A History Lesson

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Not since President Reagan was re-elected, Apple rolled out the Macintosh and Michael Jackson recorded Thriller had a Notre Dame lacrosse team shutout its opponent. This past Saturday, Irish goalie Shane Doss stopped 11 shots while his teammates forced 22 turnovers en route to 9-0 victory over Ohio State in South Bend.  Sophomore Garrett Epple led an air-tight defense, causing four turnovers, while midfielder Nick Ossello paced the offense with a career-best three goals in Notre Dame’s second shutout in school history.

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Parents in South Bend gathered for a pregame hosted by the Sheridan, Finley, Borbi, Travisano and Near families at The Ivy Court.  John Borbi provided the chicken,  while John Travisano personally tested the chicken’s temperature, seasoning, crispiness and tenderness. Lori Travisano served rich, but smooth chocalatines.  Mary Ann Sheridan pulled it all together, with salads, sandwiches and desserts to feed a late afternoon gathering.  Liza Near captured it on film.

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In New York City, Bob Rogers recruited more than 60 alums and parents to TirNaNog to watch the #3 ranked Fighting Irish take on the #15 ranked Buckeyes.  The photos reflect what makes Notre Dame special.  Thanks to Bob for pulling this together. Few schools secure 110 pre-gamers in two cities for a non-football event.

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The 40th lacrosse game between Ohio State and Notre Dame followed the women’s battle between the two schools, with Notre Dame prevailing 13-5. The ND men entered Saturday’s contest having won the previous 12 games against OSU, while owning a 30-9 series record.  The Buckeyes came into Saturday’s game after defeating #16 Towson on Tuesday in Baltimore, 7-6.  Saturday’s 4:00 start accommodated an ESPN broadcast with a near capacity crowd, sunny skies and new chrome domes worn by the Irish.

Nick Osello drove through OSU defenders to get the Irish an early lead.

Nick Ossello drove through OSU defenders to get the Irish an early lead.

Senior Nick Ossello returned to action, facing off and immediately banging bodies.  He would pick up a Buckeye turnover and drive through a defender, firing and scoring to put Notre Dame on the board two minutes into the game. Additional turnovers caused by Matt Landis, Eddy Glazener, John Sexton and Pat Healy would enable Notre Dame to stay offensive.  Posting a 5-1 shot advantage, the Irish increased their lead when junior Matt Kavanagh unleashed a low shot, through congestion, that skipped into the net with 5:55 remaining in the quarter. While OSU had some success with faceoffs,  the first period ended with the Irish forcing eight turnovers and out shooting the Buckeyes 11-1 en route to a modest 2-0 lead. Irish goalie Shane Doss did not register a save in the quarter, a feat the defense has achieved now twice this year.

Goalie Shane Doss deflects an OSU shot, with support from Nick Koshansky 38) and Matt Landis 43).

Goalie Shane Doss deflects an OSU shot while Nick Koshansky and Matt Landis provide support.

Forty five seconds into the second quarter, Doss made his first save, on a low shot he short hopped.  Senior Connor McCullough and sophomore Pat Healy entered the game, replenishing the Irish defense. Matt Landis frustrated OSU’s leading scorer Jessie King, who entered the contest with 21 goals. After Conor Doyle rang a shot off the post near the ten minute mark,  the Irish would come calling again with a man advantage via  Eddy Lubowicki.    Slick passing and unselfish ball movcment would create a cross-field seam.  With an assassin’s eye, Matt Kavanagh saw the seam and threaded a pass to Doyle alone on the Buckeye doorstep. Doyle caught, faked and finished and with 4:09 left in the first half, the Irish led 3-0.  Shots on goal favored ND 19-6. OSU would challenge Doss, particularly with 2:30 remaining on a guided missle targeting a high corner. But Doss stood tall, showing equal skill with an outlet pass to a streaking Eddy Glazener.  The half would end with both teams making stops, ground balls and saves almost even, but the Irish had the lead and control.

Senior Conor Doyle has scored five goals in the past two games.

Senior Conor Doyle has scored five goals in the past two games.

Nick Ossello removed any thought of a let down, opening the second half like an Express Train departing from the station. Picking up the ball from an OSU faceoff violation, the senior middie raced down the middle of the field, banging, spinning and shooting with a trail  of defenders behind him. Ossello’s second  goal of the game was vintage and gave ND a 4-0 lead. He wasn’t finished. A little more than a minute later, he  became the sixth different Irish player to register a hat trick this year, pushing the lead to 5-0. Kids on the berm and parents in the bleachers responded with 12:45 remaining in the quarter. A television timeout would follow. The window for an OSU comeback was closing.  Ossello would finish the day with three goals, 3/7 faceoffs won, while picking up three ground balls.   With 0:59 seconds remaining in the quarter, Conor Doyle would score his second of the game, following a rebound from a Jim Marlatt rocket, to give the Irish a 6-0 advantage. It was Doyle’s fifth goal in two games. Ohio State would post 10 shots in the quarter, forcing Doss to make three saves. Still no goals.  Focus slowly, but cautiously began shifting from the score to the clock.  Notre Dame’s only shutout came over Mount Union in 1984.  This was #15 Ohio State, defeaters of #3 Denver just a week ago.

Freshman John Sexton turned in another veteran performance.

Freshman John Sexton turned in another veteran performance.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Sergio Perkovic would score his 12th goal of the year, courtesy of a well-placed pass by Conor Doyle.  Two minutes later, junior midfielder Cole Riccardi unleashed his fifth goal of the year for an 8-0 Irish advantage.   Fresh legs began appearing with Jack Sheridan, Bobby Gray, Kyle Runyon, Pierre Byrne, Anthony Marini and Ben Pridemore in position.  The defense wasn’t finished, as the possibility of a shutout began to register with the visitors.  First, Garrett Epple collected his seventh ground ball.  Coupled with four caused turnovers and a pair of sound hits, the sophomore defenseman turned in an all-star performance.   With 7:03 remaining, freshman Brendan Collins thundered, dodged and shot low to high for his second goal of the season.  Another highlight for the defense….but there was one more.

Sophomore Garrett Epple turned forced four turnovers while picking up seven ground balls.

