The Notre Dame Fighting Irish used 16 saves by senior goalie Scott Rodgers to advance to the program's first National Championship Game with a 12-7 victory over the Cornell Big Red.
BALTIMORE, Md. - The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team will be playing in the title game of the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history following a 12-7 semifinal win over No. 7 Cornell on Saturday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. The Irish will face No. 5 seed Duke in the final at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Monday back at M&T Bank Stadium.
Senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga./Lovett School) matched a career-high total with four goals in spearheading the Notre Dame (10-6) offense. Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) tallied three goals for the Fighting Irish. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y./MacArthur) made a season-high 16 saves, including 10 in the first half.
"I thought our defense played very well again," said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. "I thought Scott (Rodgers) was terrific in the cage. Offensively, we were very opportunistic. I don't know if we played very well offensively, but we made plays very well offensively. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play on Monday."
Cornell struck first less than two minutes into the contest on a goal from Roy Lang. The Fighting Irish responded with four consecutive tallies. Notre Dame evened things up (1-1) with 2:54 left in the first quarter on a goal from sophomore attackman Sean Rogers (New Hyde Park, N.Y./Holy Trinity).
The Fighting Irish grabbed the lead for good (2-1) with just over one minute left in the opening quarter as Hicks found the back of the net. Senior midfielder Adam Felicetti (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) scored with six seconds left in the first quarter to give Notre Dame a 3-1 edge after the first period of play. It was the first goal of the season for Felicetti.
Notre Dame went up by three (4-1) 38 seconds into the second quarter on a Brenneman tally. Cornell put a halt to Notre Dame's run as Steve Mock scored with 12:49 left in the second quarter. The goal snapped a scoreless streak of 15:44 for the Big Red.
A man-up goal from Brenneman gave Notre Dame a 5-2 lead with 10:40 left in the second quarter. The Big Red sliced the Irish lead to two (5-3) with 3:33 remaining in the first half on Mock's second goal of the day. Hicks deposited his second goal of the game with 16 seconds left in the first half to give Notre Dame a 6-3 lead at the intermission.
Brenneman's third goal of the day put Notre Dame up by four (7-3) with less than three minutes elapsed in the second half. Mock notched his third goal of the game just over a minute later to make it a 7-4 affair. Cornell cut the deficit to two (7-5) midway through the third period on a Ross Gillum goal.
A man-up tally from Hicks, his third goal of the contest, with 5:57 left in the third quarter put Notre Dame up 8-5. Notre Dame led by that score heading into the final period.
The Fighting Irish grabbed a four-goal advantage (9-5) with 10:55 left in regulation on a goal from freshman midfielder Steve Murphy (Shirley, N.Y./William Floyd). A goal from Cornell's Ryan Hurley with 6:08 showing on the clock cut the Irish lead to three (9-6). The fourth goal from Hicks gave Notre Dame a 10-6 lead with 4:20 left in the contest.
Junior long-stick midfielder Andrew Irving (McLean, Va./The Hotchkiss School) put Notre Dame up 11-6 with two minutes left in the game. A goal from senior midfielder Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's) gave the Irish a six-goal advantage (12-6), their largest of the game, with 1:32 showing on the clock. Hurley scored the final goal of the game, a man-up tally with 16 seconds left.
"I thought it was going to be a long day when they scored first," stated Rodgers. "But it's definitely good to make your first save when you get out there as a goalie because you want to get into a rhythm and you want to feel out the shooters. So I definitely think (making the first save) helped."
Cornell held a 40-32 edge in shots. Big Red goalie AJ Fiore made 10 saves. Cornell won 12 of 23 faceoffs.
Monday's title game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. (ET) start. It will be aired live on ESPN HD and ESPN3.com.
Cornell vs. Notre Dame Postgame Quotes
Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan
Opening Statement on the NCAA semifinal victory over Cornell
“I thought our defense played very well again. I thought Scott was terrific in the cage. Offensively, we were very opportunistic. I don’t know if we played very well offensively but we made plays very well offensively. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play on Monday.”
On first appearance in the NCAA national championship game and being a program outside the East Coast to make the title game
“I feel like we have been knocking on this door. I am excited that we are in the championship game. I am really hoping if we can win a championship I can stop getting questions about lacrosse outside the traditional areas. The game has been growing. There have been a number of teams, ours included, that have played very, very well in the NCAA tournament.
