Sergio Perkovic led eight different scorers while defenseman Matt Landis limited the nation’s top scorer to one goal in leading Notre Dame (12-2) to a 14-10 NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal victory over Albany (16-3) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. While the game was delayed twice due to lightning, it was the Irish who struck for the second time in eliminating sentimental favorite Albany. Perkovic deposited four goals while Conor Doyle collected three. Landis turned in an All-American performance, with support from Garret Epple, Pat Healy and Eddy Glazener. The trio forced Tewaraaton finalist Lyle Thompson, into six turnovers. He scored once, assisting on four others. ND also won 18 of 28 draws inside the face off circle, with PJ Finely collecting 16 of 25. Goalie Shane Doss made 10 saves, including several at key moments.
For the first time in program history, ND will appear in consecutive Championship Weekends. They will face #4 seed Denver, who rallied from a 7-1 deficit, to defeat Ohio State 15-13 in the second game at Sports Authority Field. The game will be held at 1:00 EST at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. If you’re reading this and not in Philly already, you should be. The forecast calls for sunshine, 70 degrees and the program’s first national title!
Congratulations to seniors Logan Connolly, Will Corrigan, Conor Doyle, Conor Kelly, Connor McCollough, Jack Near, Nick Ossello, Kyle Runyon, Henry Williams and manager Anne Schneider, who collected their undergraduate degrees. Jim Marlatt and Ryan Smith were bestowed their graduate diplomas. After a stirring mass, Father/coach Kevin Corrigan and Senior Associate Athletic Director for Media and Broadcast Relations, John Heisler, presided over commencement. The keynote speaker was Notre Dame graduate and NBA veteran Bill Hanzlik.
Selected as the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 1980 NBA Draft, Hanzlik, played two years with Seattle and 10 years with Denver. He enabled Denver to reach the NBA playoffs eight years, while leading ND to the Final Four. Hanzlik now directs the Gold Crown Foundation, a non-profit corporation, dedicated to improving the lives of Colorado’s children through athletics and education. My thanks to Brian Connolly and Liza Near for the captivating pictures.
The rematch of the epic 2014 NCAA Quarterfinals got underway under ominous clouds. Notre Dame entered the game as the tournament’s top seed, while Albany was unseeded. The first quarter resembled a street fight, with the two teams causing eight turnovers. Each scooped up eight ground balls. Four minutes into the game, Lyle Thompson fed Connor Field, who found space short side past Irish Goalie Shane Doss for a 1-0 Albany led. The Irish responded 90 seconds later, when senior captain Jim Marlatt found midfielder Sergio Perkovic, who’s high heat tied the game at 1-1. Thompson reclaimed the lead two minutes later, with Landis being called for a questionable holding call. Conor Doyle tied it with 2:03 remaining after Landis and Pat Healy teamed on a stout defense stand. ND out shot Albany 13-8, but the quarter ended with the game tied 2-2. Each goalie made three saves.
The second quarter began with the Irish on the offensive, firing four shots at Great Dane netminder Blaze Riorden in the first minute. He stopped the first three, but not Jack Near’s and the Irish had their first lead, 3-2. Albany tied it five minutes later, before Tewaraaton Award Finalist Matt Kavanagh launched a loose ball to the back of the net for a 4-3 lead. Three minutes later, lightening was spotted and the game suspended. A second sighting reset the mandatory 30-minute clock, leading to an 82 minute delay with 5:44 remaining in the first half. The game was resumed two hours after its initial start, with Albany going on the offensive first, only to come up empty. That’s when senior Will Corrigan went high to the far post to score in his fourth consecutive game. It was 5-3 Irish, with five different players scoring. Defensively, Doss and Riorden both made key saves to keep the game close. Fields would collect his second goal on a stealth feed from Thompson to close to 5-4.
Enter Conor Doyle, scoring two goals just a minute apart. The first came off a feed from Jack Near behind the net. The second with Doyle going to net, faked Riorden with a dip of the shoulder, posting high, short side for his 30th of the season with 1:22 remaining. He wasn’t finished, setting up Sergio Perkovic’s second of the game and ND’s largest lead, 8-4. With 45 seconds remaining, Doss went down low to stop Thompson and the first half ended. The Irish finished on a 3-0 run, scoring the last five of six. They were out shooting an offensive machine, 32-17. The shots were from possessions being provided by PJ Finley, who won four consecutive faceoffs and went 7/9 in the quarter. For Albany, the four goals scored represented their lowest output of the year.
Five minutes into the third quarter, Albany got one goal closer on a nifty, side arm shot by freshman Conor Fields. It was Field’s third of the game, 63rd of the season. He added another three minutes later and a highlight reel shot, behind the back, three minutes after that as a part of four goal, third quarter Great Dane run. Suddenly, it was 8-8. Albany would finish a third quarter run with their fifth goal on eight shots with 2:25 remaining, taking a 9-8 lead. Sergio Perkovic ended a 17-minute Irish drought with his third goal of the game, shooting low to the far post. Sixteen seconds later, Jim Marlatt went to net and finished with his 10th goal of the year and ND was back on top, 10-9.
A Lyle Thompson turnover near midfield was then scooped up by freshman Mikey Wynne. Dashing from the sideline to net, he went in solo on Riorden with an eye to a defense desperate to pursue. Poised beyond his years, he collected his first collegiate goal, extending ND’s lead to 11-9. Nick Ossello would contribute two goals in between Perkovic’s fourth of the game to complete a 6-0 Irish run. Lightening had struck for a second consecutive year. ND had ended a Cinderella run for Albany and the close of another magnificent career for a Thompson. Depth had been served, as a balanced offense, smothering defense and domination at the X had this game secured. There would be no epic finish. Shane Doss had been equal when challenged, and fresh legs from a deep roster enabled the clock to expire with a 14-10 victory. The ticket to Philly had been punched.
Highlights of the game are in the link below. On Thursday, The US Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) announced their 2015 All-America Team. Juniors Matt Kavanagh and Matt Landis and sophomore Sergio Perkovic were among the 15-player, first-team roster. Senior Jack Near was named second team, with seniors Nick Ossello and Conor Doyle and sophomore Garrett Epple all garnering Honorable Mention. For Kavanagh, it’s his third All-America honor, while Near collected his second. For Coach Kevin Corrigan, he’s now had 40 different players collect 70 All-America citations in 27 seasons. Congratulations players, coaches, parents and teammates. More to come. Welcome to Philadelphia. Saturday’s tailgate starts at 10:00 at Lincoln Financial Field, parking lot K. We’re down to Four!