Forever Irish

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Forty four years past, a second-generation Italian father of seven, steered his family’s borrowed Winnebago on a pilgrimage long overdue.  Sunday morning Notre Dame football highlights with Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung were special, but attending a live game had been promised. After knocking down two basketball poles while backing out of the driveway in New Jersey, the family arrived safely in South Bend, Indiana on Thursday, November 21, 1973.   A day of tours, book store visits, campus walks, a pep rally and introductions to Athletics Director Moose Krause, Football Coach Ara Parseghian and Basketball Coach Digger Phelps was unforgettable.  My father revisited his football glory days, striking a Heisman pose as the Notre Dame band marched across campus. Saturday’s football game featured a 48-15 grounding of Air Force. The trip’s only disappointment was learning that Rock Knutne was not attending.  Knute Rockne had past away 42 years earlier.

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A few brothers returned to campus with their families for the first time since 1973. Great to beat Carolina.

My father begged each of us into our high school years, “One of you has to get into Notre Dame.”  Fairfield, Delaware, Georgia, Drexel, Rowan and Towson State, but nothing close to South Bend.  Hearing this story repeatedly, my eight-year old son piped up one day, “I’ll go to Notre Dame dad.” This past Friday night, he graduated with 12 lacrosse teammates, concluding four years of a Notre Dame experience never to be forgotten.  This, my final blog, is intended to say thank you to many, but particularly my dad and my son.

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Lax House residents left to right Carter, Koshansky, Finley, Marini, Miliken, Collins and Sheridan. Post game celebrations at the House brought families together, often on the dance floor.

Tim Brenneman created this blog in July of 2011 to provide the lacrosse families a means of communication and community.  Reading Tim’s blogs, you quickly see how timeless and precious the Notre Dame experience is. I was honored he selected me to carry it forward. Three years later, I’ve had the good fortune to meet Irish nation while watching my son experience Notre Dame and play lacrosse. Each year, the nation’s most difficult schedule required national travel – to home games and away, in some of the game’s most storied venues. Above the wins and losses, miles flown and driven, are people that made it a journey to remember. I’ve tried to capture it all in this blog, which has now responded to 107,162 hits.  During lax season, there’s more than 700 knocks on the door a week. Notre Dame’s Parent Nation is as vibrant as ever, thank you for reading.  Thanks Tim. I suspect Liza and John Near had something to do with this as well.

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Two icons from parent nation, Tim Brenneman (left) and Rob Kelly.

Last Saturday’s loss to Denver in the NCAA quarterfinals was surreal. Overcast on Long Island, it wasn’t warm or cold. The announced crowd at James Shuart Stadium at Hofstra was 10,117, but the arena felt sparse. Denver played well, but 18 turnovers suggest far from perfect. When we trailed 2-1 at the end of one quarter, we were close, yet there was concern. Looking around,  parent nation was scattered and out of sync. Efforts to cheer and spark were benign.  Our time was expiring. A precious gift was being transferred. The 16-4 loss would have permanence. Seniors were thanked and then stepped aside. The post game bonding was cut short. A tailgate celebration cancelled. Goodbyes were rushed and incomplete. Preseason in Sarasota was 13 weeks ago, yet in a snap it was over.  A senior season and four years at Notre Dame had come to an end. Where did the time pass and what would I remember?

The wine cellar at LaSalle Grille would be empty before I recounted all of the tales and characters of our four years.  A few I’ll never forget…..

Prior to the 2014 ACC Semifinals in Philadelphia, a soft-spoken parent, who’s sons had already graduated, introduced himself,  advising me to make every game.  “Support your son regardless of contribution. If they’re on the team, they contribute.”  Bob Kemp fathered three All-American lacrosse goalies, two at Notre Dame. He suffered a heart attack two weeks later and passed. His presence is missed, but his spirit lives. Today, The Annual Bob Kemp Classic celebrates Bob’s legacy while honoring those with a notable commitment to faith, family and athletics. In four years, I missed four games.  Earning a spot on the Notre Dame roster is a privilege without guarantees.  Embrace the opportunity.

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Bob Kemp’s legacy endures

Six days after getting thrashed by #5 Maryland at Arlotta Stadium, #9 ND returned the favor in our first ACC Tournament. Trailing all game, Conor Doyle tied it with two minutes remaining.  Then freshman Garrett Epple stripped an All-American, which Jack Near collected and raced the length of the field, dishing to Matt Kavanagh in stride.  Kav can finish and did with seven seconds remaining on a rainy night in Philly.  Conor Kelly had 12 saves. We advanced to Sunday’s title game where we defeated Syracuse in a thriller. In a flash, we went from ACC and NCAA Tournament elimination to ACC Tournament Champion, NCAA Tournament Automatic Qualifier and ultimately, national runner-up.  Relive the ACC Title here….ND versus Syracuse 2014 ACC Title

Losing by five goals with eight minutes remaining in the 2014 NCAA Quarterfinals, the Irish staged a comeback for the ages.  Playing at Hofstra University, Albany was the favorite of a sellout crowd of 13,519. A 4-0 Irish lead was washed away by Sports Center Top 10 plays produced by a talented Thompson trio.  ND alum Eamon McAnaney called the game for ESPN, proclaiming “Albany packing for Baltimore” and The Final Four. But an Irish 10-man ride forced seven turnovers in nine minutes.  Everyone contributed to push the game into overtime.  Conor Kelly saved one off his head before Matt Kavanagh, playing in his hometown, ended it in overtime. I’ve watched the highlights 30 times.    You can watch it here…..ND versus Albany, 2014

Drama was the norm at Arlotta Stadium, including two epic games played sophomore year. On the heels of shutting out Ohio State, the #2 Irish hosted #1 ranked Syracuse on a sunny, but brisk Saturday game broadcast on ESPNU. Leading by six, Notre Dame saw the Orange fight back, taking their first lead with 1:02 remaining. PJ Finley tied it in the final minute and Jack Near won it in double overtime, stripping Cuse of their top ranking. Nine different players scored with goalie Shane Doss registering 12 saves. We lit Grace Hall. Three weeks later, an overflow crowd saw the top ranked Irish score three goals in the final 1:15, to defeat #2 North Carolina.  The game included 10 ties and six lead changes. Matt Kavanagh’s winner came with 0:07 remaining. Highlights of both games can be seen here.  Notre Dame versus Syracuse Highlights                Notre Dame versus Carolina highlights

The Network – One of a kind, Notre Dame is a global institution who’s alumni care deeply and contribute immensely. The team’s annual networking trip to New York for the juniors is an example. Fifteen companies are visited in two days. Seeds are planted, internships are incubated. Full-time jobs are secured in the fall. Nothing handed, but plenty of support offered. Who else has 50+ players show up for an alumni game in the rain on a Sunday in the Bronx? Or enjoys dinner at the homes of Dick Vitale and Dan Connors or engage alumni speakers such as Tom Mendoza, Jimmy Dunn, Bill Hanzlik or Jimmy Keenan!  Thanks for the continued support of the team, on the field and off.

My glass is near empty, so I’ll condense a few years……The tailgates in Baltimore prior to the national semifinal game versus Maryland and the Championship versus Duke were spectacular, thanks Jane and Geoff Marlatt. Rival events included two tailgates at Army, thanks to Kevin and Grace Doyle and Terry Doss this past year….. Paul and Liz Finley were sensational this year, coordinating tailgates from Dallas to Denver, South Bend to Durham, thank you… Defeating Syracuse in The Carrier Dome 17-7 while they celebrated the program’s 100 years was special….Defeating Duke twice in Durham and Virginia twice in Charlottesville was neat…. This year, we defeated both NCAA Championship combatants, Ohio State and Maryland, at Arlotta. We never trailed in either game….. Seeing Grace Hall illuminated with the #1 each time the team ascended to the top ranking was very cool….Playing in Dallas at the Ford Center at The Star, The Dallas Cowboy’s training facility and twice in Southern California was like royalty……Mass at the Basilica….The Holy Half that was snowed out as we walked to the starting line, The Ivy Court, The Linebacker, Corndance, Runs across campus with Rob Kelly and Lubo….Vasko’s grappa, Jack’s Guinness. Paul’s speaker and John Borbi’s texts…..and then there’s Lucy’s proud smile at each game. Each provokes a story, that gets grander with each rendition. Thank you all!

 

Special thanks to Rob Kelly, John Marchese, Kathy Koshansky, Terry Doss and Bobbie Arlotta who captured our photographs. They traveled, shot, edited and posted weekly. Robby Hamman and John Heisler from ND’s athletic office enabled their field access. Grazie.  My dad introduced me to ND at an early age. My son has ensured I’ll be Irish forever. For the two of them and my wife Julie, who supported me while leading Parent Nation, thank you. I’ve enjoyed the ride and wish John Borbi. your next blogger, the wind at his back and the sun shine warm upon his face. Until we meet again, may God hold all of you in the palm of his hand.  Go Irish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Game

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Denver captured 21 consecutive face offs, controlling possessions, pace and progression in a 16-4 NCAA quarterfinal win over Notre Dame in Hempstead, NY.

Four consecutive one-goal battles, including three determined in overtime…. A rematch of a March game where the winning goal was scored with 0:00 on the clock….A Notre Dame senior class looking to defeat Denver for the first time in five tries…..A  senior class looking to win their eighth NCAA Tournament game, while securing their third Final Four trip in four years, both would tie school records…. The #4 seed versus #5….. A Hofstra University Stadium where the Irish last played before a crowd of 13,000, winning an epic come-from behind game to earn a trip to the Final Four….Win and advance to Boston, lose and end your season, sending seniors to the showers for the last time….All were story lines for Saturday’s NCAA Quarterfinal match up between #4 Notre Dame and #5 Denver….All were forgotten early in a stunning  16-4 Denver victory before a crowd of 10,117.

