Notre Dame looks to take down No. 1 Maryland at home
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, March 3, 2017
It’s that time of the year again.
Last season, No. 4 Notre Dame fell in overtime to then-No. 2 Denver at home. Two years ago, the Irish (2-0) defeated then-No. 1 Syracuse in a 13-12 double-overtime thriller. This year, Notre Dame will get its shot at another top-ranked team when No. 1 Maryland visits Arlotta Stadium on Saturday.
In just four games, the Terrapins (4-0) have established themselves as one of the best offensive teams this season. With wins against Navy and No. 6 Yale, Maryland is averaging 15.5 goals per game, which stands as the seventh-best mark in the country. One of the most impressive feats of its offense thus far is the six goals recorded by its defensemen. It is not conventional to have defensemen scoring as often as Maryland has, but it has contributed to its potent offense four games into the season.
In addition to its versatile defense, Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan has recognized Maryland’s three attackmen as arguably one of the best groups in the country.
“They’re very well-coached,” Corrigan said. “They’re very athletic. They’ve got three extremely skilled attackmen, who I think are probably about as good an attack group as we’ll see this year. They play a very aggressive full-field style, which really just means that you have no relaxing on the field. They’re going to press you and transition.
“They’re going to press out on the defensive end and make you work without the ball. They’re going to be aggressive offensively and kind of a continuous movement style that means you have to constantly work. They’re just a very good team all around and have a style that means you have to play 60 full minutes to beat them.”
While this will be the toughest team Notre Dame has faced this season in terms of ranking, Corrigan said he is confident in his team’s defensive capabilities. After a 16-5 victory over Michigan on Sunday, Irish senior defender Garrett Epple, who ranks 10th in the nation with two caused turnovers per game, was awarded the distinction of co-ACC Defensive Player of the Week.
“That is a collaborative award,” Corrigan said. “That’s something that goes because our defense had a good day. I think Garrett’s doing a nice job. He’s taken a little bit more of our communication or just taking that as more of a responsibility. But when a guy wins a defensive player of the week award, and the way we play, it’s really a recognition of the fact that we had a good day defensively.”
Notre Dame’s defense currently ranks tied for ninth in the country in goals allowed per game, giving up just 7.5 scores per contest.
Going into Saturday’s top-five matchup, Corrigan believes his team has to continue doing what it has done successfully in its first two games. If the Irish can consistently limit their turnovers and play intelligently, Corrigan believes they will be more than prepared to compete with the Terrapins.
“Offensively, we’ve been really, really efficient,” Corrigan said. “We have not had a lot of turnovers. We’ve handled the ball well, and we’ve been smart and patient and still aggressive. We’re getting good shots, ending almost every possession with a good shot. We have been selective about what we’re doing there, so that’s got to continue.
“Defensively, we’re getting minutes for a lot of guys who haven’t had minutes in the past, so to hold a team to five goals with a young group like we have is good. We’ve been doing a good job in the middle of the field. We’ve made good decisions, so we haven’t hurt ourselves there, and that will be a big part of this week’s games. I think all of those things have been positive.”
The Irish will face off against the visiting Terrapins at noon Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.