Sophomore Garrett Epple turned forced four turnovers while picking up seven ground balls.

With 4:25 remaining,  Conor Kelly would replace Doss in goal, with the Irish set to go one man down.  Kelly would make two sterling saves, including one immediately as he entered.  On the day, the Irish defense went five for five in killing Buckeye penalties, ended Jessie King’s 45 game scoring streak and registered the first shutout in 31 years, winning 9-0.   Unselfish offense and smothering defense translated into a historic result.  A recap of the highlights can be seen in the link below. Continued thanks to Rob Kelly, who contributes the photography each week.

Notre Dame shuts out Ohio State

Notre Dame will host #1 ranked and unbeaten Syracuse this coming Saturday at Arlotta Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU beginning at noon.  The Orange are 7-0, with a 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference record. They feature one of the top rated attack, along with outstanding faceoff talent.  Syracuse is coming of a 19-7 thrashing of Duke in the Carrier Dome.  The Irish enter the game ranked #2, with a 5-1 overall record and 1-0 in the ACC.     We’ll need fans from all generations at Arlotta.  See you Friday!

Go Irish!

Go Irish!

Defense Reigns

DSC_6959 (1)   Mikey Wynne scored three of his five goals as part of a 7-0, first-half run and Notre Dame held off  Virginia for an 11-9 victory in Charlottesville.  While Conor Doyle contributed three goals and Matt Kavanagh two, it was goalie Shane Doss and a smothering defense that enabled Notre Dame to improve to 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, 4-1 overall.  Virginia is now 0-2 and 5-2, respectively.

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DSC_5546The weekend began with dinner in Charlottesville at The Tin Whistle Irish Pub.  Later, some ventured to the palatial Boar’s Head Hotel to wish the team well.  Others headed to the parents’ hotel to catch the ND basketball team defeat Duke in the ACC semifinals. Saturday’s pregame in the parking lot of Klockner Stadium was hosted by the Marlatts, McCulloughs, Williams and Healy’s.  Liza Near led the happy birthday chorus for Liz Finley.  It was great to see alums Rick Andersen, Eric and Nancy Miller and George and Jean Cotter attend.  Donna and Phil Pfiefer hosted the post game barbeque at their beautiful home in suburban Charlottesville.  Nobody departed hungry or without butterscotch cookies.

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As for the game, the rain joined our walk into the stadium and would intensify during the first quarter. Injuries put young faces front and center, with more to come.  Sophomore PJ Finley took the opening faceoff,  with each team possessing once.  The Irish offense struck first, with attackman Matt Kavanagh coming from behind the net and scoring his 11th of the season three minutes into the game. Finley would win the ensuing faceoff, but a crease violation would hand the ball back, with Doss having to make a tough save up high.  The offense was methodical with each catch and throw, water spraying each time the strings stretched at ball’s impact.  Kavanagh would stretch the lead to 2-0, alternating the stick in each hand as he closed in on the Cavalier net, firing low to the far side. Freshmen Mikey Wynne would extend the lead on an assist from Conor Doyle with his 15th goal of the season and with 7:48 left in the first quarter, it was 3-0 ND.  Suddenly, the rain didn’t quite feel so wet.  Conor Doyle would score his first goal of the day, sixth of the year to make it 4-0, before Mikey Wynne’s second of the day on a clever assist from Sergio Perkovic would push the score to 5-0.

Freshman John Sexton continues to make big strides on D.

Freshman John Sexton continues to make big strides on D.

For the second consecutive week, the Irish had played up tempo  in the first quarter, on the road versus a top seven opponent,  building a commanding lead.  And for the second time in as many weeks, the defense was physical and agile, holding a quality offense to shots from the perimeter. Credit Matt Landis, Garrett Epple, Eddy Glazener, Jack Near, John Sexton, Brandon Collins and Nick Koshansky. Shane Doss registered three  saves in the quarter, forcing others high and wide.  Matt Landis delivered the first crunching hit.

Garrett Epple had Virginia retreating.

Garrett Epple had Virginia retreating.

Interestingly, down 0-5 with 0:37 remaining in the first quarter, Virginia would receive the game’s first stall warning. The quarter would end with ND leading 5-0 and fans puzzled by the call. The defense reigned! Quarter two began with ND triggering their first stall warning, only to see Sergio Perkovic score his 11th goal of the season,  a laser, on a beautiful pass from Kavanagh. Mikey Wynne would add his third of the game, high to low,  on an assist from Marlatt, with 10:41 remaining in the half.  Enter Pat Healy at close defense, while Ryan Smith tried painfully to stretch himself back into the game.  Enter Freshman John Travisano at X.   With 7:34 remaining in the half, Virginia broke their drought, ending a 7-0 Irish run with a man up goal.  After both goalies mades saves, Coach Corrigan would call timeout with 2:24 remaining in the half.  What followed was Mikey Wynne’s fourth goal of the half on a pass from Perkovic with just 55 seconds remaining.  ND was leading 8-1 on 17 effecient shots.  Virginia had one goal on 11 shots taken.  UVA would get their second goal with 12 seconds remaining to account for an 8-2 ND lead at intermission.

Mikey Wynne put five past UVA's Matt Barrett.

Mikey Wynne put five past UVA’s Matt Barrett.

Conor Doyle opened the scoring in the second half with a scorcher off a pass from Jim Marlatt.  That’s where UVA responded, going on a 4-0 run of their own, including a pretty transition goal.  UVA would take 10 shots in the quarter, only getting two goals.  The Irish would take five shots, scoring once. Doss and Barrett each recorded three saves. The quarter would end with Garrett Epple tatooing a Cavalier.  The rains returned for the fourth quarter, with he Irish leading 9-6. After a critical faceoff win by PJ Finley, Conor Doyle would strike for a 10-6 lead.  The two teams would exchange shots and turnovers to the five minute mark.  That’s when senior Will Corrigan strung a fine pass to Mikey Wynne and a 11-6 lead. Notre Dame had scored 11 goals on 26 shots, while the Cavaliers had six goals on 29 shots. UVA would use a three goal run, narrowing the gap to 11-9.  Suddenly, ND was clinging.  But after Cavalier goalie Matt Barrett made two  point blank saves,  including a highlight gem on Mikey Wynne, Koshansky and Healy clamped down one more time to seal an 11-9 conference win. Exhale!!  Denver the sequel avoided.  You can see the full compliment of highlights in the link below courtesy of ESPNU.

