Feb 20, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT
The Irish began their regular season slate with a tough test in a road matchup with fourth-ranked Duke. The third-ranked Irish took the field by storm and put on a performance that won’t soon be forgotten. Notre Dame was able to score the first six goals of the game and didn’t look back as it handed the Blue Devils its first loss of the season in blowout fashion, 13-5, after all four quarters.
Junior midfielder Jim Marlatt matched Duke’s scoring all by himself with five total goals and chipped in with an assist as well. “We’ve played Duke a lot in the past. They’ve become our rival. We knew they were athletic, talented, and aggressive, so we had to be patient on offense. We knew we would get our opportunities and it paid off in the first half of the game,” Marlatt said.
Not only did the scoring onslaught occur during the first half, but also throughout the entire contest. The contributions by Marlatt and freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh, who had four goals and an assist in his first college game, just kept coming and Duke’s defense couldn’t neutralize either threat.
“It was cool playing in my first college game, especially a team of the caliber of Duke. We’ve been practicing for five weeks now so it was great to compete against someone else,” Kavanagh said.
This is the fourth straight season-opening victory against Duke for Notre Dame, a tremendous accomplishment considering how highly regarded Duke’s lacrosse program is in the college ranks. Notre Dame’s lacrosse program can now be considered equally elite with how the Irish have been performing over the past few years.
The Irish have been through a grueling offseason and preseason schedule over the past few months in order to be mentally and physically prepared for this matchup in a hostile environment.
“Watching the film really helped to know their tendencies. They liked to be aggressive so we knew we had to move the ball around really quick and not hold onto it,” Kavanagh said.
Heading into this game, many thought that it would come down to which team’s strong defense could hold together and stay cohesive as a unit. The Irish turned out to be in command on the defensive end with their starting d-poles Stephen O’Hara, Matt Miller, and Brian Buglione, which turned into long possession times and offensive opportunities.
“We really took our time and broke down the opposing defense. Coach [Kevin Corrigan] said we were going to have great opportunities to hold onto the ball for over 40 seconds. Our goals came off of long possessions where we controlled the ball,” Kavanagh said.
Notre Dame turned the heat up early, netting eight goals in the first half and attacked with intensity for five in the second half. The midwinter weather didn’t faze the group as the Irish weathered the storm and continued to make positive plays.
“All the goals were a product of good offense. Most of them were assisted and we were able to move the ball well and handle pressure. It was really fun to play in the snow and feed off of each other’s energy. It was a good team win,” Marlatt said.
Next up for the 1-0 Irish will be another away battle with Penn State in University Park, Pa., where the Irish look to avenge a previous defeat.
“It’s good to get the first win under our belts. We were confident but we didn’t know how good we would actually be until we hit the field. It’s still early in the season and we lost to Penn State last year so we are very focused on not letting that happen again,” Marlatt said.
The rematch with Penn State will start with the opening faceoff on Sunday at noon before the Irish return home for the opener at Arlotta Stadium against Duke’s in-state rival, UNC, on Mar. 2.
If the Irish are able to focus on the task at hand and execute the game plan Coach Kevin Corrigan designs, they should have no trouble continuing to win games in the early part of this season.
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