Notre Dame used a 9-0 first-half burst, accompanied by a career goaltending effort to defeat rival Michigan 17-8 in Ann Arbor. It was the inaugural lacrosse showdown in a sports rivalry begun in 1887. Freshman Mikey Wynne scored four times, while linemate Matt Kavanagh tallied three and set up three. Sophomore goalie Shane Doss recorded a personal high 13 saves in his first start of the year. The third-ranked Irish improved to 2-0.
An early-rising crowd unlocked the doors of Conor O’Neil’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor for the pregame tailgate. There was much a buzz about the gourmet deli sandwiches Vasko and Kristina Perkovic had supplied the team on Friday. Once again, Jane and Geoff Marlatt organized a splendid affair, with the Landis, Collins and Perkovic familites assisting. It was an express event, with folks scurrying out by noon to secure seats in cozy Oosterbaan Field House. Thanks to Charlotte and John Borbi for reserving the midfield section. Tracy Byrne provided timely updates on out of town upsets, played in frigid temperatures and snow. Continued thanks to Liza Near and Rob Kelly for the colorful supply of photos. Lastly, thanks to the boys for opening doors to The Big House. Empty, with much of the field snow covered, it’s still impressive.
The game began with Senior Nick Osello setting the tone, driving his 6-1 frame through two Wolverines in the game’s initial faceoff. While Michigan would leverage the subsequent man-advantage to take a 1-0 lead, Notre Dame got offensive, forcing the Wolverine goalie to make four splendid saves, with two more dingers clanking off pipes. Despite a low scoring quarter, the Irish controlled the tempo. With a little more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, freshman midfielder Brendan Collins scored his first collegiate goal to get the Irish on the board and tie the game at one. Proud parents beamed. Shout outs came from every direction. Following a save up top by Shane Doss, the ball was summoned to Matt Kavanagh, who held court in the right corner with less than 30 seconds remaining. Kavanagh surveyed and with 14 ticks to go, the Irish All-American darted, dodged and flicked and suddenly, it was 2-1 ND after one period. The full house adjacent to the Big House, got quiet.
With the start of the second quarter, Junior Midfielder Cole Ricardi would extend ND’s lead to 3-1. Following another forced turnover, the Irish strung several short passes to reach Mikey Wynne, home alone on the UM doorstep. Poised and clever, Wynne would pull the goalie out of the net with a quick fake before feeding Kavanagh, who waved his stick with one hand, placing the ball magician-like in the back of the net to extend the Irish run. Wynne would be repaid, taking a pass seconds later from Connor Doyle to put Notre Dame up 5-1 with 11:23 remaining in the first half. The play started with a nifty defensive steal by sophomore Bobby Collins. Kavanagh wasn’t done. Tracking down a loose ball in the corner, he lofted a high, arching pass to center fielder Jim Marlaat, who caught the lazy pop fly and quickly ripped a low laser past the Michigan netminder, 6-1 ND! Eddy Lubowicki entered the game and quickly contributed, scoring his first of the year at the eight minute mark. Wynne would strike again, this time on the man advantage before home-grown Sergio Perkovic would finish a 9-0 Irish run with an eight goal lead. Kyle Runyon and Jack Sheridan entered the game at attack and defense, respectively. Michigan would end a 23-minute drought, scoring with 47 seconds remaining. The first half ended with Notre Dame in front, 9-2.
While the offense clicked, the defense stifled, with Michigan struggling to clear. Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Eddy Glazener disrupted movement and intercepted passes. LSM’s Henry Williams and John Sexton denied cutters and collected loose balls. Middies Jack Near, Nick Koshansky and Bobby Collins bumped and poked, keeping Wolverine shooters on the perimeter. A contrast of two offenses – the Irish were buzzing around the net while Michigan shot from downtown. In the second quarter, ND outshot UM 15-7 while forcing five turnovers. The Irish offense converted on 40% of their possessions compared to UM at 21%.
The second half began with Wynne scoring on a pass from Osello. Michigan would answer and threaten again with a two-man advantage. The Irish defense, that now included Pat Healy, was up to the task. With the Michigan trailing 11-5, Connor Doyle extended the lead back to eight, coming from behind the net to tuck one in low while in full flight. Opting not to turn this into a track meet, Michigan slowed the pace on the next few possessions, which the officials welcomed by turning on the 30-second timer. UM would show good ball movement, scoring and closing to 12-6. Enter Kavanagh, from his corner, going right to left, he fired a low to high laser, his third of the day, netting the Irish a 13-6 advantage.
PJ Finley, picking up where he left off from last week, won the ensuing faceoff to close out the quarter. He went 6/8 for the day, with Nick Osello finishing 10/19 and freshman John Travisano winning one out of two.
The fourth quarter began with another crushing hit by Osello and goals by Doyle, Trevor Bosco and Perkovic from downtown. A 16-6 lead brought about a UM goalie switch, which sophomore Anthony Marini greeted with his first collegiate goal. He was the 10th Irish player to score on the day, the 13th player to score this year. Through two games, the Irish have netted 31 goals while allowing 20. Two late Wolverine goals would finish the scoring in a 17-8 victory. Next up for the Irish is Dartmouth on Saturday in South Bend at 1:00. ESPN 3 will broadcast. The Big Green dropped their season opener to Ohio State in Columbus, 15-5. See ya Friday! Go Irish.