Irish head to California for top-10 matchup against Denver
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, March 7, 2019
No. 9 Notre Dame will head west to take on No. 7 Denver on Saturday in Costa Mesa, Calif. in the Pacific Coast Shootout. This marks the second time the two teams have met in the Shootout, the first time being back in 2014 — which began an extended run that saw the Pioneers win seven of their last eight meetings with Notre Dame.
The Irish (2-1), led by senior midfield Brendan Gleason and junior midfield Bryan Costabile, enter Saturday’s matchup with momentum, having topped then-second ranked Maryland last weekend in overtime. Gleason set the tone for the Irish, scoring a game-high four goals on six attempts to go along with one assist for a season-high five points. He was named ACC Offensive Player of the Week for this efforts. Gleason was joined by junior attack Brian Willetts and sophomore attack Connor Morin, who each chipped in three goals. Going forward, Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan will likely turn to these veterans come Saturday in a highly anticipated matchup.
The Irish and the Pioneers (4-1) met twice last season, with Corrigan’s team taking the regular-season matchup in March, only to then fall 9-7 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In that game, Notre Dame fought back from an early 2-0 deficit after Denver struck twice in the first five minutes. With both teams tied up at six heading into the final quarter, the Irish took a one-goal lead with over 11 minutes remaining, only to have the Pioneers respond with three goals of their own to seal the victory and punch their ticket to the next round of play. Willetts and Costabile were the only returning members of last year’s team that registered points in that box score — recording an assist and two goals, respectively. Denver went on to drop their following quarterfinal matchup against Albany.
This season, the Pioneers have built an impressive offensive unit behind junior attack Ethan Walker, freshman attack Ellis Geis and sophomore midfield Jack Hannah, all of which have reached double-digit points through five games. Walker, the team’s leading scorer last season, already has 13 goals and five assists for a team-high 18 points. The 5-foot-9 product of Peterborough, Ontario, has given the Irish trouble in the past — having recorded three goals in the NCAA matchup, and scoring on all five of his shot attempts back in the regular-season meeting in March.
The Irish and Pioneers will face off at Lebard Stadium on the campus of Orange Coast College. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.