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Mikey Wynne scored three, capping his third 30-goal season.

After winning the game’s initial face off and posting the game’s first goal, Notre Dame went 37 minutes without scoring, enabling an unprecedented 11-0 Pioneer run.  An Irish drought that began with 11:30 remaining in the first quarter, ended with 4:38 remaining in the third.  Leading 2-1, Denver secured 21 consecutive face offs to control possession, pace and strategy.  They burned three minutes of

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Sergio Perkovic finished his career with 111 goals, the most of any Irish midfielder.

 

 

 

 

clock per possession, patiently rotating the ball to get goals from eight different scorers.  Mikey Wynne scored three times for Notre Dame, while Shane Doss posted seven saves in 48 minutes and Junior Owen Molloy made four saves in 12 minutes. Garrett Epple was brilliant on defense, scooping up seven ground balls and causing five turnovers. An abrupt departure from this rivalry’s history served as the final game for an accomplished senior class.

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PJ Finley battled the game’s top face off specialist

The weekend began with senior parents streaming into Long Island from California, Maryland, New Jersey, Long Island, Charlotte, Detroit and Atlanta Thursday night into Friday. With Notre Dame’s graduation scheduled for Sunday, logistics for the parents made attending those ceremonies near impossible. As a result, the school, coaches and parents produced a graduation ceremony on Friday night at Hofstra University’s Helene Fortunoff Theater.  Senior Associate Athletics Director John Heisler facilitated through the powers vested in him….. Coach Kevin Corrigan commended a unified graduating class before introducing the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Jimmy Keenan.

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Graduate student Jack Sheridan, Coach Kevin Corrigan and Jimmy Kennan at Friday’s graduation.

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ND Alum Jimmy Keenan

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1998 Notre Dame graduate, Keenan is currently Managing Director and Head of Blackrock’s Global Operating Committee. He leads the strategy for Global Fundamental Credit. Prior to joining BlackRock in 2004, he was a Senior High Yield Trader at Columbia Management Group. He began his investment career at UBS Global Asset Management where he was a Trader and Research Analyst from 1998 through 2003.

A two-time captain, Keenan became a starter for Notre Dame lacrosse midway through his freshman season. He led the Irish in scoring as a sophomore and senior. The Floral Park, New York native helped the Irish to three NCAA Tournament appearances and three Great Western Lacrosse League titles from 1995-98.  He was a three-time honorable mention All-American.  He is active in the team’s annual networking trip to New York.  Highlights of Keenan’s comments and the 13 seniors receiving their diplomas can be seen here.  Notre Dame Lacrosse Graduation

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Lax House residents Carter, Koshansky, Finley, Marini, Miliken, Collins and Sheridan.

A senior dinner in Long Island for a party of 44 followed, hastily put together by Bill and Lisa Koshansky.  Cafe Formaggio sectioned off a cozy corner where Italian fare, followed by cannoli, Limoncello and grappa enabled us to come together and give thanks.  A mighty tailgate on Saturday morning reinforced what ND Lacrosse represents.

Food from local legends, spirits and brews from many lands, music mixed with Irish classics and of course, Irish fans representing classes present and past.  Thanks to Bob Rogers for helping with the set up. It was great to see alum parents Liza and John Near, Ed and Beth Lubowicki and Tim Brennamen, who began this blog six years ago. Eamon McAnaney, still one of ND and college lacrosse’s great ambassadors, joined us along with other former players Regis McDermott, Steve O’Hara, Tyler Brenneman, Cole Riccardi, Kyle Ripp, Brian Buglione, Westy Hopkins, Matty Collins, Matt Kavanagh, Trevor Brosco, Eddy Lubowicki and Thomas Stephan.  Jarron Jones, a former ND lacrosse house resident and football player, was also on hand.

With Ohio State finishing off Duke in the day’s first quarterfinal, Irish nation gathered on a cool, overcast day in James Shuart Stadium.  Will Young led the team onto the field, working the bag pipes like Eddy Glazener before him. Folks were still settling in as the opening face off got us started.  Shoveled backward by Denver’s Trevor Baptiste, Garrett Epple stepped in and collected the loose ball and the Irish had their first face-off win and possession.  Notre Dame got on the board first, when Sergio Perkovic went to net, dodging left and feathering a pass to Mikey Wynne on the crease.

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Garrett Epple caused five turnovers and collected seven ground balls.

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Shane Doss saved 51% of shots faced.

Wynne finished with a shot down low and ND was off to a preferred start, 1-0. Denver would counter two minutes later, to square the game at 1-1. After Brendan Gleason rang a shot off the post, the Pioneers would take the lead.  Following a lengthy possession with little opportunity,  Denver struck from behind the net on what appeared to be an innocent dodge. Somehow, a quick shot rush snuck by goalie Shane Doss for a 2-1 Pioneer lead they would not relinquish.  The quarter ended with the Irish leading in shots (7-5) after forcing five Denver turnovers.  Yet unable to get quality looks. Still, a one-goal game, like the past seven of eight.

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Pat Healy started all 15 games.

Quarter two was reminiscent of the Army game, where an early ND lead evaporated courtesy of an opposing string of goals. Denver struck three minutes in with a methodical and patient, if not dull attack. But shots opened and they scored. Winning 7/7 faceoffs, it was like school-yard make it/take it despite a valiant Irish effort. The result was a disheartening s 6-0 second quarter run, securing control of the game and the air out of the stadium.  The Pioneers registered 14 shots with the Irish being held without a shot for the first time this year.  With possessions at a premium, ND’s offense became more tentative, while the defense tired and Pioneers charged. The half ended with Denver leading 8-1 and Doss battling to make four saves in the quarter.  Possessions were paramount and those ND secured did not produce.

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Senior Ben Pridemore reverses field.

Trailing Albany 11-1 in the Tournament’s opening round, North Carolina neutralized a face-off specialist also winning 70% of his face offs to spur a 9-0 run and climb within three goals late in the fourth quarter.  On Saturday, the second half opened with both teams earning possession, then turning it over twice before the Pioneers took control. Denver would go on to score the first three goals of the period, expanding their lead to 11-1 and discouraging any thoughts of a Carolina-like rally.  ND took two shots to Denver’s 11.  Mikey Wynne’s goal with 4:38 left in the third would end a 37 minute drought and a 11-0 Pioneer run, bringing the score to 11-2. The Pioneers added two more to close out the third quarter 13-2.  Combining the second and third quarter, Denver out shot Notre Dame 25-2, with the Pioneer goalie not required to make a save.

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Bobby Gray scored six goals this year.

Shane Doss was relieved in the fourth, ending the senior captain’s stellar career.   Three goals by Denver expanded the lead to a gaudy 16-2. Goals by captain Sergio Perkovic and Mikey Wynne would close out the scoring at 16-4 and the careers of senior captains Nick Koshansky and Anthony Marini.  Garrett Epple finished with an All-American day, picking up seven ground balls and causing five turnovers. Seniors PJ Finley, Pat Healy, Ben Pridemore, Bobby Collins, Bobby Gray and Chris Carter won 44 games including seven NCAA Tournament contests. They also earned an NCAA  Championship runner-up, two Final Four and two quarterfinal appearances. As freshman, they won the program’s first ACC Tournament Championship.  They advanced to the ACC Championship two of four years. Individually,  they earned post graduate scholarships, All-American, All-Conference and Player of  The Week Honors.  They now join all-start rosters on Capitol Hill and at Credit Suisse, Microsoft, Riverside, JLL, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, Sandler O’Neil & Partners and Blue Star as full-time employees.  Congratulations!  We’ll start plans for a fall reunion  shortly.

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Bobby Collins didn’t miss a game all year.

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Senior Captain Anthony Marini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For this team, the season included convincing wins over Final Four participants Maryland and Ohio State, along with Tournament participants Duke, Carolina and Marquette twice.  They were two one-goal losses from claiming the Tournament’s top seed despite playing the nation’s toughest schedule. Grace Hall was lit twice by the nation’s #1 ranking. Memories that began in sunny Florida and Texas, stretched through chilly Denver, soggy Virginia, overcast South Bend, hot Durham and majestic West Point.  Savor the memories and the characters, there were plenty.  It was The End Game we didn’t expect.  Highlights of Saturday’s contest can be found here…  Notre Dame/Denver Highlights.

My thanks to Kathy Koshansky, John Marchese and Terry Doss for the photos.  They were outstanding all year. Special thanks to Robby Hamman and John Heisler in the ND Athletics Office. They enable access to the field and fun facts.  Forever indebted.

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Senior Captain Nick Koshansky.

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Chris Carter showed versatility in the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations, thank you and best of luck to our seniors.  God Bless and Go Irish!  A farewell blog to come…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Irish Tailgate

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Gates open at 8:00 am for Saturday’s NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Quartefinals being played at Hofstra University. The Notre Dame Tailgate will be in the same location as three years ago, on Dome Road adjacent to the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.  We expect to be set up by 9:00.  A map illustrating our location is below – see the yellow arrow.     See ya Saturday!  Go Irish!

Hofstra Tailgate Location

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Relentless

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Brendan Gleason was relentless going to net, scoring five goals on six shots. His team followed, scoring 15 goals on 35 shots, a season best 43% versus a season average of 32%.

