Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (#10  5-4, 1-2 ACC) lost 8-14 to Duke (#7 9-3, 1-2 ACC) on Saturday.  Up next for the Irish will be the traditional midweek matchup against Marquette (NR  6-4, 2-1 Big East), Wednesday, 4:00 PM at Arlotta Stadium, Watch ESPN/ACC Network Extra.

Not an ideal road trip. Irish need to refocus quickly to avoid the Golden Eagles’ trap.

The Scoring and the Data

Connor Morin was the offensive star for the Irish with 4 goals and 2 assists.  Bryan Costabile had a goal and an assist, and Gleason, Willets, and Stinn had a goal each.

On the defensive side, Jack Kielty again stood out with 4 ground balls.  John Zullo got the start in goal and made 13 saves off of 27 shots.  The faceoff unit did well winning 15 of 26 draws (Leonard 13-23, Almeida 2-3).

Nakeie Montgomery (1 g, 4 a), Brad Smith (3 g, 2a) and Joe Robertson (3 g, 2 a) paced the Blue Devils.

Duke held a large shooting advantage, 36-28 (27-17 on goal), beat out the Irish at ground balls, 31-26, and had fewer turnovers, 13-16.

Both sides failed to convert any man-up opportunities (ND 0/5, Duke 0/2).  Both sides were near perfect on clears.  The net was 40 possessions to Duke, 38 to the Irish, with the Blue Devils 35% efficient and the Irish 21%.  Duke went to the cage a brisk 31 seconds into possessions, and the Irish slightly slower at 34 seconds.

Lots of Morin and Zullo highlights this week!


The Plot

We won’t dwell on this one.  It wasn’t a “burn the tape” game, as there are definitely teachable and positive moments, but also not a reason to pour salt in wounds.  We’ll be brief and move on to Marquette.

The day began with the announcement that Gleason would be playing and that John Zullo would get the start over Matt Schmidt.

Duke got on the board first, but the Irish responded with goals from Morin, Stinn (assisted from Morin), and Gleason to end the quarter up 3-1 and looking good.

It was downhill from here, with the Blue Devils scoring 6 in the second, to go into halftime up 7-5.  Duke didn’t look back and the Irish didn’t threaten in the second half.

It happens.

Our Three Questions and Notes

With Gleason playing and Zullo getting the start in goal, our pregame questions were off the mark.  We had a vibrant discussion within 18 Stripes about this one, but ND-Atl 2.0’s overall perspective prevailed:  Duke had their backs against the wall having lost two straight, and they were focused, desperate and playing at home.  The younger Irish didn’t have their A-game in Durham, no sense reading too much into the game.

  1. Who will soak up Van Raaphorst and Giles-Harris? Gleason was hounded by Giles-Harris all game and was limited as a result.  Van Raaphorst patrolled the other side, spending a lot of time with Costabile.  As hoped, this opened up opportunities from X and GLE, where Morin scored at will.  Unfortunately, the Irish spent way too much effort futilely trying to blast through the front door when the back was wide open.
  2. Costabile/Willets:  The pair combined for a 2 of 9 shooting state line. It would be unfair to pick at them specifically in this game.  There were a lot of whiffs and poor shots across the whole roster.  Watching the film the team may cringe at how many lay-ups were simply missed.  The good news is that even with the defensive pressure, they found ways to generate those lay-ups.  This is not a small thing, and it is a point to build upon.
  3.  Goaltending:  John Zullo got the start and made a respectable 13 saves.  Zullo is stylistically a much different goalie than Schmidt.  He’s a much bigger guy and take solid position square to the shooter.  As we saw on Saturday, he fills up the goal and doesn’t give shooters much net to see, but on the flip side, he gives up a lot more rebounds than Schmidt.  The saves were great to see and he did a good job, but he’ll need to focus on saving cleaner, as the rebounds make it hard to end possessions and generate very few break opportunities.  At the end of the day, saves are the most important part of the job, so Zullo’s first start should be considered a success.

The best news is that Morin scored at will.  Duke had no answer for him.  If only the boys got him the ball more!  Also, Leonard is consistently winning his draws and pushing the ball forward with an eye for the goal.  His shots weren’t the best against Duke, but they were definitely shots he needed to take and ones that will land if he keeps taking them.  Kielty also continues to make his mark cleaning up ground balls in front of the cage.  All good stuff!

It wasn’t part of our pregame focus, but the defense will probably cringe at some of the video.  On most possessions they were very good, but on others they telegraphed their slides looking to support the midfielders, and made clear to all of Durham where the open man would be.  Duke did not miss on those layups.  It’s not something they typically do, so one expects they’ll learn form this.

We did include a note that anything less that 40% success on man-up would be a missed opportunity.  At 0-5, the Irish will watch the film very dissatisfied.

A quick note on the Duke field conditions.  They were horrible and below Division 1 standard.  We got a lot of grief on twitter last year from the Duke grounds staff regarding our field comments.  We stand by our comments and double down.

The Marquette Trap

Wednesday’s match-up is historically a difficult one for the Irish.  Joe Amplo’s Golden Eagles are always a tough test.

Marquette comes to South Bend with a record of 6-4 and just outside of the top-20.  However, it must be noted they are playing at a level above what their record indicates.  A full third of the roster, including many starters, were suspended for part of the season.  Since their reinstatement they have played good and focused lacrosse.

The familiar names of Tanner Thompson, John Wagner and Andrew Romagnoli are the biggest scoring threats.  On defense, we enjoy watching the play of Nick Grill.

Last year, bagpiper Thomas McNamara and our second line had a very good game.  Look for them to produce a lot.  Also, the ride seems to have taken a few weeks off.  We anticipate some pressure being generated in the middle of the field.

Let’s hope the boys get Coach Corrigan his 300th win in Blue And Gold!

Season Outlook

Here’s where the hardcore schedule pays dividends.  No one likes to lose, but the Irish only need to play .500 here on out to feel good about the playoffs.  There list of quality wins will be competitive against anyone.  To keep the ACC tournament from being a crisis to get to .500, the Irish need to finish the regular season 2-1 or better (Marquette, # 8 Cornell, and #18 UNC, all at Arlotta).  We’d rather the boys not cut it close, but there is room to maneuver. Just keep getting better, eyes on the prize.