Defense Reigns

The carivan returns to South Bend on Saturday, where the Irish will battle Ohio State in Arlotta Stadium at 4:00. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.  ND will enter the game ranked #3, where they began the season. Ohio State is ranked #15, with a 6-2 record. They knocked off #3 Denver last week, 13-11 in Columbus.  Erin Go Braugh! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Go Irish!

Go Irish!

 

Outdoors and Overtime

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Sophomore attackman Zack Miller scored four goals including the game winner in overtime to lead The University of Denver past Notre Dame 11-10 in Denver.  Three of Miller’s goals came on a 4-0 Denver run in the fourth quarter. This was the third time in four years Denver and Notre Dames settled in overtime, with seven goals separating the two teams in the last five games.                                     DSC_5501Denver Spanky

DSC_5481A progressive happy hour in downtown on Friday was capped with a warm dinner  at Red Square Bistro.  Many thanks to our  generous host, Steve Osello, who welcomed, sponsored and served as ambassador all weekend. Saturday’s pregame at Spanky’s Road House featured an overflow crowd,  a make-your-own Bloody Mary Bar and plenty of pregame optimism.   A three block walk followed to Barton Stadium, where grills sizzled, music blared and players stretched on a  sun drenched field.  Our first outdoor game of the year was a beauty.

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The tone would be set early, with  Denver gaining an early advantage on Irish faceoff infractions that would lead to a 1-0 lead. Few in the sold-out crowd at Barton Stadium could interpret the infraction, one of five violations for the Irish.

Nick Osello battles at X

Minutes later, Sergio Perkovic bull-rushed a Denver defender, gaining enough separation to rear back and fire, tying the game at one with 9:25 remaining. Senior Jim Marlatt put the Irish in front, faking a shot and then stepping aside the fallen defender to finish in tight.  A young Denver fan sitting next to me provided the color commentary……”that was sick!”

Marlatt's face dodge left one Pioneer backpedaling.

Marlatt’s face dodge left one Pioneer backpedaling.

Progressing through the first quarter, Denver’s fleet offense grew impatient.   Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Eddy Glazener were physical and held the attack in check. Jack Near, Nick Koshansky and freshman John Sexton kept pace and anticipated well. The defense was making a statement early, exemplified by Landis, who caused a turnover that led to a sprint up field, Matt Kavanagh’s first goal and a 3-1 Irish lead.  Kav would then feed Sergio Perkovic on a man up effort from behind the net.  Perkovic stepped in from the perimeter and ripped for a 4-1 lead, quieting the overflow  crowd.  The Irish faithful were vocal.  Kavanagh would finish a 5-0 ND run, coming from behind the net and unleashing a laser from an impossible angle.  It was an explanation point and seemed to crush the spirit out of an edgy crowd.   Denver would get a goal back, when a shot appeared to hit Matt Landis in the helmet, with an unlucky rebound finding it’s way to a Pioneer stick for a goal. The ensuing faceoff would be more unfortunate, as Nick Ossello was called for a third faceoff infraction.

Faceoffs were perplexing, even for PJ Finley, who entered the game with a 77% winning percentage.

Faceoffs were perplexing, even for PJ Finley, who entered the game with a 77% winning percentage.

Denver would cash in on the man up and with 12:32 left in the second period, it was 5-3 ND.  After a Conor Doyle shot rang off the post, Denver would gather the rebound and score to get within one.  A penalty on the play would bring the Irish another man down challenge, but the defense was stout and the penalty killed without further damage. John Sexton, Ryan Smith, Brendan Collins and Jack Sheridan shined.  With 5:03 left in the half, Coach Corrigan called time out.  What ensued was crisp passing and a magical move by Kavanagh that put him on the doorstep alone, but with no room to shoot.  Ever the magician, he quickly flipped a shot behind his back and into the net, stopping a 3-0 Pioneer run. Cue the bagpipes,  as the Irish danced.  The replay on the jumbo screen brought flashbacks from last year’s Albany game.  Kav wasn’t done, scoring less than 20 seconds later on a shifty outside, then inside move that brought him to the doorstep and a 7-4 Irish lead.  Denver’s super sophomore Connor Cannizzaro closed the gap, but Irish goalie Shane Doss and the Irish would deny further scoring, taking a 7-5 lead to intermission.  ND’s seven goals came on 14 shots, with the Pioneers’ five goals coming on 21 shots. More amazingly, Denver goalie LaPlante recorded just one save, while Doss had four.  Denver turned the ball over eight times to ND’s four, but faceoffs were the equalizer with Denver scrambling to control 11 of 18.

Matt Kavanagh's second goal in 20 seconds.

Matt Kavanagh’s second goal in 20 seconds.

The second half was a slugfest, with Denver scoring first before Mikey Wynne answered on an Irish hustle play. Shane Doss would make saves low and high, with the Irish turning the ball over three times in the third quarter.  Following a clever trail check by Matt Landis , Denver would score on a man up after a questionable holding call on the Irish defense with 5:31 remaining. The third quarter ended, with the Irish extending their halftime lead by a goal to 10-7.  Optimism prevailed among the faithful.

The fourth quarter began with Denver scoring their fourth man-up goal and closing the gap. As the questionable unsportsmanlike-call was non releasable, it led to a second Pioneer goal despite some energetic defense by Jack Sheridan. It got quiet with 9:26 left and the Irish clinging to a 10-9 lead. Doss made two point black saves, including one in self defense  on Zack Miller that richochetted high and far out of play.  Two more turnovers at the five minute mark forced Doss to make a save down low, with the Irish taking possession.  The tenion was apparent, as the players were methodical with each move.  With 2:34 left, the Irish rejoiced when Conor Doyle’s perimeter rip apppeared to extend their margin. However, the shot caught the side of the net, versus the back of the net and possession was suddenly in Denver’s hands.  A minute later,  Miller tied it, coming from behind the net on a low wrap around.  Wow, 10-10, Denver picked up possession of another zany faceoff and quickly called a timeout.  Hall-of-fame coach Bill Tierney laid out a play that the character of this team would shut down, holding Denver without a shot to end regulation play tied at 10.