Brendan Gleason took his team’s first possession of the game directly to goal two minutes into the contest and scored. Fourteen more goals would follow, as Notre Dame defeated Big East Conference Tournament Champion Marquette 15-9 on Sunday in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament at Arlotta Stadium. Gleason tied the school NCAA Tournament record with five goals, while Brendan Collins contributed a personal-best four goals and goalie Shane Doss posted 12 saves.  Garrett Epple, Pat Healy and Hugh Crance led a defensive gauntlet that limited the Golden Eagles to four first half goals. The fourth-seeded Irish (9-5) advanced to the quarterfinals for the eighth consecutive year and will battle fifth-seeded Denver Saturday in Hempstead, New York.  The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 2:30 pm.

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Yard Sale! Garrett Epple removes the stick of  Marquette’s leading scorer. He caused two turnovers and collected three ground balls.

Gleason led the way, charging the net to collect his third consecutive hat trick. His five goals, follows a four-goal performance last week at Army and a hat trick against Carolina the weekend before. He scored twice as a freshman.  In addition to Gleason and Collins, props went to freshman Eric Restic who moved back to close defense, senior Chris Carter, who dazzled with a short stick at defensive middie and Timmy Phillips, who moved back to defensive middie.

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Brendan Collins scored on 4/5 shooting.

Returning from injury, Sergio Perkovic, Ryder Garnsey and PJ Finley each contributed in defeating Marquette a sixth time without a loss.  Notre Dame is now 8-1 in hosting NCAA Tournament games, winning their last seven.

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Senior Chris Carter showed versatility, playing D. Middie and Close Defense.

The Kielty’s hosted parent nation on Saturday evening, with a memorable barbecue. The full slate of Tournament games was keenly watched.  Tom Willetts and Tom Hyland were masterful on the grill.  The Tortellini salad was scrumptious. A nightcap at Mulligans featured line dancing and several contested games of corn hole.  Vasko Perkovic heated up, but left four bags hanging on the rim on a final shot. He was still contesting my victory while strolling down Angela Avenue in the wee hours. My thanks to young Brian Collins and Carl Epple for keeping us honest. The Travisanos were gracious hosts.  My thanks to Kathy Koshansky and Terry Doss for the photography.NCAA17Kielty4

Sunday’s Mother’s Day pregame began at 9:00 outside the Ivy Court Inn. In addition to Liz Finley’s quiche and Kristina Perkovic’s breakfast sandwiches, there were dips, sweets and treats that continued to come as we strolled across the street to Arlotta.  The tequilla-based punch that Vasko concocted had many dancing the jig prior to the game. Guinness, Irish coffee and Bloody’s rounded out the menu. For the senior parents, we bid farewell to the Ivy Court, home away from home for four years.  Wonderful people, early morning tailgates, cigars on the porch, and late night munchies in front of a fireplace will not be forgotten.  Close proximity to Arlotta, Belmont Beverage, The Linebacker, Mulligans and Domino’s has been clutch.

Prior to the game, the Irish senior players requested Sergio Perkovic wear the number 40, which is reserved. The 40 jersey is framed in the Notre Dame Arlotta Stadium team room, dedicated to the memory of former Irish captain Mike Sennett, a 1991 graduate who died of a heart attack in 2007 at age 40.  Sennett evangelized lacrosse throughout the midwest as a player and coach.  He coined the phrase, “Count On Me”, challenging those around him to match his effort. His jersey is occasionally bestowed to a senior. He and Perkovic both attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Perkovic’s presence made a difference on Sunday. Congratulations Sergio, Kristina and Vasko.

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Mike Sennett

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Sergio Perkovic honored former captain Mike Sennett, wearing the #40.   Perkovic’s return opens the field for the offense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday’s game was surrounded by uncertainty. Despite a Las Vegas lean toward the Irish, the hangover from the Army loss, injuries and an identity still being formed had many less than confident.

The entirety of the game would be played out in the opening minutes. Marquette, Big East Champions and recent slayer of Denver, entered Arlotta poised to propel their five-year program to the next level.  Sunday’s game was the perfect stage. The Golden Eagles (8-8) secured the opening possession, quickly finding resistance which led to a defensive stop. Garrett Epple and the long pole men were active, while a corp of middies banged, gaining possession and then transition.  Enter Gleason, who motored to net, hardly yielding a stride east and west before scoring  to gain a precious early advantage, 1-0.

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Shane Doss collected  three ground balls on Sunday in addition to making 12 saves.

Forty five seconds later, a Brendan of the Collins variety,  moving to his right, fired high to low and the Irish led 2-0 on their first two possessions. For Brendan Collins, it was sixth of the year.  After Marquette got on the board with nine minutes played, Ryder Garnsey marked his return with the team’s third unassisted goal of the game and a 3-1 lead to finish the first quarter.  It began with defense, with the Irish forcing four turnovers and requiring Doss to make but one save. Bobby Collins, Nick Koshansky, Drew Schantz and Chris Carter were physical and fleet at  the defensive midfield, clogging dodging and passing lanes.

Less than a minute into the second quarter, Sergio Perkovic found Brendan Collins who went sidearm to  score his second of the day,  building a 4-1 lead.

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Iron man Bobby Collins limited Marquette shooters.

But turnovers in transition and a botched 10-man ride, led to three consecutive Golden Eagle goals in less than three minutes and we were suddenly tied at 4-4.  Enter Brendan Gleason and less than 90 seconds later, he crashed the net again to put ND back on top 5-4 with a lead not to be challenged.   Scrapping to keep matters close, Marquette burned the clock down to the half’s final minute and challenged Doss down low.  He was equal, then countered with an outlet pass to Timmy Phillips, who cruised and cruised some more.  Suddenly inside 10 feet of the crease,  he deftly buried a shot far post and with 57 seconds remaining in the half, the home team danced with a 6-4 lead.

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Timmy Phillips went coast to coast to score on Sunday.

Caution signs went up, as the Irish have been generous in allowing opposition goals in the final 30 seconds of a quarter.  Not today.  Pat Healy scooped up one of three ground balls on the day and fed Brendan Gleason.  He spotted mate Mikey Wynne on the crease and lobbed a precise pass, which Wynne caught, faked and finished with 10 seconds remaining in the half.  Arlotta erupted, as the Irish closed the half with a flurry and a 7-4 lead.  A 10-5 advantage in second quarter ground balls was diffused by four turnovers. Face offs in the half were even, with PJ Finley and John Travisano contesting each.  But momentum and a three goal lead were with the Irish. Credit Hugh Crance, who matched Marquette scorers stride for stride in thei efforts to dodge.  It was Crance who deflected a pass into the crease that Doss gathered and fed Timmy Phillips.

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Anthony Marini and the senior class played their final game at Arlotta Stadium.

The crowd was just settling into their seats when Ryder Garnsey threaded a neat pass to Mikey Wynne, who finished from the crease for a quick strike goal and ND’s largest lead, 8-4 one minute into the third quarter. Marquette would respond less than a minute later, only to see Gleason strike again 44 seconds later to draw the air out of comeback aspirations.  Two minutes later, the Vermont native struck for his fourth, with Garnsey setting the table, his 22nd assist of the year and a 10-5 ND lead.   Marquette got one back with 5:11 left in the third, only to see Gleason return fire for his fifth of the day, just 12 seconds later.  Credit PJ Finley, who won the draw, raced to net, drew the slide and made the pass, picking up an assist on Gleason’s 25th goal of the year. Brendan Collins would score his third of the day just 90 seconds later, shooting low to low, to extend the lead to 12-6.  Leading by three going into the quarter, ND exited period three up by six.

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Freshman Bryan Costabile scored his 17th goal going to net.

Entering the final quarter, certainty began to prevail and melancholy surfaced. While “Petal to the Metal” was barked, the final quarter at Arlotta for Irish seniors was unfolding. Brendan Collins scored his fourth, a career best for one game. He has nine goals on the year, surpassing last year’s total of seven and playing his best Irish lacrosse.  Sister Lucy confirmed such. Bryan Costabile scored his 17th goal of the year before assisting on Brian Willetts’ fourth. A final score of 15-9 featured unselfish and relentless offensive play. With the exception of a three-minute lapse in the second quarter, Gerry Byrne’s defense was physical and rotated to perfection. Highlights can be seen here.  Notre Dame versus Marquette Highlights

Fourth-seeded Notre Dame will face fifth-seeded Denver  in a rematch of a March 12, Pioneer 11-10 victory. Denver scored with 0:00 remaining to avoid the fourth consecutive overtime game between these rivals.  This senior class has lost to Denver in Southern California, Philadelphia, South Bend and Denver.  Notre Dame’s last visit to Hofstra was three years ago in an epic comeback victory over Albany.  That overtime thriller advanced the Irish to The Final Four.  Saturday’s winner will advance to Foxborough and The Final Four.  Tickets can be purchased online via this link……   Hofstra Athletic Ticket Office.    A swelling Irish tailgate will set tent early on Saturday, with the gates opening at 8:00 am.  I’ll push out a map and further details on Thursday.

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Our seniors will graduate Friday in front of their teammates and families in Long Island.  They have three games remaining.  Get behind them and drive this great program past Denver and onward to a third Final Four in four years.  Go Irish!

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Honor

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Brendan Gleason scored a career-high four goals on Saturday.

