The boys did it! Notre Dame (3-1) finally took down the Denver Pioneers (4-2), 11-9 on a cold but sunny afternoon in South Bend. The Irish jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first, and let the defense control the action the rest of the way. The Denver six game streak is finally over!  Well done!

The Notre Dame highlights have not yet been posted, but the Inside Lacrosse clips are available here.

The Scoring

Brendon Gleason lead the Irish with 4 goals, Costabile with 3 goals, freshman Mikey Drake with his first 2 for the Irish, Willets with one, and 1 for the team, as Denver accidentally scored on itself early in the game.  Collins, Jackoboice and Wynne each provided an assist.

John Sexton led the defensive scoresheet with 4 ground balls and a caused turnover (Sexton may consider getting scorer Sarah Miesle a fruit basket to get on her good side as she appears to have shorted him a few GBs in his stellar game).  Patrick Hadley had a ground ball and 2 caused turnovers in one of his best games to date.  Matt Schmidt had 8 saves.

The stat of the day is clearly John Travisano’s 9 of 18 at the faceoff x.  While 50% may not sound like much, considering the Irish went 1 for 22 against Trevor Baptiste the last time these teams played, this was the critical statistic of the game.  Travisano gave 100%, with his effort no more evident than in this epic faceoff:

The Plot

The Irish jumped out to a huge lead, beginning with a nifty goal by Willets from Wynne, followed by a Gleason goal, then the Denver own-goal.  Mikey Drake had his first as a Notre Dame player on pure hustle from the substitution box after Sexton outwitted his defender.  Six minutes into the game it was 4-0 Irish, and 6-1 after the 1st quarter.

The defense did not yield and inch to Denver, and the Irish went into the half 8-2, and ended the 3rd quarter 10-6.  The fourth quarter got a bit tricky for the Irish as two, two-man down penalties helped the Pios get to within one at 10-9 with over 8 minutes left to play.  From this point forward, the defense shut things down, and after Costabile’s third to give the Irish an insurance goal, the Irish landed the well-earned win.

Reviewing our pregame thoughts

Jumping out to a huge lead turned the typical Denver-Notre Dame plot on its head.  Historically it was the other way around with the Irish struggling to find enough possession to catch up and win.  They had full energy from the first whistle and came ready to play.

Looking back at our pregame notes, we estimated the Irish would need 12 goals,  and to get there they would need to find 34 possession and score at 35% efficiency.  Notre Dame got awfully close, with 32 possession at a 35% clip getting them to the winning 11 goal total.  As we had hoped, they achieved this by improving from their Maryland performance at faceoff, and improving their caused turnover and ground ball numbers.  There wasn’t much success on fast breaks and early offense, but the Irish played almost 40% faster per possession than the Pios, so they didn’t chew their own clock in scoring goals.

Although offensive efficiency figures were comparable to what we hoped would be the case, the Irish won because the defense held Denver to only 25% efficiency and they controlled the middle of the field.  With long possessions and inefficient scoring, Denver was never on a trajectory to catch up to Notre Dame’s early total.  The final score flatters Denver a bit when one considers they were only able to close any gap after two rare double-penalties on the Irish at the tail end of painfully long possessions, with the Pios scoring twice 6 on 4.

Despite some early shot clock calls on Denver, our hope that the referees would finally regulate Denver’s anemic pace went wanting as the referees showed little interest as the game went on.  The issue of the shot clock is a common discussion in lacrosse media, and we believe the inconsistency shown in this game is a large reason why many are calling for a rule change.  Last week the methodical Maryland offense had the clock started on it nine times.  This week, the considerably (10%) slower Coach Tierney offense had the clock called only four times, and nearly never while the Denver offense futilely probed the Irish defense late in the game.  The rule that offenses must make progress to the goal should be consistently observed.


In addition to Travisano’s determined performance, we should recognize a few other nice things:

  • LSMs Sexton and Hadley had great control over the middle of the field, particularly noticeable in the effortless clears.  Again, this gave Denver no opportunity to catch up.
  • Matt Schmidt struggled a bit with the outside low shot, but he had five saves in the 4th quarter to help seal the win.
  • It was only for a brief look, but we were pleased to see Charles Leonard come out to face off.
  • Alex Hurdle and William Young were critical in a late game man-down defensive sequence.
  • SSDM Millikin, Gaiss, Schantz and Phillips came ready to play and were nearly flawless in negotiating Denver picks and two-man games.  Irish depth at this position is excellent and it shows game after game.
  • We also give Ryder Garnsey a star for taking one for the team.  He didn’t get as much time on the field as we would like, but he probed the Denver defense late in the game and took an absolute beating for it while the referees swallowed their whistles.  They may not have protected your safety, Ryder, but we recognize your effort.

Next up

Another top-10 matchup on deck for the Irish, with Virginia coming to Arlotta on Saturday, March 10 at 6:00 pm, ESPNU.  The last two editions of this game were OT thrillers.  In 2015 it was Sexton to Perkovic (with the famous Eamon McEnaney call), and in 2016 it was Epple to Garnsey for the win (and ND-Atl 2.0 all-time favorite viral celly video).




Thanks to and for publishing possession data.