Notre Dame men’s lacrosse lost this Sunday to Denver 11-10 on a buzzer-beater goal by the Pioneer’s Connor Cannizzaro.  Once again, it was an epic battle as has been the tradition between these western lacrosse powers.



The game followed the familiar plot played by these teams so many times. Denver went up a few goals early, the Irish tied in 6-6 at the half, and teams exchanged goals until Notre Dame was up 10-9 with just over three minutes to play.  Denver tied it on a 6-on-4 extra man opportunity, then Trevor Baptiste won his 19th faceoff of the game for the Pios. Denver coach Tierney ate up the rest of the clock including burning two time outs with the referees absurdly refusing to start the 30-second shot clock until there were only 27 seconds left.


(Edit 3/14/17 highlight video added)

We’ll begin with a caveat:  we watched this game while deep in the woods on a mobile phone using a stream that did not have a full screen option.  As such, we had little opportunity to discern detail and nuance.  On the bright side, we think we earned a “how to clandestinely use electronics in the forest” merit badge.

Ryder Garnsey (2g, 4a) and Mikey Wynne (2g, 2a) were a powerful duo that led the Irish scoring. Drew Schantz hammered home 2 goals in transition, with Brendan Collins, Willets, Costabile and Perkovic also tallying goals (note:  the Irish are continue to get effective production from their freshman).  Shane Doss had 13 saves, many of them clean grabs that led to fast breaks.  It was also a tidy game with only 8 Notre Dame turnovers.

The EMO was improved, succeeding in 3 of 5 opportunities, but the defense also gave up 4 of 6 opportunities.  The defense didn’t force many turnovers,  but that seemed to be by design.  The faceoff situation was very problematic, more on that below.

Our pregame three questions were a bit off the mark, but lets review anyway:

-Can Notre Dame limit the length of Denver possessions?  Let’s be frank, Trevor Baptiste won this game single handedly for Denver, winning 80% of his faceoffs.  This is such a ridiculously high number that one must wonder how Notre Dame was even in this game.  Taking Baptiste’s faceoffs and related ground balls out of the equation, the Irish had a noticeable statistical advantage in just about every category.  The defense and goalie Shane Doss played a disciplined game and limited the Pios despite their huge advantage in starting possessions (19 faceoffs to 4).  Our thoughts that Notre Dame would look to extend and force turnovers did not come to pass, as there were very few caused turnovers and it was not the focus of this defense.  The notable exception was in the final, fatal play, where Epple over extended when Cannizzaro briefly dropped the ball, taking himself out of position to make a play on Cannizzaro’s final dive.  Finally, possession length was the clincher in the final play.  Tierney manipulated the referees into not starting the shot clock, allowing Denver to burn off a huge chunk of time looking for that final shot.

-Can the Irish avoid digging a hole for themselves? Notre Dame got off to a rocky start, but not like we’ve seen in the past.  They had it tied up by halftime and had a one-goal lead for large stretches in the second half.   In this sense, this rivalry game did not exactly follow the traditional plot.

-Will Perkovic start landing shots (week 4)?  Sergio had a quiet game by his standards, only taking two shots.  It seemed to us that he was not on the field for large chunks of time, and certainly the offense did not run through him.  We do not have an explanation and it will be something to pay careful attention to in the upcoming Virginia game.  However, when he did hit the scoreboard in the 4th quarter, it was a beautiful bomb from the restraining line, reminding us of his incredible range.


-So the #1 on Grace Hall will be turned off for a short while.  The Irish dropped slightly to #2/#3 in the latest polls.  There is a clear power block at the top between Notre Dame, Maryland and Denver, and then a huge logjam in the next 20 or so positions.  Even Michigan has crawled into the shadow of the top-20.  Unless another team emerges from the pack, it seems the three at the top are in the driver’s seat this season.

-Notre Dame will see a huge contrast in styles, from Denver’s methodical offense to next week’s Virginia game where the Irish will face Lars Tiffany’s 100+ possession a game wild attack.

-More than a handful of former Irish captains assembled to watch the game: