
Seven of the last eight games the Irish and Pioneers have played against one another have been decided by a goal or ended in a tie. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said the excellence of both programs has naturally led to the competitive nature of their games.
“I just think it’s two very good teams; two teams that know each other and don’t make it easy on each other,” Corrigan said. “All those games have been meaningful games, so there’s just not a lot of easy plays to be made and not a lot of separation between the two teams.”
And although the game ended with Notre Dame’s first loss of the season, Corrigan said the game taught his team the same lesson every game on Notre Dame’s schedule does: the importance of preparation and execution.
“There are certainly things that come out of every game, whether you win or lose, that you want to get better at,” Corrigan said. “I don’t know that losing gave us any particular lesson that day other than the sense of urgency that you have to have, because every game there’s very thin margins out there between teams, and you have to be prepared every week. Then, you have to go out there and do it on Saturday, no matter how well you prepared. I think that’s a lesson that we know and a lesson that we learned once again.”
For their next game, the Irish traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to battle the Cavaliers (5-3, 0-2 ACC) on Saturday. Unlike in its loss to Denver, Notre Dame was able to jump out to an early advantage in the first half, taking a 7-4 lead into halftime despite being outshot 25-14 through two periods.
In the second half, however, the Irish struggled offensively, only scoring three goals in regulation while allowing the Cavaliers to score five in the third quarter and a sixth in the fourth to force overtime. Corrigan said he thought his team had a breakdown defensively that Virginia was able to take advantage of, and though he did not elaborate on what it was, he said the team has made a concerted effort to address it.
“There was one thing that they scored three goals on that is something that we need to work on and be better at,” Corrigan said. “It’s something that we wouldn’t have thought would have been an issue, but it was. I’m not going to spell out what it was, but it was something that we’ve addressed and will continue to address.”
In the overtime period, the Irish were able to regain control of the game. They held the Cavaliers without a shot in the period and took three of their own, with the third ending the game when Irish sophomore attack Ryder Garnsey beat Cavalier freshman goalie Griffin Thompson to secure the 11-10 overtime victory for Notre Dame.
Corrigan said he was pleased with his team’s first half performance, but he thought it underperformed in the second half.
“I thought, in the first half, we were pretty good,” Corrigan said. “And in the second half, we just weren’t. We didn’t protect the ball, we didn’t make the plays that we had a chance to make, we had too many shots that I thought were great shots that we’re not putting away and then too many turnovers. We went from scoring on four of our last five possessions at the end of the second quarter to five straight turnovers at the start of the third quarter, so you can’t have that kind of inefficiency.”
The Irish will next take the field Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host No. 4 Ohio State at Arlotta Stadium.