An Army sharpshooter marched through Notre Dame three minutes into overtime, scoring his fourth goal of the game to propel the Cadets to a 10-9  win over fourth-ranked Notre Dame Saturday at historic Michie Stadium in front 12,233 fans and a CBS Television audience. It was Army’s first win over the Irish since 2002. There were four ties, with the Cadets forcing overtime with 7:45 remaining in the fourth. Brendan Gleason scored a career-high four goals and Mikey Wynne added three including his 100th, to lead the offense. Long stick middie John Sexton scored, collected five ground balls and caused two turnovers.

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Mikey Wynne became the 8th ND player to score 100 career goals.

Goalie Shane Doss posted 13 saves, including several of the highlight reel variety. Despite knocking off Notre Dame and Syracuse to finish the regular season at 12-4, Army did not earn an NCAA At-Large bid. Instead, they disperse to engage a more meaningful battle with Honor.

On Selection Sunday, the Irish (8-5) drew the fourth seed of the 17-team field and will host Marquette at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday at noon in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round.    The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Congratulations to Monmouth Head Coach Brian Fisher, a former Notre Dame player and coach, who led his team to their first NCAA Tournament birth after launching the program four years ago.  Fish recruited many of Notre Dame’s current senior class.

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Brian Fisher

Saturday’s game with Army was preceded by a Terry Doss-produced tailgate, nestled alongside a reservoir fed by the Hudson River and framed by historic Michie Stadium.  A row of tents housed a delectable spread of sandwiches, doughnuts and desserts that were washed down with Bloody’s, Irish coffee, Guinness and jello shots. The post game tailgate featured barbecue ribs, chicken and pork. Thanks to the Finleys, Sextons, Zullos, Travisanos and Koshansky’s for leading the charge.

Not even an occasional shower could deter an Irish nation that came from all corners – the Crances and Grays from California, Restics from Oregon, Gleasons and Garnsey’s from Vermont, Perkovics from Detroit, Epples, Costabiles and Collins from Maryland.   Alumni were abundant, with Jim Marlott, Alex Eaton, Eddie Lubowicki, Thomas Stephan and Brian Buglione. Parent alums included Bob and Norma Landis, Liza and John Near, Beth and Ed Lubowicki, Lynn Eaton and Bob and Barbara Rogers. Apologies to those I missed. Tailgates bring the family together.

The fourth-ranked Irish took the field with Brendan Collins,  Anthony Marini and Brian Willetts getting their first starts of the season. John Travisano squared off at the X to handle the opening face off. Barely a minute into the game, Mikey Wynne opened the scoring, finding a lane to the net and depositing a shot far post.  He added a second goal six minutes later, moving through traffic 12 feet out and finishing side arm to stake the Irish a 2-0 lead in front of the season’s largest crowd.

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John Travisano won 8/17 at the face off X.

Wynne’s  27th goal of the season was also the 100th in his career, just the eighth player in Notre Dame history to reach the 100-goal milestone. Sergio Perkovic became the seventh player earlier in the season. In between Wynne’s scoring, Irish goalie Shane Doss turned away the Cadets three times on precision shooting.  Playing in front of Doss was Garrett Epple, Pat Healy and Hugh Crance. John Sexton brought his long stick, with Drew Schantz and Bobby Collins installed at defensive middie. Enter Nick Koshansky, who would collect an early ground ball.

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Brian Willetts picked up an assist in his first ND start.

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Anthony Marini collected two ground balls.

Brendan Gleason stretched ND’s lead to 3-0, taking a perfect pass from Timmy Phillips on goal line extended, he dodged one hit while taking another as he tucked away his 17th goal of the year. Army got their first goal with 1:59 remaining in the quarter, before Wynne would strike again.  Coming in from behind the net, a quick hockey stop and reverse of field created space on the crease.  With 24 seconds remaining in the first, Wynne deposited his third goal of the game, his fifth hat trick of 2017 and 20th of his career.  It was 4-1 Irish after one quarter.  Enter Jack Kielty and Eric Restic.

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Shane Doss was sharp early and posted 13 saves on the day.

The winds changed in the second quarter, with sunny skies yielding to gray. Foretelling…..Army would go on an uncharacteristic 5-0 run, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead. The first three goals were scored in the first four minutes of the quarter. Rain fell while the Black Knights drenched the Irish with nine shots on goal to ND’s four. Enter Freshman Charlie Leonard, who saw his first action of the year at the face off X. Leonard and Travisano would complete the first half winning 6/13 draws.

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Charlie Leonard secures possession.

John Sexton’s fourth goal of the year halted Army’s downpour and ND’s 14-minute offensive drought.  Sexton launched a laser over hand with velocity to the top of the shelf. Credit Brian Willetts with the assist.  Army responded, scoring  with 16 seconds remaining in the half, restoring the Cadet lead to two at 7-5.  Surrendering scores in the final 30 seconds of a quarter feeds the foe. With Army fighting to extend their season and send their seniors off honorably,  we had the battle most expected, few wanted.

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John Sexton scored and collected five ground balls.

The third quarter began with the Irish successfully killing off penalties. Five minutes in, Brendan Gleason and Bobby Gray scored 44 seconds apart, squaring the game at 7-7. Gleason fought his way to the net for his 18th of the year, while Gray moved to his left from afar and fired an inch inside the far post with patented precision, at an acute angle. Parents Bill and Susie were in the house to see it live in Bobby’s final regular season game.  Army countered with their only goal of the quarter and an 8-7 lead.  Three minutes later, Gleason put his hockey skills to work, with a sudden stop and reversal of field, came from behind the net and fired far post to knot the game at 8-8, the day’s third tie.  Enter Pierre Byrne.

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Statuesque Bobby Gray launched a laser an inch inside the far post.

The quarter would end with ND outscoring Army 3-1.  Credit the defense.  Army out shot the Irish 11-6, but many of those shots were visible and not threatening.  Doss recorded four saves and was crisp with the outlet pass. Enter Ben Pridemore, playing second line middie.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Notre Dame reclaimed the lead they last had in the second quarter.  Starting up top near the X, Gleason moved to his left and then went to net, firing off the far post for a 9-8 advantage.  His fourth goal of the game was a career milestone. His 20 on the season is also a career high. The Irish led 9-8 with 11:52 remaining.  Finishing Army would secure a third seed, possibly a second seed in the pending NCAA Tournament.  Army had other aspirations, scoring four minutes later to forge a 9-9 tie. Statistically, shots, saves, ground balls and face offs were dead even.  Both teams had quality possessions and looks, neither scored in the final 10 minutes, so we went to overtime.

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Brendan Collins joined the top middie line on Saturday.

After a prolonged face off scrum at midfield, skies darkened and Army came up with the ball. The Black Knights made it a short possession, advancing through ND defenders, with a high-placed shot finding net 54 seconds into overtime. It was Army’s second win against the ACC and a Top 5 team, having defeated Syracuse earlier in the year. They finished the season 12-4, with their seniors departing tied as the program’s most victorious.

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Army’s seniors dispersed as the program’s best.

 

For ND, the loss would translate into a more formidable foe in the Tournament’s first round. Individually, Shane Doss posted double digit saves for the ninth team this year. Bobby Gray, John Sexton and Brendan Gleason all established career highs with their respective scores. Charlie Leonard won his first collegiate face off. ND deployed a season-low 22 players in the game. See highlights of the Army game via the link below.  My thanks to Terry Doss and Kathy Koshansky for their fine photography.

ND versus Army Highlights

On Sunday evening, the Irish were awarded a fourth seed in their 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance.  They will host Marquette, whom they defeated a month ago 11-10 at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame led 8-2 in that game before the Golden Eagles came back. Marquette defeated Denver and Providence to claim The Big East Tournament.  Tickets for Sunday’s game are still available.  These seniors advanced to the NCAA Championship as freshman by winning a legendary game at Hofstra.  A win Sunday versus Marquette brings us back to that site.  Get behind this team and these seniors to advance to an eighth consecutive quarterfinal.  See ya Sunday! Go Irish!

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Turnabout

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Drew Schantz navigates congestion in transitioning on Sunday.

One week after Notre Dame pushed North Carolina to the edge of post season extinction with a victory in South Bend, Carolina got even, defeating the Irish in the ACC Championship game, 14-10 in Durham, North Carolina.  Just as the Irish had staked themselves a 4-0 lead on Friday evening in the semifinal against Duke, Carolina jumped on the Irish in Sunday’s final with a 4-0 lead seven minutes into the game. It was a lead the Tarheels would never relinquish.  Brendan Gleason notched a career-high three goals for ND, while  Bryan Costabile collected two goals and an assist.  Defensively, Shane Doss posted 12 saves in goal  and collected a team-high seven ground balls.  John Sexton picked up four ground balls and provoked a career-high four turnovers. Gleason, Costabile, Doss and Sexton were selected to The All Tournament Team.

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Bryan Costabile scored, distributed and defended on Sunday.

Notre Dame (8-4), is now ranked third in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which measures wins, losses and strength of schedule. The Irish finish the regular season on Saturday at West Point against Army (11-4).   Army’s RPI ranking is 17. Tickets for that game can be purchased via this link.

ND versus Army Tickets Sold Here

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John Sexton had a Tewaaraton Trophy day.

Sunday’s championship game followed a Saturday of Durham shopping, golf, arboretum tours and campus strolls. Dinner at  Tobacco Road Sports Cafe, was followed with a few spontaneous nightcaps.  Sunday’s tailgate was led by the Zullo, Sexton and Gayhardt families promptly at 9:00 am outside Duke’s Koskinen Stadium. My thanks to Kathy Koshansky and Terry Doss for the photography. Special thanks to Penny Healy for the Notre Dame Lacrosse artwork she painted and presented. Memories preserved.

