Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (6-5, 1-3) managed to still qualify for the ACC Championships despite a frustrating 9-10 loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Even with their win, the season ended for UNC.
Our behind schedule 18 Stripes recap:
Bryan Costabile had three goals for the Irish, and Ryder Garnsey added two super-low angle magic shots that are his trademark. Byrne, Collins, Wynne, and McNamara had a goal each. Gleason returned to the lineup to add two assists, and Gaiss and Byrne has an assist each as well.
John Travisano was an excellent 16 of 21 at faceoff. Schmidt had 7 saves, and Arden Cohen had a notable defensive stat line of 7 ground balls and 2 cuased turnovers.
Notre Dame had a large advantage in shots, 41-30, but also one in turnovers, 15-10.
For North Carolina, Goalie Alex Bassil’s 14 saves were a game-changer.
The game broadcast opened with the ominous message that the tiebreaker rule in the event of a Notre Dame loss and and 3-way tie for the last ACC Championship berth was re-interpreted to mean North Carolina would only need to win by eight, and not by 12, to supplant the Irish, and that UVa would be guaranteed a spot if Notre Dame scored six goals or more. Not likely outcomes, but it did add some drama, and appeared to stifle the pace of the game.
The teams slowly exchanged goals until the Irish grabbed a brief 1-goal lead in the third. A terrible sequence at the end of the third led to the Irish giving up two poor goals and the lead. The Irish regained the lead in the forth, but a questionable penalty late in the 4th on Carlson Millikin led to two UNC goals and a lead they would hold onto. The Irish had good opportunities to score late, but a phantom crease violation by Wynne and a spectacular stop by Bassil ended hope of a comeback.
To cut to the chase, Notre Dame probably feels it let UNC win this one. The Irish dominated possession and took quality shots, but some very sloppy ball handling, inconsistent umpiring, and a great day by the UNC goaltender turned what should have been a 12-8-ish comfortable Irish win into a 9-10 loss. The frustrating thing, as Coach Corrigan noted, the players did what they need to do to win, but ultimately gave it away with losses in concentration.
On other news, Gleason and Costabile were back and performed well. However, Schantz took a bad hit in the second half and was helped off the field (Interesting that no penalty was called, but Millican’s solid defense later on was called a cross check).
The Net Result
As expected, the game was meaningless for ACC Championship seeding, with the Irish to play Duke in the semi-final on Friday as expected. However, the loss hurt the Irish badly in the eyes of the pollsters, to the point that their strength in the RPI will probably not be enough to get them into the NCAA tournament if there is any bid-stealing in the conference tournaments. This effectively makes the Duke game on Friday a play-in game for the Irish. Win in they’re in, lose and go back to South Bend to pray a few extra rosaries and visit the Grotto. It’s probably that simple.
We know we sound like crazed apologists, but the Irish shouldn’t be big underdogs to the Blue Devils. They always play Duke well, will have Costabile and Gleason back (unlike in their loss a few weeks ago), there is a decent second midfield line, the defense is playing very well, and the faceoff game is as good as it’s been in years. This is a recipe for success so long as they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. We have faith!