Irish Goalie Shane Doss answered when called upon.

Denver would secure possession first, spreading out the Irish, looking for the mismatch.  Once again, Miller gathered speed before stopping, spinning and shooting with precision for an overtime goal and celebration.  The season’s best performance deserved a better fate.  Onto to Charlottesville, where the fourth ranked Irish will open their Atlantic Coast Conference season as defending champions. Virginia is ranked seventh with a 4-1 mark.   Drama?  We’re just getting started. See you in Charlottesville.

Go Irish!

Go Irish!

Winning In Honor

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Visionary, Educator, Communicator.

A moment of silence was observed Saturday in The Loftus Center.  The President of Notre Dame for 35 years, Father Theodore Hesburgh, passed away at the age of 97.  The lacrosse team honored Father Ted with a sticker on their helmets.

Upon the conclusion of the Hesburgh tribute, Matt Kavanagh set up five goals while scoring two others, leading third-ranked Notre Dame  to a 20-5 defeat of Dartmouth in South Bend.  The 20 goals scored represented the largest Irish offensive in a decade.  It was the second consecutive game that Notre Dame registered 10 different goal scorers. Shane Doss got the start in goal and made six saves in 42 minutes.  The Irish improved their record to 3-0.

The Irish will honor Father Ted.

The Irish will honor Father Ted.

Not since Notre Dame scored 22 goals against Butler in 2005 had an Irish team scored 20 goals in a game. Against Dartmouth, Mikey Wynne, Sergio Perkovic and Cole Riccardi each scored three goals.  Kavanagh, Nick Osselo, Trevor Bosco and freshman Pierre Byrne each scored twice. Byrne’s first goal was his initial collegiate tally.  Just 45 seconds into the game, midfielder Sergio Perkovic scored to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Mikey Wynne scored his 11th of the season, before Dartmouth would use a set play out of a timeout to score and cut the lead to 2-1.  Grad Student Ryan Smith entered the game at long stick middie, which the Irish faithful acknowledged.  Dartmouth then tied the game at two, before the fireworks….. Junior Cole Riccardi snuck a low scud missile through a maze of bodies for a 3-2 Irish advantage with 4:23 left in the first.  Next,  Kavanagh forced several slides, distributing to Ossello, who finished for a 4-2 lead. It would be one of five assists for Kavanagh, who leads the team with 10 for the season. Kav would follow with an unassisted goal of his own and a 6-2 Notre Dame lead, followed by Riccardi’s second and Trevor Bosco’s first of the day. Enter Kyle Runyon at attack, with period one ending  and the Irish leading 7-2, out shooting Dartmouth 19-3.  The Big Green struggled clearing, repeatedly retreating against an athletic 10-man Irish ride.

Sergio Perkovic collected three goals versus Dartmouth.

Sergio Perkovic had a hat trick versus Dartmouth.

Ossello opened period two with a signature crushing hit, as junior Eddy Lubowicki entered for the Irish attack.  Goals by Kavanagh and a rip by Perkovic would make it 9-2. Enter Patrick Healy at close defense.  Brosco would then score his second on a fine pass from Lubo.  It was Lubo who appeared poised to shoot, only to feed Brosco, who fired from 14 yards.   The Irish would take the ensuing faceoff, winning 19/27 for the day.  Ossello went ( 8/12 ), while sophomore PJ Finley won 7/9 and freshman John Travisano won 4/6.   Turnovers caused by the 10 man ride, led to possessions. Winning faceoffs  led to more possessions.  Cole Riccardi would net his first career hat trick, followed by Ossello’s second goal for a 12-2 Irish lead.  The first half would come to an end with Doss making one of his more difficult saves on Dartmouth’s Don Stephan from in close.  Doss and Stephan were summer teammates.

Nick Osello scored two goals and won 12/19 faceoffs.

Nick Osello scored two goals and won 8 of 12 faceoffs.

Conor Doyle opened the second half scoring, before Wynne tallied on a crisp pass from midfielder Will Corrigan.  A swift midfield trio of Ben Pridemore, Bobby Gray and Pierre Byrne entered and struck quickly, with Byrne scoring on a side-winding missile for his first collegiate goal. A subsequent goal by Wynne put the Irish up 16-2.  Notre Dame had now scored 14 straight goals.  But the roar from the home crowd was loudest upon the sight of senior Connor McCullough, who made his 2015 season debut.   Bobby Gray made it 17-2 with 6:58 remaining in period three.  Enter Anthony Marini at attack, Jack Sheridan at close defense and Conor Kelly in goal.

Conor Doyle drew a crowd on Saturday.

Conor Doyle drew a crowd on Saturday.

ND’s Pat Healy and Dartmouth’s Jack Connolly were high school teammates.

Minutes later, senior captain Jim Marlatt would score his second on a fine assist by Kyle Runyon. It was 18-3 after three.  The fourth quarter began with a Dartmouth goalie change. Sergio Perkovic greeted the new netminder 11 seconds into the quarter, taking a  pass from Lubo and finishing for a 19-3 ND lead.  Pierre Byrne scored his second goal with Patrick Hadley, Zach Bartolo, Kyle Borbi, Kyle Trolley. Jordan Walter, Alex Hurdle, Tyler Ruhle, William Young and Chris Carter now on the field.   My bad if I missed anyone. Several of the freshman were making the collegiate debuts.  Dartmouth would post two goals to end the scoring and the game at 20-5.  ND outshot the Big Green 50-18.   Dartmouth was 14/24 on clears, while ND was 12/15.

See all of the Irish goals in this link:  Irish blitz Dartmouth in Loftus to go 3-0, with 10 different scorers.

The schedule intensifies with Saturday’s game at #4Denver.   We’ll be outdoors for the first time at Barton Stadium. Game time at 1:00 (MT).   Denver (3-1) suffered their first defeat last Saturday, losing at snowy UNC 12-10.  Saturday’s forecast calls for sun, 45 degrees and a lot of offense.  See you Friday! Go Irish!