On a hazy day pushing 84 degrees, Carolina needed to win to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.  They came out shooting, rushing to a 4-0 lead.  A 5-1 edge in face offs courtesy of PJ Finley and John Travisano was negated by six ND turnovers. Bryan Costabile got the Irish on the board with just 3:47 remaining in the quarter. Both teams took eight shots, but Carolina scored on four of them.  Two spectacular saves by Doss kept the score at 4-1.

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Sergio Perkovic joined John Sexton as one of 25 Tewaaraton Trophy finalists.

Brendan  Gleason brought the Irish closer, scoring two minutes into the second quarter, 4-2.  A three-goal Carolina run slowed Irish momentum, extending Carolina’s lead 7-2 with 4:36 remaining in the half.  Drew Schantz stopped the run, stepping to the net, shooting high to low to bring ND to 7-3 at halftime.

Carolina struck three minutes into the quarter, before ND roared back with three scores of their own.  Bryan Costabile, Brendan Gleason and Pierre Byrne scored in succession to pull ND to 8-6 to close out the third quarter.   Three goals on six shots,  brought the Irish within two for the first time since the beginning of the second quarter.

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Pierre Byrne brought the Irish within two. 

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Shane Doss saved 12 and collected a game-high seven ground balls.

Unable to hold late game leads throughout the season, Carolina had squandered a nine goal lead two days earlier versus Syracuse in Friday’s semifinal. Sunday, Carolina turned that around,  launching another three goal run to start the fourth to claim their largest lead of the game, 11-6 with  less than seven minutes played.  Brian Willetts and Brendan Gleason scored within two minutes apart to bring the faithful to their feet and the Irish within three, 11-8 with 9:26 remaining.  But two consecutive Carolina goals,  Irish turnovers and subsequent long Carolina possessions  burned  four minutes and pushed UNC’s  lead to 13-8.

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Hugh Crance settled the defense after the first.

Ryder Garnsey got one back with 5:46 to close within 13-9, but Carolina became deliberate with possessions, with the clock their ally.  Senior defensive middie Bobby Collins would score his first goal of the season with 28 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.  Out-dueled all day at the face off X, Carolina won 10/11 in the fourth quarter, expanding an 8-6 lead to a 14-10 victory.  For the seniors, their ACC Tournament resume includes a championship, runner-up and two semifinal appearances. Highlights are below.

Notre Dame vs UNC Highlights

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Bobby Collins transitions up field on Friday night.

The Irish got to the championship game, riding a stellar defensive effort on Friday night versus Duke. ND had lost to Duke just three weeks earlier on the same field 11-8.  Friday, ND scored first and played smothering defense.  Riding a goal from Mikey Wynne and three consecutive goals from freshman Bryan Costabile, Notre Dame shut out  Duke for the first 35 minutes.

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Shane Doss helped shutout Duke into the third quarter.

Early in the third quarter, Duke turned the tables,  stringing four goals together into the fourth quarter to bring the game to a 4-4 tie with 9:59 remaining.  Two of the four goals had Duke playing with a man advantage, the only penalties whistled in the half. Three of the four goals were scored by senior Jack Bruckner , giving him 43 for the year.

Ryder Garnsey spotted Drew Schantz, who fired high to low, beating Duke goalie Brian Balkam between the legs, putting ND back on top 5-4. Bruckner responded a minute later producing the game’s second tie in three minutes, 5-5.  Enter Brendan Collins, who found Ryder Garnsey down low.  Garnsey caught and finished sidearm to give the Irish their third lead of the game, 6-5.  Collins would then find Mikey Wynne in the slot (hockey term), eight feet out.  Wynne caught and shot as he does, giving the Irish a two-goal lead with 2:34 remaining.   Collins  drew slides on both plays, followed by unselfish, precision passes. He now has nine assists on the year.

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John Travisano won 7/10 face offs versus the ACC’s top face off specialist.

After Doss made a critical save, Duke scored with 23 seconds remaining to age ND Nation.  With possession, but less than 15 seconds, the Blue Devils found Bruckner with time and space to Doss’ right. His sidearm bid to tie the game rang off the far post with eight seconds remaining, with Hugh Crance collecting the loose ball and running out the clock.  More turnabout, with the Irish defeating Duke in the ACC’s after losing to the Blue Devils the past two years. Highlights can be seen via the link below.  Special thanks to Todd and Penny Healy for coordinating the parent pregame.

ND versus Duke, ACC semifinal highlights

Saturday’s game versus Army will be the final regular season game for the seniors.   We’re expecting more than 200 faithful, rain or shine for the tailgate.  Come out hungry and hollering to solidify a top three seed.  A desperate Army awaits us at West Point. See ya Saturday!   Go Irish!

What Fun

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Mikey Wynne deposits one of his five goals  on a spectacular day.

There was no mistaking the elephant in the room.  Large and wearing Carolina blue, this one sat in front of the door to the 2017 post season.  For Notre Dame to pass through the playoff bracket , it would have to move past the elephant warming up at Arlotta Stadium. A win would propel to the conference tournament with confidence and close the book on a disappointing end to a stellar 2016.

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Freshman Bryan Costabile scored the game winner with 2:44 remaining.

Bryan Costabile’s  high howitzer  on a sharp angle with 2:44 to play in the fourth quarter, gave a green and white clad Notre Dame a 14-13 win against the stubborn Carolina elephant in front of a record 5000 fans  at sun-drenched Arlotta Stadium. Mikey Wynne was spectacular, with five goals while Sergio Perkovic contributed three goals and two assists. There were five ties and three lead changes.  John Travisano and PJ Finley combined to win 19/30 faceoffs, while Shane Doss posted seven timely saves.  Garrett Epple collected seven ground balls and John Sexton  scooped up five.  With the win, the Irish (7-3) moved to 2-2 in the ACC, locking down the third seed in this weekend’s ACC Tournament.  The elephant who knocked the Irish out of the NCAA Tournament last year, didn’t go quietly.

Senior weekend began with lefty John Borbi launching straight and far into a howling wind at  The Warren Golf Course on Friday.  He welcomed the pressure. A collection of 20 characters dressed as parents navigated the Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore-designed course, situated on the Notre Dame campus.  It was cold, competitive and colorful.  Bobby Helferich won the longest drive and closest to the pin.  Rob Simpson ignored the cold and played in shorts. Contention of scores,  handicaps and Guinness-aided drives clouded crowning a team winner.  Todd Healy arrived six holes late from Germany, posted a few birdies and blew out birthday candles.  Vasko Perkovic is being sought for falsifying Healy’s card.  Paul Finley and Jack Travisano agreed to move the winner’s winnings to The Linebacker Inn for Friday night’s Senior Farewell.

We had a great turnout at the Linebacker on Friday night.  Dancing to music from yesteryear, parents now howled instead of the wind.  Cinderella had long gone to bed before the final Irish exit left us to a group of seven.  On behalf of the senior class, thank you.  Jack and Laurie Travisano were gracious hosts and caretakers.  As Abba brought high fives from young karaoke talent, Jack requested a shift of venues, preferring to end the evening across the street at Mulligans.  The request shed new light on his golf score. Rob Walter and Carl Epple will investigate.

 

A few hours later, Saturday’s tailgate kicked off at the Ivy Court with an overflow gathering.  The Perkovics, Collins and Marins imported family from Michigan and New Jersey.  It was a scene from Goodfellas. The room never looked better thanks to Tammy Schantz.  Wall to wall blue and gold.  There were large Sergio heads being waved while the Bloody’s and Guinness flowed. A brief speech thanked this multi-class family for their growing support, with a pledge to prolong the season.  The walk to Arlotta Stadium was extended due to Blue and Gold football and softball traffic.  The real chaos was at Will-Call.

Arlotta’s capacity would be stretched as the sun burned through overcast skies and warmed to 57 degrees.  The berm filled to five deep, end to end.  Kathy Koshansky, John Marchese and Bobbie Arlotta had little room to navigate the sidelines, but produced great field photography.  Thanks to Kathy and John, whose works can be seen via the photo tab at the top.  Great to meet John’s father, Italian born, who’s first lacrosse game was “Verrry, verrry goood.”  Bobbie’s work can be seen at Inside Lacrosse.com.

An Irish win would almost eliminate defending national champion Carolina. In a similar position last year, Carolina rallied for an epic win, using the comeback victory over ND as the catalyst to win their first national championship in more than 20 years.

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John Travisano had a career day, winning 10/14 from the X.

Carolina won the opening possession, scoring first on a short side shot that seemed to surprise 48 seconds into the game.  Up to the challenge, ND struck back when Mikey Wynne collected a loose ball after taking a jolt and flicked a backhand shot home for a 1-1 score with four minutes played. Enter Jack Kielty, John Travisano and Bobby Collins. A career moment took place with 8:20 in the first.  Moving left and to toward the net, Bobby Gray reached back and uncorked a high to high rocket. Perfectly placed where the crossbar and post come together, Gray’s shot ripped through the net before a national television audience – a backyard dream of every pee wee laxer. A 2-1 Irish lead with six and a half minutes played.  Bryan Costabile went to the net, switching hands and finishing to extend the ND lead 3-1 on six shots.

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Bobby Gray ripped the shot of the year,  far post and through the twine. 