On the 4-0 first quarter run and holding the lead
“I was happy with the 1-0 run. For the first seven minutes of that game we were lousy and we were just kind of holding on hoping that we didn’t end down three at that point. So getting the one [goal] everybody was able to take a deep breath…and think that we are going to be okay here. With a team that plays as patiently and smart as they do it is always better to play with a lead against a team like that.
Notre Dame senior goalie Scott Rodgers
On the first Cornell goal and making the first save
“I thought it was going to be a long day when they first scored. But it’s definitely good to make your first save when you get out there as a goalie because you want to get in a rhythm and you want to feel out the shooters. So I definitely think [making that first save] helped.”
On the Notre Dame defense
“I thought Kevin Ridgeway did a great job, as he has done all season. He always gets the No. 1 guy. I attribute [the win] to our defense. They did a great job and I got lucky on a couple [saves].”
On being in the national championship game
“I would have said that if we got the opportunity to make the playoffs we would be a dangerous team. I just thought we had the talent all year, we were just a little inconsistent. I believe in this team and I knew we could do this.”
Notre Dame senior attackman Neal Hicks
About the Notre Dame attack
“Nick (Beattie) and Sean (Rogers) have both done a really good job and it’s been a lot of fun playing with both of them.
Obviously, Sean had a really big game. He’s been really solid the last couple weeks. We’ve heard a lot of the talk that Notre Dame’s attack is a little bit soft and I’ve been trying to tell the guys let’s go out there and prove to everybody that we can play, that we’re good players.”
Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni
Opening statement on the NCAA semifinal loss to Notre Dame
There is no loss that is easy to swallow over the course of the season, but there is nothing worse than a season-ending loss knowing that your seniors have worked so hard the last four years and put in everything they possibly have to put in to get to this point right here. I give a lot of credit to Notre Dame and congratulate them. They played great today and they’ve played great all year and certainly in the playoffs.
On the mechanics of Notre Dame’s defense
“It is a blend of a lot of different things. Number one, they take care of the ball on offense. If you keep the ball out of your defense you hold guys to less goals just by definition because you have the ball on their end of the field. Put that in conjunction that they have goalie that’s a senior and that he’s a leader of that team and he plays very well and he gets eight saves in the first quarter alongside a defense that’s very athletic, very long, they have great range. They do a great job of coaching that defense but I think if you add the way they play offensively and the goalie that plays behind them, I think that’s a formula of success for them.”
On the first quarter by Rodgers and Cornell’s shot selection
“Coming in here against Rodgers, we didn’t want to be overanalyzing his technique or his size. We just wanted our guys to shoot and shoot confidently when they had the opportunity because of our success in the past few weeks. To his credit he really played well, but I just know that when you take nine shots on cage and only have one goal you’re not going to come out feeling all that good about yourself.”
Cornell senior attackman Ryan Hurley
On the play of Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers
“In the first half [Rodgers] had 10 saves and credit to him for playing great, and doing his job and keeping those guys in it. We were getting great looks. We didn’t hit some of the shots we needed to or would have liked to early. The momentum never seemed to go our way.”
On the defensive play of Notre Dame
“They had great execution [today]. We took advantage at some points and other times they covered up very well and executed. We couldn’t really find a way inside to get good looks.”
Cornell sophomore attackman Rob Pannell
On the play of Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers
“Scott Rodgers did a great job of making saves. We were shooting at places that we thought were going to go in. Credit to him for doing a great job, he had 16 saves on the day, so it’s just a credit to him and the defense around him.”
On playing with senior Ryan Hurley for two seasons
“It was great to play alongside Ryan for two years. It kills me that he’s leaving. I was kind of happy we were able to end that game on the right note with me feeding him for a goal. It felt good to have that happen. I’m going to miss him and some people are going to have to step up next year.”
|Neal Hicks||(4, 0)|
|Zach Brenneman||(3, 0)|
|Sean Rogers||(1, 1)|
|Nicholas Beattie||(0, 1)|
|David Earl||(0, 1)|
|Steve Murphy||(1, 0)|
|Grant Krebs||(1, 0)|
|Andrew Irving||(1, 0)|
|Adam Felicetti||(1, 0)|
|Colin Igoe||(0, 1)|
|Scott Rodgers||16 (0.696)|