Going On A Run

Notre Dame used a 9-0 first-half burst, accompanied by a career goaltending effort  to defeat rival Michigan 17-8  in Ann Arbor.  It was the inaugural lacrosse showdown in a sports rivalry begun in 1887. Freshman Mikey Wynne scored four times, while linemate Matt Kavanagh tallied three and set up three. Sophomore goalie Shane Doss recorded a personal high 13 saves in his first start of the year.  The third-ranked Irish improved to 2-0.

Shane Doss registered a personal best 13 saves.

Shane Doss registered a personal best 13 saves.

An early-rising crowd unlocked the doors of Conor O’Neil’s Irish Pub  in Ann Arbor for the pregame tailgate. There was much a buzz about the gourmet deli sandwiches Vasko and Kristina Perkovic had supplied the team on Friday. Once again, Jane and Geoff Marlatt organized a splendid affair, with the Landis, Collins and Perkovic familites assisting. It was an express event, with folks scurrying out by noon to secure seats in cozy Oosterbaan Field House.  Thanks to Charlotte and John Borbi for reserving the midfield section.  Tracy Byrne provided timely updates on out of town upsets, played in frigid temperatures and snow.  Continued thanks to Liza Near and Rob Kelly for the colorful supply of photos.  Lastly, thanks to the boys for opening doors to The Big House.  Empty, with much of the field snow covered, it’s still impressive.

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Osello thundering from X

Nick Osello stampeding at X.

The game began with Senior Nick Osello setting the tone,  driving his 6-1 frame through two Wolverines in the game’s initial faceoff.  While Michigan would leverage the subsequent man-advantage to take a 1-0 lead, Notre Dame got offensive, forcing the Wolverine goalie to make four splendid saves, with two more dingers clanking off pipes.  Despite a low scoring quarter, the Irish controlled the tempo. With a little more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter,  freshman midfielder Brendan Collins scored his first collegiate goal to get the Irish on the board and tie the game at one.  Proud parents beamed. Shout outs came from every direction.   Following a save up top by Shane Doss, the ball was summoned to Matt Kavanagh, who held court in the right corner with less than 30 seconds remaining.  Kavanagh surveyed and with 14 ticks to go,  the Irish All-American darted, dodged and flicked and suddenly, it was 2-1 ND after one period.  The full house adjacent to the Big House, got quiet.

Brendan Collins scored his first collegiate goal.

Brendan Collins scored his first collegiate goal.

With the start of the second quarter, Junior Midfielder Cole Ricardi would extend ND’s lead to 3-1. Following another forced turnover, the Irish strung several short passes to reach Mikey Wynne, home alone on the UM doorstep.  Poised and clever, Wynne would pull the goalie out of the net with a quick fake before feeding Kavanagh, who waved his stick with one hand, placing the ball magician-like in the back of the net to extend the Irish run. Wynne would be repaid, taking a pass seconds later  from Connor Doyle  to put Notre Dame up 5-1 with 11:23 remaining in the first half. The play started with a nifty defensive steal by sophomore Bobby Collins. Kavanagh wasn’t done.  Tracking down a loose ball in the corner, he lofted a high, arching pass to center fielder Jim Marlaat, who caught the lazy pop fly and quickly ripped a low laser past the Michigan netminder, 6-1 ND!   Eddy Lubowicki entered the game and quickly contributed, scoring his first of the year at the eight minute mark.   Wynne would strike again, this time on the man advantage before home-grown Sergio Perkovic would finish a 9-0 Irish run with an eight goal lead. Kyle Runyon and Jack Sheridan entered the game at attack and defense, respectively.  Michigan would end a 23-minute drought, scoring with 47 seconds remaining.  The first half ended with Notre Dame in front, 9-2.

Mikey Wynne scored four versus Michigan

Mikey Wynne scored four versus Michigan

While the offense clicked, the defense stifled, with Michigan struggling to clear.  Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Eddy Glazener disrupted  movement and intercepted passes. LSM’s Henry Williams and John Sexton denied cutters and collected loose balls. Middies Jack Near, Nick Koshansky and Bobby Collins bumped and poked, keeping Wolverine shooters on the perimeter. A contrast of two offenses – the Irish were buzzing around the net while Michigan shot from downtown. In the second quarter, ND outshot UM 15-7 while forcing five turnovers. The Irish offense converted on 40% of their possessions compared to UM at 21%.

The second half began with Wynne scoring on a pass from Osello.  Michigan would answer and threaten again with a two-man advantage.  The Irish defense, that now included Pat Healy, was up to the task. With the Michigan trailing 11-5, Connor Doyle extended the lead back to eight, coming from behind the net to tuck one in low while in full flight.   Opting not to turn this into a track meet, Michigan slowed the pace on the next few possessions, which the officials welcomed by turning on the 30-second timer.  UM would show good ball movement, scoring and closing  to 12-6.  Enter Kavanagh, from his corner, going right to left, he fired a low to high laser, his third of the day, netting the Irish a 13-6 advantage.

Matt Kavanagh scored three and set up three.

Matt Kavanagh scored three and set up three.

PJ Finley, picking up where he left off from last week, won the ensuing faceoff to close out the quarter.  He went 6/8 for the day, with Nick Osello finishing 10/19 and freshman John Travisano winning one out of two.

Connor Doyle  extends the Irish lead.

Connor Doyle in flight to extend the Irish lead.

The fourth quarter began with another crushing hit by Osello and goals by Doyle, Trevor Bosco and Perkovic from downtown.  A 16-6 lead brought about a UM goalie switch, which sophomore Anthony Marini greeted with his first collegiate goal. He was the 10th Irish player to score on the day, the 13th player to score this year. Through two games, the Irish have netted 31 goals while allowing 20.  Two late Wolverine goals would finish the scoring in a 17-8 victory.  Next up for the Irish is Dartmouth on Saturday in South Bend at 1:00.  ESPN 3 will broadcast.  The Big Green dropped their season opener to Ohio State in Columbus, 15-5.  See ya Friday! Go Irish.