On the ensuing face off, UNC went to net and got one back unassisted, closing to 3-2. Enter Brendan Collins, and Ben Pridemore at midfield, Eric Restic at defensive middie. With 11 seconds remaining in the quarter, Sergio Perkovic stepped toward net, drawing defensive attention.  Enter Mikey Wynne, always moving without the ball. Sergio found him in stride and Wynne put the ball behind the goalie to end the quarter at 4-2.  The Irish out shot the Tarheels 12-6, while gaining an edge in ground balls,  10-3. Finley and Travisano won 5/7 at the faceoff X versus a respected competitor.

Carolina struck twice in the first four minutes of the second quarter, squaring the game at 4-4. The Irish responded with goals from Perkovic (20), Brendan Gleason (12) and Wynne (21)  in barely four minutes. The Leprechaun tired  from tossing t-shirts, as the Irish led by three, 7-4. Timmy Phillips and Jack Kielty contributed mightily on the defensive end. Perkovic went to net before bouncing one in. Gleason found a seam and got to the net before finishing. Ryder Garnsey found Wynne with a slick back door pass as Wynne cut to the net with a man advantage. Wynne finished with 5:29 left in the half.  The defenses would tighten for the final five minutes before Carolina would score with 3.4 seconds remaining to stay close, but trail at halftime, 7-5.  While Travisano and Finley would lay claim 4/6 face offs,  Carolina scored five goals on 13 shots.

 

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Brendan Gleason found a seam to extend ND’s lead 6-4.

 

Carolina’s Chris Cloutier scored his second consecutive goal less than 90 seconds into the third quarter to close within one. But just 31 seconds later, Brendan Gleason came from behind the net and shot low, far post to restore a two goal lead. Two minutes later, Carolina would strike twice within 31 seconds to produce the game’s third tie, 8-8.   That’s where Doss stepped in and made a big save, gaining a valuable stop, with Timmy Phillips contributing at defensive middie.  Enter big Nick Koshansky, teamed with poles Garrett Epple, Hugh Crance and Pat Healy. Two Mikey Wynne goals restored the two goal lead while stellar defense got stops and turnovers. Enter Anthony Marini at attack. Carolina’s Cloutier scored with 24 seconds remaining, ending a seven minute drought.  The blue elephant was back within one, 10-9 to end the third quarter.  Credit the Irish defense, limiting Carolina’s offense to a goal in the final 11 minutes. Doss had three critical saves.

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Garrett Epple collected a game-high seven ground balls in his regular season home finale.

A three-goal run to start the fourth quarter gave Carolina their first lead, 12-10, with four minutes played.  As in the Marquette game, a defensive stand was needed and delivered.  With 10 minutes remaining,  Brendan Collins caught a pass 12 feet from the crease. He surveyed and reared, but no slide came. So he took another step and launched high heat, top shelf, to the back of the net.  Two minutes later, Collins found Perkovic who bounced a shot in to tie the game at 12-12.   Ninety seconds later, Perkovic struck again, returning the Irish to the top 13-12. Both goals were the result of man advantage situations. Long stick middie John Sexton was everywhere, taking two shots, collecting five ground balls and causing three turnovers. But the elephant wasn’t going easy.  Where Sexton wasn’t, defensive midfielder Bobby Collins was.  Tireless, Collins kept the Tarheels on the perimeter. Despite Irish pressure, UNC tied it with 5:56 remaining.   With possession, the Irish burned the clock down to 2:44 before Bryan Costabile, from a difficult angle, launched an overhand shot far post with velocity.  Veteran execution in a large moment for the freshman, putting ND back on top with 14-13.

Chaos ensued on the subsequent face off, with Carolina securing the ball, only to have it stolen.  Possession changed and changed again. The game would end with Sexton running  out the clock.  Elephant removed, time to move on. Highlights of the game can be seen here.

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Brendan Collins brought the Irish back within one goal late in the fourth with high heat.

ND/UNC Game Highlights

The seniors would celebrate with parents that evening at Tippecanoe Restaurant in South Bend. Lisa, Bill and Kathy Koshansky put the evening together, complete with an audio and visual slide show of seniors, diapers to Arlotta.  A weekend that began on a windy golf course ended on a historic estate, celebrating four years of memories with more to come.

ND now heads to Durham for a Friday night ACC semifinal game versus Duke at 8:30 pm.  ESPNU will broadcast. This will be the third consecutive year we faced Duke in the tournament, losing in Philadelphia and Atlanta. The NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI ), which factors in wins and losses with strength of schedule,  has ND ranked second and Duke 9th. Syracuse is ranked first and defending champion Carolina is ranked 11th despite their 6-7 record.  I suspect an Irish win on Friday would secure a first round home game in the NCAA Tournament – and enable another colorful round of golf in much warmer weather on Saturday.  We’ll need all of you in Durham, with dry temperatures forecast in the mid 80’s. Go Irish.

Tuesday’s Matinee

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Sergio Perkovic scored  a personal- best six goals including the game winner.

Saturday’s conference loss to Duke left Notre Dame with a rare two-game losing string and the team’s first real must-win contest in a matinee game versus unranked Marquette. Clearly a trap game, with conference foe Carolina looming next Saturday, Marquette entered Arlotta with an 0-5 record against Notre Dame, but with a history of taking the game to the wire.  History was repeated on Tuesday, with unwelcome drama at Arlotta Stadium.

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Shane Doss made 12 saves.

Sergio Perkovic scored a personal-best sixth goal of the game with 25 seconds remaining to lead 10th ranked Notre (6-3) Dame to an 11-10 victory over Marquette (6-4) in South Bend. Sprinting to an 8-2 second quarter lead, the Irish allowed the Golden Eagles to claw back, adding another chapter to Arlotta Stadium drama.  Mikey Wynne scored twice, while Ryder Garnsey collected six ground balls, PJ Finley five and Hugh Crance four. Goalie Shane Doss posted 12 saves.  Marquette (6-4) won 18/25 face-offs.  The Golden Eagles used the possessions to rally, but a defensive snuff by Pat Healy in the final seconds sealed the deal.

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Guarding goal, Pat Healy snuffed a last second shot to preserve Tuesday’s win.

Coming off consecutive losses to Syracuse and Duke, Notre Dame came out energized, scoring first when Brendan Gleason came from behind the net and fired high to net to give the Irish a 1-0 lead with two minutes played.  Gleason’s 11th of the season drew an assist from Pierre Byrne. Enter John Travisano. Marquette got even three minutes later to tie matters at 1-1.  A precise pass from Brendan Collins to Mikey Wynne just 49 seconds later led to Wynne’s 17th goal of the season and a 2-1 Irish lead they would never relinquish. A five goal run included two goals by Wynne, two by Sergio Perkovic and Bobby Gray’s fourth of the year, staking the Irish to a 6-1 lead with 2:53 remaining in the first quarter. Wynne finished on a smart pass from Brendan Collins. Gray went to net, capping off a strong day for the line of Timmy Phillips, Collins and Gray.  Six goals on nine shots represented  the start you’d expect from a home team looking to bounce back.  Your captains led, with Perkovic scoring six, Doss posted 12 saves, Nick Koshansky played his best game and Anthony Marini scored his first.  Marquette closed out the first quarter, scoring on a well-executed extra man advantage goal to cut ND’s lead to 6-2. The Golden Eagles went 2/5 with the extra man advantage.  The Irish collected 5/6 penalties on the day.

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Mikey Wynne scored twice in the first quarter.

Sergio Perkovic moved left, spun right and fired high to low with a bounce in the first minute of the second period.  On the ensuing face-off, PJ Finley scooped up one of his five ground balls and went to net.  He drew a slide and deftly fed Perkovic, who caught, spun and fired for his second goal in 11 seconds, his fourth in a contest 16 minutes old for an 8-2 lead. Parent nation had high-fives all around, with all four classes represented at Tuesday’s matinee.  Enter Brian Willetts. With 14 minutes remaining, the Irish wouldn’t score again.  Instead, Marquette would go on a 3-0 run to end the half that included an extra-man advantage goal and an unassisted goal with 22 seconds left in the half.  The 8-5 half-time lead felt more like being behind 6-4 at Duke then ahead versus Marquette.   Bobby Collins, Nick Koshansky and Eric Restic played well in the half, slowing Marquette’s transition and forcing extra passes.

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Nick Koshansky was welcomed back.

Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Sergio struck again, scoring unassisted to extend the lead to 9-5.  Marquette answered less than three minutes later to stay close at 9-6.   Doss continued to look strong, posting saves up high and down low. Enter Jack Kielty. Eight minutes elapsed without either team scoring before Brendan Collins threaded a pass to Anthony Marini on the crease.  Marini, caught, faked and finished for his first goal of the season (yeah!) and a four goal lead was restored, 10-6.  For Collins, he continues to heat up, with two assists on the day.  Marquette’s Joseph Dunn would score his third of a career-high four on the day with 43 seconds remaining in the third to pull Marquette back within three, 10-7 going into the fourth quarter.  The Irish were being out shot 30-17.

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Anthony Marini deposits his first goal of the year.

Forty-five seconds into the final quarter, Dunn struck again and an 8-2 Irish lead was now 10-8. Marquette would score twice more including Dunn’s fourth, part of a 4-0 Golden Eagle run that knotted the score at 10-10 with 7:56 remaining.  After scoring eight goals in the first half, the Irish had scored two in the second half, as part of a 17-minute drought. An 8-2 Irish run was offset by an 8-3 Marquette run.

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Shane Doss used his equipment to preserve a late lead on Tuesday.

