Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (RPI #7  8-5) defeated Duke (RPI #3 11-4) in Chapel Hill, 12-10.  The next stop for the Irish is the ACC championship game versus Virginia in Charlottesville, Saturday at 2:00, ESPNU.

The team’s prospects for an NCAA tournament berth look secure.  We’ll be brief with this recap and try to focus on the positive momentum.

The Scoring and the Data

Matthew Schmidt:  EIGHTEEN saves.

Costabile led the Irish scorers with 5 goals.  Morin and Jackoboice  had 2 goals and an assist each.  Also scoring for Notre Dame were Kielty (1 a),  Willets (1 g), Gleason (2 a), Leonard (1 g) and Westlin (1 g, 1 a).

Leonard was also strong at faceoff X winning 17 of 26.

CJ Carpenter led Duke with 4 goals.

Shots and ground balls were about even.  Duke was a little more careful with the ball turning the ball over 12 times to the Irish’s 16.

Notre Dame was 2-4 man-up, Duke 3-4.

The Irish had 55% of the possession with 44 possession to Duke’s 40.  They were also a bit more deliberate going to the cage 43 seconds into the possession versus 37 seconds for Duke.

Notre Dame was 27% efficient, while holding the Blue Devils to 25%.

The Plot

Costabile got the game off to a great start with two goals, and the team building on them for an early 4-1 lead.  The Blue Devils caught up, but the Irish went on a run late in the half and entered the break up 8-4 and Schmidt saving everything in sight.

Early in the second half the Irish extended the lead to 10-5, but Duke methodically clawed back while preventing Notre Dame from scoring a finalizer.  Things got a bit worrisome as the opponent got to within a goal at 11-10.

With about a minute and a half left, the Irish seemed to have the game under control, but they missed an empty-net goal to put Duke away.  Fortunately, Jack Kielty intercepted the ensuing Duke clear attempt and fired the ball back to Costabile, who made sure the next effort found the back of the cage to seal the victory.

Take a look also at the field-level hype highlights:

Pregame Questions

The Irish answered most of our questions well:

  1. Adjusting to Brad Smith:  The Irish had great success slowing Smith and Montgomery.  The defensive midfield was able to hold long enough to delay the need for slide help, and therefore kept Duke from exploiting movement.  To the extent Duke scored, it was man-up, transition, and on the rare occasion they beat their man.
  2. Know the Duke defense:  The offense did well rotating the ball away from Duke doubling pressure.  With the Blue Devils committing to locking down Gleason, the Irish found plenty of openings for Costabile and Morin in particular.
  3. Be closers:  Not exactly perfect in this department, but it must be noted that Duke’s Uppgren had a pretty good day in goal, too, finding ways to save the in-close efforts from Willets and Morin.  Sometimes it’s a day for the goalies.

Odds and Ends

This game will be known for the tremendous positives.  The two opposing goalies had great games, but Schmidt’s 18 saves were tops.  Credit also to the defense for mostly only allowing shots that gave Schmidt a good chance to succeed.

Costabile’s first two goals were made for the highlight reel, but let it not go unnoticed that every goal in this game was highlight worthy.  There was some fancy shooting going on.

It wouldn’t be fair if we avoiding expressing any concerns.  It’s become noticeable that the rotation at SSDM has gotten very short.  We’d like to see more guys see the field and reduce risk, but we also recognize Virginia and the NCAA tournament are not opportunities to put in new players to get defensive experience.

It’s fair to say the semifinal win against Duke was a big deal.