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Irish Wynne Opener

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Piper Ed Glazener led the Irish.

Notre Dame rode a record offensive performance en route to a 14-12 Wynne over Georgetown in The Loftus Sports Center this past Saturday. It was the season opener for both teams. Freshman attackman Mikey Wynne scored six goals in his Irish debut, tying the record for most goals scored in a home game. He likely established a new team mark for goals in a collegiate debut.  The day was filled with subplots.

The contest was moved indoors due to temperatures in the teens and whiteout conditions. Cancelled flights and treacherous highways delayed and stranded parents en route to South Bend.  We’re grateful Kevin Doyle arrived.  Our first tailgate, hosted by the Kelly, Travisano, Near and Marini families, was warm and welcoming.  The ACC Room at Ivy Court bustled, with food, photos and anticipation. The journey across the street to Loftus was halted momentarily by swirling winds and a white wall of snow. Visibility  was zero.

GTwonTailgate4NDGtowntailgate2 Inside Loftus, Eddy Glazener led the team onto the field for the first time as the Piper, with the Irish sporting new Under Armour apparel.  While the home team carried the game early, Georgetown scored first with some unwelcome traffic in the crease.  ND would answer, with three quality shots before Wynne took a pass from Sergio Perkovic and scored to tie the game, 1-1.  The Irish would never trail again.

Consecutive goals by Wynne on assists from Matt Kavanagh put the Irish up by two before Jack Near fed Perkovic, who’s howitzer scorched the net for a 4-1 ND lead. NDGtowntailgate

 

With three minutes remaining in the first quarter and Goalie Connor Kelly yet to see a second shot, the outcome appeared to be following the script predicted by the experts. But this Georgetown squad had other ideas,  executing precisely to score and close to 4-2 at the end of the first quarter.  Kelly would then face three consecutive shots in the second quarter, as the Hoya offense moved well without the ball, leading to their third goal,  4-3.  A CK stop point blank preserved the  lead, with the transition in full gallop.  A precise pass from Kavanagh to Perkovic, who side stepped two Hoyas, before firing his second goal of the game. Again, Georgetown answered immediately, 5-4.  Faceoffs and subsequent ground balls were in the hands of Nick Osello, PJ Finley and freshman John Travisano.  But the Hoyas were picking up 50%  of the loose balls and moved quickly to tie the score at 5 with 8:27 remaining in the first half.  Will Corrigan answered on an unselfish pass from Connor Doyle to put the Irish back in front, 6-5.  Finley, who picked the subsequent faceoff clean, got on a roll that would serve the offense well the balance of the game.  After two point blank saves by the freshman Georgetown goalie, the Hoyas showed a transition game of their own, tying the score at 6-6.  Exploiting a man advantage, junior Eddy Lubowicki threaded a laser to Mikey Wynne, who deposited quickly for a 7-6 Irish lead.

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PJ Finley won critical faceoffs in the second half.

Matt Kavanagh followed,  dancing to separation before firing a sidewinder the Hoya goalie never saw with just four seconds left in the half….8-6 Notre Dame at the intermission.

Kav's side-winding buzzer beater/

Matt Kavanagh’s side-winding buzzer beater at the half.

Credit Georgetown, they wouldn’t go away and would score first in the second half, despite a crushing hit that middie Nick Osello delivered along the sideline. Doyle would then score, unassisted to widen the lead, 9-7.  Again, Finley managed the subsequent draw, with Jack Near picking up the loose ball and scoring unassisted for a 10-7 lead.  Time to pull away – not so fast!  After one Hoya shot rang off the crossbar, a second found the back of the net.  With the score 10-8 and 8:15 left in the third,  sophomore goalie Shane Doss entered the game for Notre Dame.

Nick Osello would provide the Loftus crowd with a Sports Center moment. Rushing across midfield with the ball, he slowed, squared up and accelerated, leading with his shoulder through a Hoya defenseman.  Down went the Hoya, with Osello launching a shot while falling to the ground….scoring for an 11-8 lead.  Those anticipating more of the same saw  two transition goals by Georgetown, reducing the lead to a single goal, 11-10 after three periods.  A man-up goal by Georgetown early in the fourth, tied the score at 11.  A season opening thriller, remained unexpectedly tight, when Sergio Perkovic scored on a pretty spin move.  Eight seconds later,  Mikey Wynne struck again, putting the Irish up by two, 13-11.  Exhale?  Not today. The Hoyas answered with rapid ball movement,  narrowing the deficit to 13-12.

Enter the shot clock,  making its physical debut with 1:22 remaining.  With the Irish patiently positioning the dagger, the clock ticked.   As he had all game, Wynne moved well off ball, catching and depositing a precision pass from Perkovic to seal an Irish 14-12 win.   With just 29 seconds remaining, Matt Landis came in to take the final faceoff, which the Irish won to begin the season for the 13th consecutive time, victorious.  Cue the fight song.

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Mikey Wynne (#24) scored six goals in his collegiate debut.

 

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Irish privately bestowed senior Henry Williams with the #40, which honors former Notre Dame captain Mike Sennett. A three-time monogram winner, Sennett played attack and was known as a selfless player and teammate.  A native of Detroit and graduate of Brother Rice High School (Sergio Perkovic), Sennett  evangelized lacrosse in Missouri, settling in St. Louis after receiving his degree from Notre Dame in 1991. He founded and coached DeSmet High School’s lacrosse program from 1992 – 2007, where he would win six state titles.  He went on to coach state, regional and national teams, with dozens of players reaching the collegiate level and several earning All America honors. He was elected into the Missouri Hall of Fame in 2005.  He coined a “Count on Me” cheer as his teams broke huddle.The chant instilled a sense of accountability with his players. He was coaching in a tournament outside South Bend in 2007, when he died suddenly.  He was 38.   In his honor, members of the DeSmet High School community established The Mike Sennett Count On Me Foundation, providing scholarship, mentoring and lacrosse instruction to economically disadvantaged youth in the St. Louis metro area.  His #40 hangs in the player’s lounge at Arlotta Stadium as a reminder of the team’s values. Congratulations Henry!