Enter Chris Carter. A defensive stop gave ND the ball with 59 seconds.  Two weeks earlier similar drama – a defensive stop with one minute remaining gave the Irish possession at Arlotta, needing a goal to tie Syracuse. That effort fell short. Tuesday, Brendan Collins got the ball off a set play following an ND timeout and just missed with 14 seconds remaining. Senior captain Sergio Perkovic made a play, running around a great pick by Brendan Collins, Perkovic took the ball passed three Marquette defenders to net, and finished, putting ND back on top, 11-10 at 0:25.

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Hugh Crance had 4 ground balls.

Marquette would win possession on the ensuing face-off, slowly moving to net . I believe they were without timeouts. With Marquette lining up for a game-tying shot, Pat Healy stuffed the Golden Eagle shooter, causing a turnover the Irish collected and ran out the clock. Overtime avoided, ND moved to 6-3 with Easter break affording the team needed time off.  Highlights can be seen in this link.  ND/Marquette Highlights

Terry Doss and Kathy Koshansky made the mid week trip to South Bend to provide great photography, thank you.   It was great to see the Gaiss and Farnishs.  Dinner at South Bend-favorite Corndance never tasted better.

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Tuesday’s moms were all smiles.

Next up is Carolina (6-6), who lost Saturday to Syracuse in overtime. The third and fourth seeds in the ACC Tournament are at stake. Both ND and Carolina enter the game 2-2 in conference play.  Last year’s results aside, this game enhances ND’s chances of hosting a first round NCAA Tournament game. For Carolina, a seventh loss could cost them a tournament invitation – exactly where they were a year ago before going on a title run.  For now, enjoy Easter and give thanks for a great group of parents.  Then, be ready for Senior Week and Carolina. Best of luck to those teeing off on Friday.  Hit em straight, count them all.  Go Irish!


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Out Duked

Late Edition

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Ryder Garnsey wraps around a Duke defender to cut Duke’s lead 10-7.

 

Tenth-ranked Duke used a four-goal run in the first and a 4-1 run in the third en route to an 11-8 ACC victory over fourth-ranked Notre Dame this past Saturday in Durham. The Blue Devils got timely stops when needed. A second consecutive ACC loss for the Irish drops them to 1-2.  Despite scoring first, Notre Dame (5-3) trailed Duke (9-3) throughout. Sergio Perkovic, Mikey Wynne and Ryder Garnsey each scored twice. Garrett Epple and John Travisano collected five ground balls. The Irish deployed senior Shane Doss and junior Owen Molloy in goal on a spectacular spring day in front of 3,257 at Koskinen Stadium.

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Junior Owen Molloy saw action in his second game and was tested early by Duke. He responded.

The day began with a 10:00 am pre-game tailgate.  A shaded parking lot adjacent to the stadium made for a private, intimate affair. A variety of quiche and breakfast sandwiches were washed down with Guinness, Bloody Mary’s and Irish coffee. Temperatures reached 55 degrees. Paul Finley supplied the music and sound system.  Terry Doss captured the moments in photos. East coast storms set some air travelers back, while others arrived early and managed a round of golf on Friday.  John Borbi earned his stripes, dodging flight cancellations and arriving in time for the tailgate.  Cheers! The post game affair included local barbecue, featuring Carolina’s  vinegar-based sauce. Chicken with tangy, ketchup/molasses barbecue, beans and mac and cheese went fast.  The sweet trays featured home-made cookies, with large chunks of chocolate and white macadamia nuts. It was great to see alum Adam Goins in the house.  Southern life has been good to him.  The Milikens and the Pfeifers also made the trip.  Always great to have the Corrigan family join us.

 

Duke and Notre Dame have quite a history, with the Blue Devils leading the series 11-7. Last year, the Irish defeated Duke at home 8-6, leading most of the game. Duke came back in the ACC Semifinals, forcing overtime and then winning 10-9 in Kennesaw, Georgia. This senior ND class lost to Duke their freshman year in the national championship game, 11-9.  Duke beat the Irish 15-7 earlier that year.  Saturday’s game would likely earn a second seed in the ACC Tournament and a quality win for the NCAA Tournament resume.   Duke17LizFinley

As was the case versus Syracuse, ND earned the initial possession and went to net early, with Sergio Perkovic drawing a crowd and feeding Mike Wynne on the crease. Wynne caught and deftly shot backhand past unsuspecting Duke goalie Danny Fowler and a 1-0 Irish lead a minute into the game. Clever that Wynne, flanked by Garnsey and Brendan Gleason at attack.

Duke’s early possessions generated three high shots that Irish goalie Shane Doss deflected wide. The Blue Devils got on the board on a high-rising, 12 footer that Doss didn’t appear to see to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:40 left in the first quarter. John Travisano would win the ensuing face-off, with Eric Restic now in the game at defensive middie.  The ND defense appeared to knock down a pass, with a scrum in front of Doss ensuing. Duke’s Jack Bruckner found the ball and flicked in his second goal to give Duke a lead they would never relinquish.  Enter Anthony Marini at attack.  Your midfield was Perkovic, Bryan Costibile and Pierre Byrne.

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Freshman Jack Kielty in stride, collected ground balls for ND.

Duke scored two more goals for four in a span of 3:46 before Sergio Perkovic ended the run with his 12th goal of the year and the 100th of his Notre Dame career. Congratulations Sergio, Kristina and Vasko. Sergio became just the seventh player in Notre Dame lore to collect 100 goals.  He ended the day at 101, with at least five games remaining.  Ryder Garnsey scored a minute later, with Duke returning fire as the first quarter would end with Duke leading 5-3.  The Blue Devils out-shot the Irish 11-6,  with PJ Finley and John Travisano winning 5/9 face-offs. Travisano and Garrett Epple would go on to collect a team-high five ground balls, while John Sexton and Ryder Garnsey each gathered three.  With Finley and Pat Healy each collecting two, that’s 20/23 ground balls among six players.  Comparatively, Duke had 11 players collect 25 ground balls.

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John Travisano went 6/11 with five ground balls against Duke’s Kyle Rowe, a leader in the ACC.

The second period began with junior Owen Molloy in goal for the Irish, seeing his first extended minutes of the season.  He steered several high shots wide, making his first save at the 9:24 mark.  He got help from his defense, with Garrett Epple causing a turnover and an early ND stop.  Epple, Pat Healy, Hugh Crance and Jack Kielty tightened the defense, keeping most of the shots at the perimeter. Duke matched the effort with a scoreless first five minutes. With 8:29 remaining in the half, Garnsey fed Wynne and the Irish were within one, 5-4.  Duke would answer just 90 seconds later on a short-side, bounce shot and a 6-4 lead.  Enter Brian Willetts at attack.

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Pat Healy collected two ground balls for ND

The Irish were afforded a man-advantage opportunity and then a second, but were unable to sustain possession.  They went 0-4 on the day despite a few good looks.  A John Sexton caused turnover gave the Irish possession with 1:40 remaining in the half, but Sergio Perkovic’s high heat clanged off the cross bar.  Duke had more than a minute to extend their lead, but the Irish defense, which included Bobby Collins and Drew Schantz, was physical and never surrendered a shot. The second middie line of Brendan Collins, Bobby Gray and Timmy Phillips also had success.  The half ended with Duke leading 6-4 and holding a substantial advantage in possession. They went 3/3 in second quarter face-offs, leading to an 8-4 advantage in ground balls.  Still, anybody’s game.

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Garrett Epple collected five ground balls and caused turnovers for the Irish.

Duke got on the board 90 seconds into the third quarter, with Justin Guterding finding time and room for his 31st goal. He set up another two minutes later to give Duke an 8-4 lead and Notre Dame their largest deficit of the year. John Travisano gained the ensuing face-off, with an anxious John Sexton possessing and racing to net. With his wand waving in the air, he launched sidearm for his third goal of the season with 11:33 still left in the third quarter.  But Duke would score the next two, halting momentum and extending the Blue Devil lead to 10-5 to end the third quarter.  Finley and Travisano held the edge in face-offs, winning 4/6.  However, Duke out-shot the Irish 12-8, with Duke’s Fowler making five saves including a critical one on Sergio Perkovic on a man-up opportunity.  With roughly four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Shane Doss was reinserted in goal for Notre Dame. Credit Owen Molloy, who played critical minutes with seconds to prepare and responded.

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Wizard John Sexton scored, collected three ground balls and was disruptive.

Perkovic began the fourth, scoring in the first 40 seconds to close the deficit to four, 10-6. Despite unloading 13 shots in the quarter, the Irish were unable to score until Ryder Garnsey fought for an unassisted tally with 3:42 remaining for a 10-7 contest.  An untimely Irish penalty was enough for Jack Bruckner to post his fourth goal with 1:27 left and Duke riding an 11-7 lead.  Brendan Gleason would round out the scoring with his ninth goal with just 0:03 left on the clock.  The Irish out-shot Duke 13-5, outscoring the Blue Devils 3-1 in the final quarter, but still fell 11-8.  As was the case versus Syracuse, long possessions by Duke limited Irish possessions. Duke was warned twice and penalized once for stalls. Add 10 timely saves by goalie Fowler and ND fell to a record of 5-3.

My thanks to Kathy Koshansky’s photography talent.  Bobbie Arlotta shot for Inside Lacrosse.

North Carolina’s 15-12 defeat of Virginia eliminated the Cavaliers from The ACC Tournament later this month in Durham. It also intensifies the ND/Carolina showdown on April 22.  A win puts the Irish at 2-2 and likely against Duke in a semifinal game. A loss to the Tarheels will make Carolina the third seed, with fourth- seeded ND likely to play top-seeded and top ranked Syracuse.

