Notre Dame (2-1) lost Saturday to Maryland (5-0) in College Park. It was a difficult game for the Irish, with many positives to take from the game, but also a handful of challenges to address.
This game will be remembered for 3 goal 7 assist performance by Maryland’s Connor Kelly. More on this below, but everything that could go right for him, did.
For the Irish, Ryder Garnsey had a great day with 4 goals and an assist. Maryland native Wynne with 2 goals and 2 assists in front of several hundred of his closest friends, Pierre Byrne had 2 goals and an assist, Brian Willets with 2 goals, and freshman Mikey Drake with 2 assists.
Both teams had only 8 turnovers each. Notre Dame 11 saves to 9, Maryland 29 shots to 24, Maryland 23 ground balls to 13 (see faceoffs below).
Maryland got out to a two-goal lead to open the game on a man up goal after an early penalty to Arden Cohen, and then a goal on a lose rebound from Schmidt. Notre Dame quickly tied it at 2-2. Maryland basically stayed up by two all half, which ended with a buzzer beater by Connor Kelly from a long distance giving the Terps a 3-goal lead into the locker room. The second half was tighter, but with the Irish unable to close the gap. Molloy came in for Schmidt at goal mid-third, and the Irish we not getting any love at the face-off dot. The teams exchanged goals until the end, with the Terps finishing up two.
Inside Lacrosse’s highlights:
— Inside Lacrosse (@Inside_Lacrosse) March 4, 2018
Our pregame focus points;
- Bench length: Irish basically kept the same short rotation, but Garnsey has a more prominent role as the game wore on, and Jackoboice was on the field for more than just the man-up. We’ll note they had a deep rotation at the defensive midfield, and the Irish had only 26 offensive possessions and a huge time of possession deficit, so it’s not as though there was much of a need for a second midfield, frankly.
- Focus: The Irish didn’t allow any runs and had a very disciplined defense, but there were a few mental lapses. Loose rebounds, slow out of the substitution box, not keeping pressure near the end of the shot clock, and the buzzer beater to end the half. In a close game like today, these random errors were impactful.
- Face-offs: It was a struggle. 8 of 24, and there were a few failed clears in the 8. The boys at the draw did not get a single ground ball. The Irish double poled the wings, but the fight was generally over too fast for them to make any difference. Hyland came in for a few and was only moderately more effective, but apparently not 100% healthy (knee brace evident). Travisano took the vast majority of draws to little effect. We are not knowledgeable enough on the dark art of face-offs to diagnose the problem, but Travisano had historically at least had a good clamp. Today was not a good day for this unit. Next week may be a huge problem. We suspect the Irish will look to adopt Duke’s plan and look to force Baptiste to exit towards his own goal and put up a fight there.
- Pace: The Irish pushed with success on several occasions, there just weren’t many opportunities. Of note, while the defense forced the shot clock a incredible 9 times, the defense also had ZERO caused turnovers. Unsuccessful faceoff play, no caused turnovers, not many saves, and only 8 Maryland turnovers will simply not yield enough fast break opportunities.
- Garnsey is back and out of whatever coach’s doghouse he was in. It will be interesting and exciting seeing how the lineup shakes out next week with the magic man back in form.
- Our defensemen are all very, very fast. We don’t know why we hadn’t noticed this before.
- Connor Kelly may be the best player in the country, and may very well win the Tewaaraton, but we’re willing to bet he doesn’t connect on five 25-yd passes through traffic, while covered, for assists in the same game ever again. Those passes are so low percentage most players get benched for trying one, let alone five. And they all connected and resulted in goals. Good for Kelly, it was indeed fun to watch. Bad luck for ND that they were on the other side of this.
- The Irish may have a bit of a goalie controversy. Schmidt had a rough game. Not terrible by any means, but rough as any freshman is expected to have on occasion. Molloy, who was the heir presumptive to Doss before Schmidt stepped on campus, played well in relief. We are curious if there will be a change next week or if Coach Corrigan will simply keep the hook handy.
- Maryland’s goalie was not statistically any better that Schmidt and Molloy, but his saves came in more critical situations that kept the Irish from closing the gap or going on a run.
- There were a ton of strange stats that we typically don’t see in the same box score: for example, shot clock called on Maryland 9 times, but no caused turnovers and only 13 ground balls for the Irish.
- We are checking the historical stats, but the offense’s nearly 40% efficiency is likely the best we’ve seen from the Irish in quite some time. Ball movement was crisp and they took care of the ball. Had they found a way to get just a few more possessions, the result would have been different. A two goal loss with such a huge deficit in number and time of possession suggests good things of this offense.
- Possession time was very imbalanced with the Irish only possessing the ball 40% of the game.
- We watch the game a second time to confirm, but Crance covered Kelly well all game, it was just that rare day when every ill-advised pass magically connects.
- Sexton covered Rotanz most of the game and was able to neutralize him for all but one play.
- It was nice to see Byrne’s shots hit the back of the net. He had such bad shooting luck last year. We hope this will give him some confidence.
- Passing was crisp, fast and accurate. This was good to see and a building block for future games.
- Losing to the #2 team and defending national champions on the road on a windy day by only 2 while playing well is nothing to be upset about, but it does put a lot of pressure on the Irish the next two weeks against Denver and Virginia. Syracuse lost by a million at home to Albany and quickly recovered to beat Army. If they can right their ship, so can Notre Dame.
- Be prepared to see ridiculous overreaction in the media poll to this loss.
- Will we see Charlie Leonard added to the face off mix?
- We understand the short bench theory, but one injury and Notre Dame is in big trouble. We hope the coaching staff will consider our hope for Giant Freshmen ™ and get them some experience on the field. We want to see more Morin, Mirer, Cochran, Cassidy, who played earlier, and Frane, Allen, etc., along with the now sophomores who played well last year.
- We hated having to watch this game on the Big Ten Network out of general principle, but Mark Dixon and co. offered great commentary.
It was a tough game on the road against an excellent team that made very few mistakes and for whom nothing went wrong. A lot of teams would have given up the fight in this situation but the Irish did not and played good lacrosse until the final horn. They can build on this experience.
Up Next: The Western Rivalry next weekend at Denver comes to South Bend.