Ned and Henry Williams

Ned and Henry Williams

"Count On Me"

“Count On Me”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is Michigan, now in its fourth year of Division I competition.  The Wolverines are 2-0, defeating Bellarmine (16-9) and Detroit (15-6). They too had an attackman score six goals last week.  The game is scheduled for 1:00 in the Oosterbaan Field House.  Pre and post game activities will be confirmed later the week.  See you Friday……and of course…………..

NDGtownGo Irish

Climb Aboard

Saturday can’t come fast enough.

Last year’s journey was a culmination for seniors, an unforgettable chapter for the underclassmen and an amazing introduction to newcomers.  We were treated to unmatched caliber of play, competing against Duke, Denver and Syracuse teams the smart money predicted to win championships.   We launched in Jacksonville, rallied in Carolina and basked in California before hosting Virginia indoors. We plowed through Ohio snow, ate barbecue in Syracuse and gave thanks over an  Easter mass and meal.  We ran through Philly like Rocky,  stunning Maryland and knocking out Syracuse in a heavyweight title fight.  Momentum grew, tailgates swelled, a season was saved with our first ACC title.

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Winning the ACC and securing an NCAA berth.

An offensive battle with Army would be followed by a workman-like victory against Harvard.  On to sun-drenched Hofstra, where drones hovered above our largest tailgate of the year. A crowd exceeding 13,000 witnessed an epic showdown.  Not one, but two would-be Tewaaraton winners dazzled in what experts called the game of the year. Legend has it, we were down by five with eight minutes remaining against the game’s most powerful offense.  But a 10-man ride brought chaos, spurring a 6-1 Irish run and overtime.  Who was breathing?  Nobody changed seats, removed beads or turned hats.  With the ball and our fate in his hands, the local lefty two-stepped the Albany defense backward, while firing a low liner that skidded past a tiring net minder. Sidelines emptied, the Irish danced, coaches exhaled and the proud faithful lit cigars long into the night.

The Laser

The local lefty unleashes the game winner in OT.

The Final Four was an experience.  Media interaction, Fan Fest, a homecoming for many, with old friends and new. Our senior parents raised their game with a tailgate for the ages. Everyone was Irish. On the field,  another magical day, as a physical defense forced 19 turnovers en route to an 11-6 victory. Our super sophomore scored five goals and suddenly what began on February 16 would now conclude on May 26 with the final two.

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Addressing the media and fans in Baltimore.

The Championship confirmed our identity.  Talented, deserving, resilient and proud.  The champion laid out the challenge, surgically opening an 8-2 lead.  The challenger would respond, scoring seven of the next nine, closing to within 10-9 late in the fourth. Still down by one with 49 ticks left, Duke would gain a critical possession and prevail.  Our first national championship would elude us.  A season few will forget was over.  Two days later, Ciao Italia!!  The team touched down in Italy, closing the book on 2014.

That brings us to Saturday….a chance to finish the unfinished. We’ll reacquaint with Georgetown and seed a rivalry in Ann Arbor, before welcoming Dartmouth to a thawed Arlotta.   Our duel in Denver could pit  #1 vs #2, with two explosive offenses and hall of fame coaches.  The schedule intensifies with Virginia, Ohio State, Syracuse and defending champion Duke.  Charlottesville and Raleigh promise high-stakes lacrosse and unforgettable barbecue. Home cooking will return for games against Marquette and Carolina.  The ACC Tournament will return to Philadelphia, where the Irish have played like the home team, unbeaten at PPL Park in three outings.  Despite the ACC carrying only five teams this year, the tournament winner will receive an Automatic Qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.  We’ll finish the regular season at iconic West Point, a spectacular setting with a dangerous team.

The ultimate destination is The Final Four, also in Philly.  A few of the experts are predicting a national champion who’s not yet worn the crown. Might this team ring the Liberty Bell on Memorial Day?  Let’s start with Georgetown.

Ready for Georgetown!

Winter Finale

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Pulling into South Bend this past Friday,  there were signs the impending  lacrosse season would soon Spring.  Joggers were plentiful, many in shorts, a few in t-shirts. Baseballs were in the air, with batters hacking and pitchers throwing. People were out, ignoring the snow on the ground and the falling temperatures.  February was knocking, which meant lacrosse and a much anticipated schedule.

Our preseason doesn’t include official tailgating, but Saturday began with Ed Lubowicki graciously welcoming Air Force parents who had made the journey to Eddy Street.  Lubo is a long-time lacrosse ambassador and passionate about the Irish. The Connolly´s made the trip again this week, as did Paul Finley.  As we exchanged the details of our travels,  everyone’s attention shifted to departures. Snow scheduled to dump more than a foot would arrive Saturday night. Now with the January finale set to start, the Healys, Epples and Marlatts joined us at midfield, with the balance of parents following via text and email.

Air Force is coming off their best season since 1988,  posting a 9-7 record in 2014. Wins over Ohio State and Fairfield enabled them to win the ECAC  Championship. The Falcons went on to earn their first-ever NCAA Lacrosse Tournament victory with a win over Richmond.  Coach Eric Seremelt and Assistant Coach Bill Wilson were named National Coach and Outstanding Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively.  With 14 senors graduating, a younger team entered the toasty Loftus Center for a scrimmage with ND.

Lax at Loftus

Lax at Loftus

The tale of the first half  for the Irish was an opportunistic offense and a smothering defense. The defense was led by middies Jack Near, Nick Koshansky, Bobby Collins and freshmen Brendan Collins and Patrick Headley. Stout and agile, this unit denied and banged.  Long poles Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Ed Glazener defended and distributed, immoveable in the process.  Sophomore Pat Healy continued to spell each,  contributing quality minutes. Throughout the first half, each Falcon possession was halted on the perimeter, with few passes reaching the attack and even fewer resulting in shots for goalie Shane Doss to handle.  Doss was near perfect in the half on the five or six shots he faced.

