Mar 11, 2013, 8:09 PM EDT
Both Irish Lacrosse teams took the field on Saturday to display their perfection in front of the home crowd but only one came out unscathed. The men’s team represented the early game facing off against a fourth straight ranked opponent with #15 Hofstra coming to town.
The second-ranked Irish were in trouble from the get go, allowing three goals in the first quarter and were unable to take a lead throughout the game. Notre Dame took a tie into halftime but fell behind again in the third and couldn’t create enough offense to avoid an 8-7 defeat.
This was an extremely difficult loss for the Irish because everything was right in front of them to execute and pull out a close victory. Notre Dame won the battle for ground balls 27-25. The Irish also outshot Hofstra 37-33 and although Hofstra won a majority of the face-offs at center field (12-6), Notre Dame’s opponent also turned the ball over 17 times. Hofstra contained freshman phenom Matt Kavanagh, allowing only three shots and zero goals or assists. This allowed fellow attackman Conor Doyle to burst onto the scene as a bright spot for the Irish with three goals on seven shots. Notre Dame will go where its key players take the team this season and it was a tough day for two leaders, junior middie Jim Marlatt and senior attackman Sean Rogers. Marlatt managed one goal on ten shot attempts and Rogers scored late in the fourth with less than a minute left to cut the lead to one, but was otherwise bottled up on four shot attempts.
The Irish can take plenty of lessons away from a performance where they came up just short from carrying on perfection. First off, the Irish need to develop a constant closer mentality to follow through whenever they have an opportunity to win a tight game. Notre Dame was down 6-5 heading into the fourth quarter and with this team’s heart and stick-to-itiveness displayed in gritty wins against North Carolina and Penn State, among others, a comeback victory was highly attainable. It is early enough in the season where a loss to a quality opponent won’t hurt the team too much, but it is probably one of the team’s goals to win most, if not all, of its games in Arlotta. The Irish now have a 4-1 record overall and a 1-1 home record. Notre Dame needs to take care of goalie John Kemp and keep the ball on the offensive side of the field. The midfielders play a key part in this by winning face-offs and earning possessions while running to each side on the field to set up the offensive sets or to clear the ball. The more ball movement to create shots the Irish can develop, the better for how the team plays as an entire unit.
Notre Dame next plays at Denver (Saturday, Mar. 16 at 6:30 pm ET on ESPN3) to look for a rebound win to get back on track. The Irish will probably drop down in this week’s polls but have an opportunity to get a boost of confidence with a road win.
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