- Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (#11 3-2, 0-1 ACC) fell 11-13 to Virginia (#7 5-2, 2-0 ACC) in Charlottesville this Saturday.
The Irish get right back on the field this afternoon against Michigan (NR 3-3, 0-0 B1G) in Ann Arbor, 5:00 pm, ESPNU.
The Scoring in Charlottesville
McCahon opened and closed the scoring for Notre Dame with 2 goals. Also with 2 goals each were Willets (1 assist), Leonard, and Jackoboice (2 assists). Morin, Phillips and Costabile added a goal each. Gleason had 2 assists, and Stinn had an assist.
Laviano (5 goals) and Aitken (3 goals) led the Cavaliers.
The Irish finished behind in shots 31-46 (17-24). Schmidt absorbed most of the Virginia attack with 11 saves. The boys also converted 3 of 5 man-up opportunities.
The boys had a sloppy day with 22 turnovers to Virginia’s 13, and were behind in ground balls 36-40.
In addition to his two goals, Leonard had a good day at faceoff X, winning 15 of 26.
In the very unexpected statistics category, Virginia had 52% of the possession, and held the ball 40 seconds per possession to Notre Dame’s 34 seconds.
Since we also have to preview today’s Michigan tilt, we will be brief:
McCahon opened the scoring for Notre Dame, and despite some rusty play and challenges at even strength that put the Irish behind, the boys went on a 5-goal run to go into the half up 7-4. The Irish kept up the momentum early in the second half to extend to 10-5.
Fatigue started to set in and the Irish leaked a 7-goal Virginia run. The Irish tried to close the gap, but some untimely turnovers derailed comeback attempts and the game ended with the Irish down 11-13.
We weren’t too far off with our pregame questions:
- Limit turnovers: Nope. The Irish were challenged holding possession and had far too many turnovers. Notre Dame minimized the impact of these turnovers in the first half, but as they got fatigued, the inability to control possession directly led to the final Virginia run.
- Bench: The Irish second midfield had some good early runs, but as the game progressed they were more reliant on the defensive midfield depth where it was all hands on deck. 26 players saw the field in this 40+ possession game. As observers, it seemed the utilization of depth was often out of necessity rather than proactive. The Irish were rotating visibly tired players.
- Ground balls: Notre Dame was not far behind in the ground ball totals, but the timing in them was not ideal. Virginia was able to extend offensive possessions for inordinately long periods of time, and they controlled the middle of the field in the latter stages of the game.
Road games, especially at the end of Spring break, are very hard. The Irish were out of their routine for a long period of time and it showed. Quint Kessenich, in his Monday podcast, was very critical of the Notre Dame travels plans and blamed it for the late game challenges. Maybe it had something to do with the game play, maybe it didn’t, but it’s not something we will be critical about. #NDLXP is a wonderful feature of the program that we wouldn’t ask the players to forgo for a few more ground balls.
While the Irish had opportunities to extend their lead early in the game that lacked execution, and while they ran out of gas late in the game, it is also true that Virginia got inordinately lucky in the game, too. A great many bounces went their way that extended possessions to over two minutes in length. No one went into this game thinking this was part of the Virginia game plan, and certainly not the Cavaliers. 40+ second average possessions is nearly twice their target length.
Add to this that Schmidt and Leonard had great games in the specialist positions. We would rather this all resulted in a win, but on the road at the end of a break one shouldn’t hit the panic button over a loss like this. Perhaps we are just apologists, but the data seems to support our theories.
On to Michigan
Notre Dame has minimal time to recover before today’s game in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have had a middling year so far and are coming off consecutive unconvincing losses to Yale (in Atlanta) last week and at Marquette on Saturday. However, Michigan is still the same threat that surprised Notre Dame last year behind Brent Noseworthy’s 5 goals. While Costabile had a hat trick in that game, it was Garnsey’s heroics that kept the Irish in the game until the end. It must be said that we at 18 Stripes really want the Irish to take it to the Wolverines and hope the Irish share deeply in this desire.
Michigan Three Questions
Our focus will be on these three matters:
- Recover and Refocus: Short rest after the break will be a challenge. The Irish will need to keep focus on the road. The critical metric, as always, will be turnovers and ground balls, especially on the defensive end to end Michigan possessions.
- Don’t let Noseworthy score: Noseworthy’s height and abilty to operate in a crowd make him a unique challenge for this defense. The objective is simple enough, keep the ball out of his hands.
- 6-on-6: While transition and man-up offense were pretty decent against Virginia, the even strength offense faltered against a defense that probably shouldn’t have given them the trouble that it did. We hope to see more of the balanced even-strength attack that has been such a welcome feature of this year’s team.
Notre Dame -3, o/u 20 for those interested in that sort of thing.