On offense, the Irish struck first, when sophomore Eddy Lubowicki finished in tight on a nifty pass from Connor Doyle. After Air Force tied it  1-1, Lubo fed freshman Mikey Wynne for a goal and an ND lead they would never relinquish. With Nick Osello, PJ Finley and John Travisano each winning faceoffs, possessions were plentiful. Lubowicki and Sergio Perkovic each scored to end the first quarter.  Leading 4-1, ND  went right back to the offensive, with Perkovic converting a nice pass from Osello for an Irish score.  Osello and Perkovic running down field in tandem reminds me of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  Jim Marlatt scored to make it 6-1 before Connor Doyle threaded a laser to Eddy Lubowicki, who finished on the doorstep for his third goal of the half. The play started with Garrett Epple forcing a turnover, the transition up field and Doyle’s tightly-placed pass. Moments later, Ed Glazener repeated the sequence, with a clever strip, fed the outlet pass to Sexton, who fed Mikey Wynne for his second goal and an 8-1 Irish halftime lead. The transition game was a thing of beauty from the sideline bleachers.

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A view from the bleachers

The second half began with Conor Kelly in goal, surrounded by Landis, Epple and Glazener.  Middies included Jim Marlatt, Trevor Bosco and Cole Ricardi.  Kelly recorded two saves in tight, before the Irish transitioned to offense, scoring on another missile fired by Sergio Perkovic, his third.  A 10-1 lead included a 9-0 Irish run.  Kelly made a few more difficult saves, before the Falcons would make a run of their own, scoring three straight to end the third quarter with the score at 10-4.  As the fourth quarter began, parents began discussing travel alternatives as the South Bend forecast worsened.  A larger amount of snow was now due to arrive earlier than originally forecast.  With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, your blogger threw the flag on Liza Near, who text from sunny Florida, confirming her poolside temperature – it was higher than the temperature inside Loftus .

Sergio Perkovic

Sergio Perkovic

Juniors Jack Sheridan and Thomas Stephan  entered the game to play defense, with Pierre Byrne, Trevor Bosco and Jim Marlatt now at midfield.  Bosco would score next for the Irish,  on a nice hustle play by Marlatt.  Soon Bobby Gray and Kyle Trolley would enter at midfield, with Kyle Runyon at attack.  It was Runyon who neatly fed Jack Near for the finally tally in a  13-5 Irish win.  The two teams played a fifth quarter, which also went to the Irish 4-1.  My tired eyes picked goals from Trolley, Ricardi (Borbi), Gray and Bartolo. Finley won three faceoffs, with Ben Pridemore,  Chris Carter, Logan Connelly and Alex Headley all playing well.

Matt Landis

Matt Landis

Air Force moves on to open the season against defending national champion Duke. The Irish open their regular season on Saturday, February 14 at 12:00 pm at Arlotta Stadium.  Let’s hope the snow melts, bodies heal and temperatures rise.  It’s been 10 months since last year’s title game.  The journey to Philly began that day.

Juuuust in case you can’t make it to sunny South Bend!

ESPN 2015 TV Lacrosse Schedule

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Getting Started

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Picking up where Fall lacrosse ended, the team continued preparations for the February opener with a few January headlines.

Captains were selected with seniors Jim Marlatt, Connor Doyle and Jack Near getting the nod from their teammates.  Marlatt is serving his second term.  This past Friday, Near and Doyle along with midfield teammate Nick Osello were drafted in the 2015 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft.  On Sunday, the Irish returned to the field with a solid  effort against a sound Bellarmine squad.

Friday evening’s MLL draft included several names you’ll recognize.  Tewaaraton co-winner Lyle Thompson,, who dazzled last year in our epic NCAA quarterfinal game versus Albany, was selected first overall by the Florida Launch.  Just six slots behind Thompson was athletic Irish midfielder Jack Near.  The senior from Bronxville, New York will stay in his home state, playing for Rochester.

Jack Near

Jack Near

Attackman Connor Doyle was selected in the sixth round as the 43rd overall pick.  Doyle will also stay local, getting the call from the hometown Chesapeake Bayhawks.  Continuing with the local trend, Nick Osello was drafted in the eighth round as the 60th pick by his native Denver Outlaws, the reigning MLL champion.    Of the top five selections, the Irish played against four them in 2014 – Thompson (A- Albany). Will Haus (M-Duke), Ryan Tucker (M-Virginia) and John Glesener (A-Army).

Connor Doyle

Connor Doyle

Sunday’s scrimmage with Southern Conference, pre-season favorite Bellarmine, began in the Loftus Center with snow falling at Arlotta.  Bellarmine from Louisville,  finished 2014 with four consecutive wins, 7-5 overall.  The Knights began Sunday scoring first after two early saves by Irish goalie Connor Kelly. Nick Osello and Junior Matt Kavanagh scored for the Irish, with the first period ending deadlocked at 2.  The second quarter featured a very stingy Irish defense, led by sophomore Garrett Epple and  juniors Matt Landis and Eddie Glazener.  Midfielders also contributed, with Bob Collins, Nick Koshansky and freshmen Brendan Collins and John Sexton forcing turnovers and holding Bellarmine scoreless in the second quarter.  Another wave of defensive talent included  sophomore Pat Healy and Junior Jack Sheridan.

Nick Osello

Nick Osello

The offense heated up with a generous string of possessions, thanks to face-offs won by Osello, sophomore PJ Finley and freshman John Travisano.  Kavanagh, Brosco, Osello (2), Eddie Lubowicki (2) and Sergio Perkovic brought the crowd to their feet with seven consecutive goals, for a 9-2 halftime lead.  The second half was more of the same, with Shane Doss between the pipes.  Kavanagh, Perkovic, Connor Doyle and Cole Riccardi each scored, expanding the Irish margin to 15-3 after 3.  Doss, Landis, Lubowicki and Will Corrigan all set up beautiful scores, enabling the Irish to finish with a 19-4 victory.  Corrigan, Lubowicki, Kyle Runyan and Pierre Byrne rounded out the fourth quarter scoring.    Contribution from many, continuing what began in Seattle.

The Doyles and Connellys made the trip, with more expected this weekend.  My thanks to Rob Kelly and Paul Finley for providing me remote eyes and texts. Next up is Air Force, scheduled for noon on Saturday in the warm confines of Loftus.  Until then……….