Notre Dame hosted Denver at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, home of the MLL Chicago Machine. The sunny day borught out 3482 fans, beating the previous record in Illinois for NCAA lacrosse of 3336 when Cornell visited in 2006 and beat the Irish 9-8. Despite the large partisan Midwestern crowd, the game once again was won by Notre Dame’s opponent, with Denver winning their third come from behind game of the year. This was Denver’s third win of the 12 game series.
The first half was all Notre Dame as the Irish led 3-1 after the first and 6-2 by halftime. Notre Dame was working the ball well, challenging the center while loading the sides. This enabled Ryan Hoff, Notre Dame’s big gun, to score three goals (22 for the season), while Grant Krebs scored twice. Peter Christman collaborated with Mike Podgajny to work the ball from behind and feed Pogo at the center, 8 yards out and Pogo lasered one past Konkel’s left shoulder at 13:03 of the second quarter. Then Hoff tallied the 5th goal at 9:45 for the Irish off a clear by Kemp who dumped the ball to Kelli McKenna at the midfield at the top right. McKenna turned and fired a crisp pass to Hoff near the center, and Hoff angled to the goal to beat Konkel with an overhand shot. Grant Krebs was then fed by Alex Wharton to give Notre Dame a 6-1 edge at 5:02. Mike Anderson of Denver penetrated to get a solos shot off at 1:431 and beat Kemp to narrow the lead to 6-2.
Denver was successful coming at Kemp from 5 yards out just off the GLE. One of the factors that contributed to the Irish loss was their inability to convert on any of the 6 penalties handed to the Pioneers. Notre Dame entered the game with a 43% EMO success rate, scoring on 16 of 37 opportunities. Notre Dame’s shot selection was also poor, heaving the ball 29 times, with only 19 of them on goal. Lastly, Notre Dame was awful on ground balls in the second half, scooping only 13 to Denver’s 21.
Jamie Lincoln sore early in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 6-3, beating Kemp from the right side at 13:28 to narrow it to 6-3, and then Brett Kroll was hanging in the center when Lincoln, rolled the left pipe and fed him, rather than shooting. Kroll beat Kemp at 8:59 to narrow the score to 6-4. Two minutes later at 6:39, John Dickerson used a close roll on the left side of the cage to beat Kemp to cut the margin to one, at 6-5. Cliff Smith was hanging 5 yards out in the hole and was fed by Joey Murray to tie the game 6-6. Dan Gibson of Notre Dame was fed by Duncan Swezey and Gibson ran down the left GLE, and dipped to beat Knokel and put the Irish ahead 7-6 at 3:11. But Cliff Smith answered at 1:12 with an unassisted goal, this time from 3 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 entering the 4th qurter.
Ground balls were the downfall of the Irish as they would lose the ball in the Denver box and were unable to retain possession. Denver went ahead after a 30-second ground ball fight in front of the Denver goal, which came up in the pocket of a Pioneer. The Irish were outhustled on the ground ball front by Denver in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Hoff managed to lead the Irihs 8-7, with his 3rd goal of the game off a feed by David Earl at 9:26, but Jamie Lincoln countered with his own hat trick to tie it again at 6:49 at 8-8. Gajic then used a laser from 10 yards to beat Kemp and give Denver the edge 9-8. Claggett won the faceoff, dominating with a 15/21 record, but Denver’s defense denied the Irish an opportunity to tie and send the game into overtime. The Irish worked the ball down quickly to Denver’s end and set up Grant Krebs for a shot at 0:19, and Krebs was posted 8 yards out on the top left and turned into the stick of Emerson Eichler and Konkel was able to stuff his shot.
The Irish fall to 1-1 in the Great Western, while Denver goes to 1-0. Now the focus is on whether Ohio State or Air Force can knock off the Pioneers to give Notre Dame help in taking the conference title. Notre Dame meets Ohio State at the end of April and they need to reschedule their match against Air Force, which was postponed in March due to weather.
|Jamie Lincoln||(3, 1)|
|Cliff Smith||(2, 1)|
|Ilija Gajic||(1, 1)|
|Brett Koll||(1, 0)|
|John Dickenson||(1, 0)|
|Mike Anderson||(1, 0)|
|Joey Murray||(0, 1)|
|Austin Konkel||12 (0.600)|