Notre Dame readies to take on No. 4 Denver
Benjamin Padanilam | Thursday, March 8, 2018
Coming off its first loss of the season, No. 11 Notre Dame will look to bounce back against another ranked opponent when it returns to the friendly confines of Arlotta Stadium, this time taking on No. 4 Denver.
The Irish (2-1) suffered a 12-10 defeat to No. 2 Maryland on Saturday in what was the team’s first road game of the season. Offensively, they were led by junior attack Ryder Garnsey, who came off the bench and scored four goals while also tallying an assist, and senior attack Mikey Wynne, who tallied two goals and two assists himself in the losing effort.
However, two players the Irish did not receive much production from Saturday were junior attack Brendan Gleason and sophomore midfielder Bryan Costabile. Costabile entered the game — and remains atop the leaderboard — as the team’s leading scorer with seven goals and two assists in the team’s previous two games, but he was held without a point on three shots and had two turnovers. Gleason, however, did not register a shot or assist in the contest, and he entered the game as the team’s second-leading scorer with four goals and four assists.
Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said after the game that while the two players did a good job not forcing things offensively, he would have still liked to have seen more production from them given the circumstances of the game against an elite opponent.
“I thought we did a pretty good job offensively, but again, [it is] an area we can get better at,” Corrigan said Sunday. “I mean, Bryan Costabile didn’t score; Brendan Gleason didn’t score. I think [Maryland] played to defend those guys, and so sometimes what can get you in trouble is those guys caring about them scoring and taking us out of our offense when the defense was designed to keep them from scoring. So I think they did a good job of staying within what we were doing, but we still would like to get some production from them on a day like that.”
Another area the Irish struggled in their loss Saturday was on faceoffs and groundballs — the Irish lost 16 of the game’s 24 faceoffs and were at a 23-13 disadvantage in ground balls. Corrigan said this put the Irish behind in the possession game and made it difficult to mount their offense.
“I mean, it’s tough to get ground balls when their faceoff guy is picking up the ball before your wings can even become involved,” Corrigan said Sunday. “And in too many cases, that was the case.”
Things won’t get any easier for Notre Dame this Saturday, however, as the Pioneers (4-1) possess one of the college game’s best faceoff specialists in Trevor Baptiste. The senior has won 78.1 percent of his faceoffs and has picked up 54 ground balls this season, both the second-best marks in the country. Baptiste also ranked first and second in faceoff percentage and ground balls, respectively, last season.
A final area of interest will be the matchup of Notre Dame’s defense and Denver’s offense. The Pioneers have scored at least 10 goals in all five of their games played this season, led by sophomore attack Ethan Walker, who has 17 goals — good for the fourth-best mark in the country — and nine assists to lead the way for the Pioneers.
On the other side, the Irish have a freshman in goal in Matt Schmidt, and he has struggled at times this season — he ranks 42nd in the country in save percentage at 47.8 percent, allowing 24 goals against 22 saves. Last game, the Irish made a switch in goal, going to senior Owen Molloy in the third quarter after Schmidt gave up 10 goals with just seven saves in 40 minutes. Molloy had four saves and allowed just two goals in his 20 minutes of action. Despite making the switch, Corrigan reiterated his confidence in Schmidt after the defeat, though he also said he feels Molloy is a terrific goalie as well.
Notre Dame and Denver will take the field Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.