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Pierre Byrne reverses his field in Durham. He had an assist.

The Media Poll has ND rated 10th, with Syracuse now ranked first. The Coaches’ Poll has ND ranked seventh.  Tuesday’s opponent, Marquette, remains unranked, but is always competitive.  We’ve got a crew traveling for a midweek matinee.  See ya in South Bend.

Go Irish!

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A win against Carolina could provide a rematch with Duke in Durham in an ACC semifinal.

One Goal

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Hugh Crance in pursuit for the Irish, who have seen one goal determine four of the last five games. Syracuse has played seven one-goal contests.

Unable to score in the final 6:49 of Saturday’s ACC showdown, top-ranked Notre Dame suffered their second one-goal loss of the season, 11-10 to third-ranked Syracuse in sunny South Bend.  Brendan Gleason scored twice for ND, leading nine different scorers.  His rush to the net in the final seconds was thwarted as the Irish (5-2) evened their record in the Atlantic Coast Conference to 1-1.  The game featured five ties, six lead changes and four Syracuse stall warnings.  The methodical Orange (7-1) won their fifth consecutive one-goal game while staking a 3-0 record in ACC play.  PJ Finley collected four ground balls and Pat Healy three, while Shane Doss posted 11 saves.

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Brendan Gleason scored twice Saturday. contributing a goal in each game thus far.

Saturday’s sun-drenching brought blue skies and 53 degree temperatures to Arlotta Stadium. The season’s largest crowd of 3,405 was supported by the Notre Dame band and an energetic leprechaun. The berm was four deep, stretching the length of the field. Among them was Kathy Koshansky, who flew in from Long Island to snap 300-plus photos. Our Bobbie Arlotta shot for Inside Lacrosse Magazine.  Former ND players in town included Andrew Gleason, Liam O’Connor, Jim Marlatt, Matty Collins, Eddy Glazener and Phil and Donna Pfeifer.

Vasko Perkovic added spice and grappa to Saturday’s 9:00 am tailgate. Another well-attended event at The Ivy Court, included tales of Newark flight delays, Notre Dame women’s basketball and pending ACC lax tournament projections. Breakfast sandwiches and fruit were washed down with Bloody Mary’s, Guinness and bourbon. Terry Doss pulled together group photos, while Lubo the Leprechaun greeted all. Congrats to those who completed The Holy Half.  The weather cooperated. Thanks to the Finley, Collins, Doss and Kielty families for organizing.  Our extended family grows weekly.

 

Saturday’s contest was the 13th between the Orange and Irish, with the ND claiming the last three. Defeating Cuse 17-7 last year during their celebration of 100 years of Syracuse Lacrosse was ND’s first win in the Carrier Dome.  The Orange entered Arlotta with one-goal victories over Siena, Albany, Virginia, St. John’s, Johns Hopkins and Duke. Their loan loss was a one-goal battle at home with Army.  Notre Dame, coming off their most complete win versus fourth ranked Ohio State, had one-goal contests with Denver (10-11), Maryland (5-4) and Virginia (11-10).  ESPNU cameras went live at noon!

Fireworks began early, with Orange goalie Evan Molloy denying Mikey Wynne on the crease right off the opening face-off. ND goalie Shane Doss matched the effort on a Syracuse shot from close range. Doss was twice more before Brendan Gleason got the Irish on the board,  attacking from behind the net for a 1-0 lead with eight minutes played. Syracuse evened it after being down a man. It was a goal scored in transition, where the Irish struggled versus Ohio State. Striking off the ensuing face off just nine seconds later, the Orange took their first lead 2-1.  ND responded on a ground ball collected by freshman Jack Kielty, who flicked to Hugh Crance, who fed Drew Schantz to tie at 2-2. Unselfish execution characterizes this team.

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Drew Schantz scored his fourth goal to tie the game at two. Hugh Crance got the assist.

SU went to the net for a 3-2 lead, with shots now tied 8-8. Gleason went to net and scored his second of the day, while being yanked to the ground to tie the game at 3-3, where we the score would remain to end the first quarter. Both teams executed at both ends.  Another one-goal drama.

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Freshman Jack Kielty is  playing veteran minutes.

The Irish struck first in the second with long stick middie John Sexton scoring for the second consecutive game, right off the face-off while being contested. However, Syracuse leveraged an extra man advantage, with a back door cutter fed on the crease for a lay up and a 4-4 tie.  Shots were now 11-11.  The Irish were winning the face-off battle 6-4, while losing the ground ball war 12-7. A minute later, Syracuse struck again on a dodge and shot top shelf by their captain to reclaim the lead, 5-4.  With the lead, the Orange slowed to methodical possessions, burning time off the clock while forcing ND to chase. The Irish offense could only watch. Ultimately, the home crowd weighed in and the referees reacted with a stall warning. Patience paid dividends as SU extended the lead to 6-4 before ND’s Bobby Gray got one back with 7:33 remaining in the half. Credit Brendan Collins, who spotted Gray and fed him on a nice cut heading to the net.

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John Sexton scored his third goal while collecting two ground balls.

Cuse responded a minute later, staking a 7-5 lead and controlling the second quarter tempo. The Orange out-shot ND 14-4, with Doss forced to make four saves while his counterpart from Syracuse went without a save.  PJ Finley and John Travisano drew even (7/14) with Ben Sherman from Syracuse at the faceoff X, who entered the game ranked 10th nationally. Cuse retained their edge in ground balls, which provided possessions, preventing Sergio Perkovic and Ryder Garnsey from registering a shot on goal in the half.  ND’s defense blocked two shots in the final 2:40 of the half to limit the deficit to a couple of goals, 7-5.

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PJ Finley enabled a third quarter run, winning 4/6 at the face-off X.

The second half began with opportunity, as Syracuse was penalized with a one-minute unreleasable penalty.  ND’s execution fell short with Cuse gaining possession. A subsequent man-up for too many men fell short, opening the door for a Syracuse goal in transition with two and one-half minutes played in the third.  SU now led 8-5. Bryan Costabile got that one back, scoring on a nice feed from Sergio Perkovic. A minute later, Cuse responded, extending the lead back to three with (9-6) with 7:42 remaining. Ominous, concerning? This is Arlotta and back came the Irish. Timmy Phillips, Ryder Garnsey and Sergio Perkovic scored in a span of 2:15 to tie the contest at 9-9 with 3:38 still left in the third quarter.  Arlotta rocked!

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Timmy Phillips scored his third goal of the season as part of a third quarter run.

Timmy Phillips scored on a nifty behind the back shot that was perfectly placed.  Perkovic then ran through a check before shooting high to high and Garnsey came from behind the net, dragging his stick and then shooting low. The quarter would end with both teams threatening, but neither scoring.  ND out-shot Syracuse 12-7 in the third. PJ Finley heated up, winning 4/6 face-offs, enabling Irish possessions, which they converted.

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Ryder Garnsey registered a goal and an assist in the third quarter.

Syracuse’ Nick Mariano scored just 80 seconds into the fourth quarter, with Bobby Collins draped on him to go up 10-9. Five minutes later, he struck again for his fourth goal of the game, giving  the Orange a two-goal lead with 8:42 remaining. More than the scoring, Syracuse possessed, methodically burning time off the clock. On the day, they were called for four stall warnings, severely limiting Irish possessions.  With 6:49 remaining, Brendan Collins would deposit a pass from Sergio Perkovic top shelf, far post to bring the Irish back within one goal. Time appeared plentiful until the Orange returned to their methodical offense that churned two minutes of clock per possession.  Their fourth stall warning would

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Brendan Collins was elusive, posting a goal and an assist.

lead to a violation with just over a minute remaining in the game – a full 60 seconds. We needed one goal.  Two timeouts later, Notre Dame forced SU’s Molloy to redirect a Gleason shot with 14 seconds remaining. A subsequent dash to the net by Gleason was cut short without a shot, and  Syracuse closed out the win, 11-10.   As was the case in the second quarter, neither team scored in the final six minutes of the fourth.   Highlights can be seen via the link.   ND vs Syracuse Highlights

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Garrett Epple collected two ground balls while causing turnovers.

A 12-8 comeback win in Chapel Hill by Duke (8-3) over North Carolina (5-5) positions Saturday’s Duke/ND game for second place in the ACC regular season standings. Syracuse (3-0) will likely win the regular season title, with both the Irish and Blue Devils currently 1-1 in ACC play.  North Carolina (0-1) and Virginia (0-2) are still seeking their first conference win.    The Blue Devils trailed Carolina 6-1 before going on an 11-2 run.  Face-off specialist Kyle Rowe was dominant, winning 17/24.  Notre Dame split with Duke last year, winning the regular season battle in South Bend (8-6) before losing 10-9 in overtime in the ACC semifinal in Atlanta.  Notre Dame travels to Durham ranked fourth in the media poll, while retaining the top ranking in the RPI polls, which reflects ND’s top rated schedule. The Blue Devils are ranked 10th.  The game will be ND’s sixth consecutive contest against a Top 10 team. It’s possible the two teams meet again in Durham on 4/28 in an ACC Tournament semifinal that would feature the second and third seeds of the conference.  For now, it’s all about Saturday at noon versus Duke, with barbecue to follow.  It’s Master’s Week, but we’ll see you in Durham. A win positions us to host a first round NCAA Tournament game. Go Irish!

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