Lacrosse: Thrilling comeback to beat Marquette!

Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (6-4, 1-2 ACC) beat Marquette (5-5, 2-1 Big East) in thrilling fashion, 7-6.  The Irish scored twice in the last 45 seconds of the game to get back on track with an important road win.

The Scoring

There wasn’t a lot of scoring, but it was supremely balanced, and with assists in 5 of 7 of the goals.  Willets, Jordan Walter (first career goal!), Thomas McNamara (first career goal!), Drake, Sexton, Costabile and Garnsey had a goal each.  Garnsey also had two assists, while Jackoboice, Jake Frane (first time on scoresheet!) and Byrne had one assist each.

Schmidt had 8 saves, 7 of them in the 2nd quarter.  Cohen picked up three ground balls, while Sexton had one and a caused turnover to go with his goal.

The Irish had a rough day at faceoff, winning only 3 of 15, and fell way behind in ground ball totals, 15 to 25.  The Irish were, however, a perfect 15 of 15 in clears, had only 9 turnovers, and were a healthy 2 of 4 man-up.

The Plot

The Irish had some early good-looking possessions but did not score until Willets scored on a man-up opportunity on a nice pass from Garnsey.  Marquette responded with three straight, putting pressure on Notre Dame.

Some new faces responded, with an early offense dodge by Jordan Walter, followed by an outside shot by Thomas McNamara on a pass from Jackoboice to tie it up.  Marquette got another to end the half 3-4.  Schmidt got going in the 2nd with 7 saves.

in this game the Irish fortunately didn’t have their customary 3rd quarter nap, with goals by Drake and Sexton (assisted by Frane) to regain the lead.  The Golden Eagles scored two of their own to retake the lead, and it looked like their possession and faceoff dominance would let them take the air out of the ball and run out the clock.

However, the Irish had other plans.  Costabile scored high with 42 seconds left to tie the game.  Travisano was clutch and finally won a faceoff clean.  Byrne inverted behind the net and found a cutting Garnsey for the game winner with 14 seconds left!

Analysis

The final score and the late heroics it took to achieve it hide what was actually a very decent game by the Irish.  There are many positives to discuss.

To get them out of the way, the main negatives were the difficulties at faceoff as the combination of Travisano and Leonard only managed 3 wins in 15 draws.  Marquette’s Mellilo was also predominantly winning them clean, taking the powerful Irish wings out of the equation.  Additionally, Notre Dame was frustrated in the ground ball game.  The had a lot of success getting the ball to the ground, but a whole lot less success picking it back up.  The result was an extremely low total of 26 possessions for the Irish that severely constrained their offensive efforts.

Defensively, the Irish were excellent.  The settled defense of Crance-Cohen-Kielty in the back and Sexton-Millican-Schantz up front is essentially impenetrable, and subbing in Hadley, Phillips, Gaiss or Cassidy isn’t a step down.  Marquette’s success on offense (to the extent you can call 6 goals after owning 60+% of the time of possession a success) came in fast-break and early offense, or in possessions where one or more offensive players got caught back on defense.  Schmidt had a much improved game saving over 50%.

Factoring in the low number of possessions, the offense was reasonably efficient and effective. With a “normal” number of possessions, the game would project to be a double-digit total and a significant gap to the Marquette score.  Credit is due to Marquette for their game plan to keep it close, but the offense was objectively better than it has been for quite a few weeks.  Still a lot of room for improvement, but clearly better.

The fact that the initial goal broke the man-up scoreless streak, and also that the next two were from new contributors Jordan Walter and Thomas McNamara, truly helped change the dynamic on offense and infused some good energy.   The assists by freshmen Jackoboice and Frane proved the Irish can expand their scoring base.  Of course, there were many possessions where Notre Dame reverted to old habits with ineffective and obvious dodges, but the game will be remembered for the emergence of a second midfield line of McNamara, Jordan and Gaiss (who was wearing the important #40), and more experimentation in the two-man game behind the cage with Garnsey trying out new partners.  The latter didn’t yield goals, but it showed promise.

The percentage of assisted goals shows off-ball movement was improved, and the performance in the supporting cast seems to have inspired Costabile and Garnsey as evidenced by the fluidity of their game-tying and game-winning goals.  Finally, the teams seems closer to a breakthrough in transition opportunities with a goal and other shots by Sexton, and the willingness to let Schantz and Phillips linger on the offensive side.

We are not saying the offense was perfect, or even adequate, but it is vastly improved over what we saw against Syracuse and Duke.  It appears a lot of this had to do with the emergence of a supporting cast that took pressure off the offensive leaders, and a willingness generally to experiment with new plays.  Some will complain that the total output was deficient against a team barely in the top third, but credit is due Marquette for their game plan and the fact that they are a high quality defense themselves.  And, and Coach Byrne noted in a tweet after the game, the Irish scored enough to win.

The Irish still have no margin for error in their next few games, but the glass is half full.

Airing if Grievances

  • We are disappointed in some snarky ND message board comments about the Notre Dame official pregame article for the game that was headlined with a picture of the boys praying before the Duke game.  Folks, we are a Catholic university, the boys should be encouraged in this regard, not mocked.  Please stop.
  • Now we’ll jump off our soapbox and take a less-than-Christian roll in the gutter ourselves to address tweets complaining about the late Irish timeout that was called just before Travisano lost the ball.  ND-Atl 2.0 suggests people can complain all they want, and while we may disagree on their interpretation of the call, it can nonetheless be chalked up to karma for Marquette and U.S. National Team coach Joe Amplo unceremoniously cutting Matt Landis from the United States team for the 2018 World Cup to be played Israel this summer.  Our younger Team ND-Atl member is capable of serious and long-lasting grudges.
  • We’ll await a complaint from the hypocrisy police.  🙂

 

The Irish have a well-earned break before they travel to play North Carolina next Saturday.

#GoIrish

By |2018-05-09T22:25:21+00:00April 13th, 2018|18S Reads, Lacrosse|2 Comments

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The timeout was fine. That timeout gets awarded every time it gets called. OSU called a similar one against us in that game, timeout complaints are sour grapes.

It was great to get some offensive heroics, but it does seem worryingly likely that this is about as good as the offense can be down the stretch, which doesn’t lend to much optimism for a post season run. We’ll see though, because the defense is legitimately great.