The Notre Dame Fighting Irish mens’ lacrosse team (#10 2-1, 0-0 ACC) took down the previously #2 and undefeated Maryland Terrapins (#7 5-1, 0-0 B1G) in overtime, 14-13.
The action was intense in the hot, crowded and noisy Loftus Sports Center, giving the 1000+ fans attending perhaps the most exciting Irish lacrosse game in years.
The Scoring and the Data
ACC Offensive Player of the Week Brendan Gleason led the Irish with 4 goals and an assist. US Lacrosse Player of the Week Brian Willets had his best game yet in the Blue and Gold with a hat trick and 2 assists, and Connor Morin added his own hat trick with an assist. Wheaton Jackoboice sent a Terrapin midfielder to the lost and found looking for his ankles with a goal and an assist, and Costabile, Mirer and Hallenbeck added a goal each. Westlin added to the scoresheet with 2 assists.
The faceoff tally was a rough 10 of 30 for the Irish, and the Terrapins nominally won the ground ball battle 36-26 (16-16 non-faceoff GBs). Jack Kielty led the Irish with 5 GBs.
The Irish outshot Maryland, 40-34, but with Maryland holding an edge, 21-24, in shots on goal.
Both teams committed 15 turnovers.
The Irish had a clear edge in transition, successfully clearing 17 of 19, and holding the opposition to 8 of 13.
Matt Schmidt had a good day in goal with 11 saves to Danny Dolans’ 7.
The Irish (30 seconds per possession) played much quicker than the Terps (45 sec.).
Notre Dame was 35% efficient on offense and held Maryland to 30%.
The Irish were 1-3 man-up, and succeeded in defending all three man-down situations.
Only 24 Domers saw the field, but time was very balanced among those that played.
Freshman McCahon, Almeida, Westlin, and Boyer saw action.
Cold weather brought the game and a large crowd indoors. ESPNU broadcast the game from field-level to give the viewers a very unique perspective.
Arden Cohen came away with the ground ball on the opening faceoff, but Maryland was able to cause a turnover and quickly score in transition. Connor Morin tied it for the Irish a few minutes later, but the Terps rattled off three more goals causing all sorts of worry among the Irish faithful.
Willets scored late in the quarter and was followed up quickly with a goal from Gleason to turn the momentum and end the quarter only down 3-4.
The Irish kept building momentum in the second quarter with the 2nd middie line being particularly threatening, including a goal from Mo Mirer followed by a transition goal from John Hallenbeck. The Irish ended the half up 7-5.
Maryland clawed back to tie early in the third, but then the Irish went on an incredible 4-goal run, beginning with 3 goals in 31 seconds. Maryland clawed back yet again and closed the gap to 11-9 to end the third.
Two Gleason goals had the fans thinking the Irish were comfortable, but Maryland was determined and fought back once again and tied the game with 16 seconds left. Charlie Leonard won the ensuing faceoff clean and sprinted for the goal. His shot hit the pipe, being redirected by the defender’s choke hold, and off to overtime the teams went.
The holding penalty gave the Irish the ball and man-up situation to open overtime. The Irish never relinquished the ball, and Brian Willets dodged in from X for a crease dive and the game winner, 14-13!!
Our pregame questions were generally answered favorably:
- Shot Clock: The 30 vs 45 sec average possession disparity tells you all you need to know about Maryland’s intentions. They ran possessions deep into the shot clock and were the beneficiaries of several shot clock resets off rebounds. Having said this, after an initial flurry, the Irish stayed organized on defense and limited most of the Terp opportunities to transition chances.
- Finishing: Much better! While the Irish only shot about 25%, they landed almost all their quality looks. The only notable exceptions were a wide shot after a highlight fake by Westlin, and Leonard’s chance as time expired. His defender had him in a choke hold, so there’s only so much he could have done. Westlin’s miss was a non-issue, as his fake was so deep, the entire defense collapsed and the ball quickly rotated to Costabile on the restart for a nearly unopposed shot. No harm done.
- Depth: To read the scorecard and see that only 24 players saw the field was quite a shock. In real time, it appeared the number would be much higher. However, the time was very balanced. The second middie line of Stinn, Mirer and McNamara saw a lot of quality time and was threatening throughout. Unlike Maryland, who rode their first midfield the whole game, the Irish were able to present a lot of different personnel looks. Further, Westlin (2 assists) got time in with a A/M hybrid role similar to Gleason’s which changed the dynamics of the offense. On the back end, the close D remained on the field throughout as has been the ND custom for some years. There is a defined LSM rotation of Restic and the freshman Boyer, and a 4-man SSDM rotation of Schantz, Phillps, Tyrrell, and Hallenbeck. Given the balance and only 39 possessions, it didn’t seem the Irish were static with personnel at all.
First, the importance of the early comeback, as well as the overtime win, cannot be overstated. Early in the game, it would not be unfair to say a lot of fans were worried the Irish were about to get boat raced. And when Maryland came back to tie, an overtime lose could have very easily been a season-defining soul crusher. Neither worry came to pass as the Irish showed great fight the whole game.
Second, the offense looked great when in full flow and when showing new looks. The Maryland defense came prepared to stop Costabile and the standard dodge patterns, and they succeeded in keeping a lid on him. However, the Irish had a lot of success moving the ball through X, and with quick passes once the slides came. There were some flat moments, but generally the offense looked good.
Third, because it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t note at least one area in need of improvement, Notre Dame was careless with the ball and at times showed poor ground ball technique. Loftus is a smaller-than-standard field, but the cramped conditions were not an excuse to lose out in routine ground ball plays in the defensive end. More importantly, it seriously skewed the faceoff possession numbers. Leonard came prepared to hold the clamp until the wings could arrive, and he was very successful at this. However, the normally reliable wings had a bad day and got beat far too often. We have no doubt this will be a point of emphasis in practice.
The low-angle camera was a great feature for the venue, and we must note guest commentator Mike Golic, Jr. was excellent. He came prepared and had great chemistry with the broadcast team.
Because is fooled everyone in real time, here’s the Westlin fake mentioned above:
— Inside Lacrosse (@Inside_Lacrosse) March 3, 2019
THE WESTERN RIVALRY
Notre Dame travels to Orange County, California, for a neutral-site night game versus their arch-rival, the Denver Pioneers. Saturday, 10:00 pm EST. No broadcast or streaming information has been announce yet.