Notre Dame takes down two top-10 opponents over spring break
Benjamin Padanilam | Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Entering spring break, No. 4 Notre Dame was coming off its first loss of the season to No. 2 Maryland.
By the end, the Irish (4-1, 1-0 ACC) had themselves a two-game win streak against top-10 opponents.
Notre Dame started its spring break action off with a matchup against No. 5 Denver on March 10 at Arlotta Stadium. Coming into the contest on the heels of a loss in its previous game, Corrigan said in an interview with The Observer that the team would need more production from the duo of sophomore midfielder Bryan Costabile and junior attack Brendan Gleason, who were held pointless in the 12-10 loss to the Terrapins (6-1, 0-0 Big Ten).
And the Irish got just that from the duo against the Pioneers (5-2, 0-0 Big East). Costabile and Gleason combined for three goals in the first quarter, as the Irish jumped out to an early 6-1 lead heading into the second. Gleason would score three more goals the rest of the way to give him four on the day, and Costabile would add another goal late in the game to complete his own hat trick and bring an end to the Pioneers’ comeback effort, sealing the 11-9 victory for the Irish. The defense also had arguably its best effort of the season to that point, becoming the first team to hold the Pioneers to less than 10 goals in a game this season.
A week later in their matchup with No. 9 Virginia, the Irish would follow the same formula: jump out to a quick start and put forth a strong defensive effort. In the first five minutes of action, the Irish stormed to a 4-0 lead.
“We were trying to come out the gates really hot,” Costabile said of the team’s start against the Cavaliers (6-2, 0-2 ACC). “We know that we came out [against] Denver and we were just putting it to them right then, and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. And we wanted to do the same here, so we tried to get out to an early lead and we came out firing, just doing the things that we know how to do and it ended up working out.”
However, the Cavaliers would slowly climb back into the game. Sophomore attack Michael Kraus put the weight of the Virginia offense on his shoulders, scoring four consecutive goals in the first and second period to tie the game at 4-4.
“Kid’s just a good player,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said of Kraus. “I coached his uncle and I played with his father, so I’ve known the Kraus family for a long time, and I’m a dumbass because he’s not on our team right now, because that kid can play. I hate that we have to play against him for two more years.”
Though Gleason and Costabile would score two goals to give the Irish a 6-4 halftime advantage, the Cavaliers would climb back yet again with three consecutive goals, taking their first lead of the game into the fourth quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, the Irish defense stood its ground once again, holding the Cavaliers scoreless over the game’s final 15 minutes. And senior attack Mikey Wynne took care of the rest, scoring his third and fourth goals of the game — the fourth of which pushed him into fifth place on the school’s all-time goals leaderboard — to give Notre Dame a lead it would not relinquish. Wynne said the go-ahead score was the result of his strong relationship with junior attack Ryder Garnsey, with whom he executed the two-man game perfectly.
“Ryder wanted a pick at [goal-line extended], and he just kind of gave me a look, and I was like ‘Alright, he’s definitely going to say something,’” Wynne said of the go-ahead goal. “So I ran over, and as I was running by … he said, ‘[goal-line extended, goal-line extended],’ so I kind of knew what he was talking about. I looped back around, set the [goal-line] pick, he came off hard and then I kind of went to the backside, and he had a beautiful look to me.”
Over the game’s final minute, the Cavaliers desperately tried to even the score, but senior long-stick midfielder John Sexton twice took the ball away from his matchup with stick checks to jar the ball loose and secure the 9-7 victory for Notre Dame. Sexton was an All-American last season, but an injury caused him to miss valuable time in the preseason and he’s been slow to make the same impact he did last year. But Corrigan said Sexton showed he’s back to being “game ready” against the Cavaliers.
“He wasn’t ready a month ago, but he’s there now,” Corrigan said. “Obviously, he’s an awfully big player for us, so it’s good to see him make some plays tonight.”
Now, as the Irish prepare for a midweek matchup with Michigan, they will do so coming off two consecutive ranked wins. And because of that, the Irish have a lot of confidence with where they are as a team at this point in the season, though they also concede that they are not where they want to be come the end of the season either.
“This is one of those games [where] it wasn’t pretty, it was just gritty,” Corrigan said of the win over Virginia on Saturday. “We needed one of those. The last two weekends, we’ve played really, really good lacrosse. We didn’t play that well tonight, but we played really gritty, so it’s nice to know we can do both of those things. We can play pretty and we can play gritty, and that’s a good place to be.”
“It feels awesome,” Costabile said of the team’s mindset going forward. “I’m really, really looking forward to the rest of the season, where I think we’re getting better every week. And if we continue to get better, we’re definitely going to make it to championship weekend in May.”
The Irish will next take the field Wednesday against Michigan at Arlotta Stadium. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.