This series has been close for the last few years, with each game being decided by a goal. Today, the Irish season opener started off the same way, with the Irish getting on the scoreboard first and Penn State answering and so on, until the Lions went up by two. Notre Dame then put their offense into overdrive and never looked back, scoring on 6 of 7 extra man situations including one two men up opportunity.
The Irish spread the wealth in their scoring with senior attackmen Matt Howell ringing up 3 goals and 3 assists and Dan Berger following with 3 goals. Kevin Corrigan’s sophomore class matured today accounting for 16 of the 29 points tallied by the Irish today. Middies Brian Hubschmann and Matt Karweck respectively had 2 goals and 4 assists, and 4 goals, while attacker Pat Walsh has 3 goals and 2 assists.
Both teams worked out of set plays for the first half of the game, and the Lions kept going back and coming way up top when an opening didn’t appear quickly enough. Notre Dame kept rotating the ball, typical of a Corrigan offense, probing and looking for the right opening for a high-percentage shot. Penn State won the opening face-off with a procedure call and rotated once around the Irish net and took a shot that Stewart Crosland (finishing last year with 154 saves) easily stopped. He cleared the ball to Brian (the Bull) Hubschmann, running up the sidelines and who was pushed out at the scorer’s table by an alert Lion middie. The Lions recovered but could not do anything. Notre Dame brought the ball down and Matt Howell and Pat Walsh went to work. Howell, a promising attackman has had health problems the last 3 years, but when healthy, he plays hard as he did today. Howell started the Irish scoring drive with a wide shot on the right. Pat Walsh recovered the ball and found Hubschmann at 12:15, who moved to about 8 yards from LeGrow and fired a hard overhand into the right corner. Penn State won the face and immediately attacked, getting the ball to attacker Nate Whittaker, who was covered at X by Irish shortstick Matt Ryan. Whitaker made three turns back and forth to fake out Ryan and came up to the right side GLE, and hooked a laser into the left lower corner behind Crosland’s back to tie it at 1-1. Penn State jumped to a lead at the 8:33 mark when Chris Gannet fed junior midfielder Will Jones, who scored his first of four goals. Jones made a quick head fake top the right on Crosland and shot left from about 15 yards out to put the Lions up 2-1.
Irish attacker Pat Walsh tied the game after two moves around the left pipe from X. The first two were rejected, but Walsh persisted and rolled around left again and dove and shot. One official called him in the crease but he was overruled and the goal stood. 2-2. At the 0:04 mark, Penn State was called for its first penalty (they had 7 total) and the Irish let time expire to start the second quarter with the ball.
At 12:17 of the second quarter, Hubschmann found Matt Karweck to give Notre Dame a 3-2 lead. Hubschmann let Karweck jump to the crease and timed his pass to meet him at 5 feet put. Karweck pushed the ball around LeGrow’s left side. Typical of these contests, Penn State’s Greg Hale, received a pass from Jones and used a quick wrist flip on the left of Crosland at 10:16 to tie the game at 3-3. Brian Giordano scored next for the Irish at 8:54 to go up 4-3, muscling hard from 15 yards to the 10 yard mark and then firing. At 7:29, the Lions came back to tie 4-4 when defender Matt O’Malley started a fast break and passed off to John Eremus near the crease who beat Crosland on his right. At 6:28, the Lions jumped to the lead 5-4 with a crisp pass to Charlie Perry at X, who juked Irish defender DJ Driscoll at X and came up the left side to hit inside the right pipe. At 3:12, two sequential slashing calls against the Lions gave Notre Dame a 2 extra man opportunity and they worked the ball three times around to Howell who found Dan Berger free on the right side. 5-5.
The Lions blew a clear on a muffed cross-field pass, and Corrigan called a time out at 1:54 to set up. At 1:40, the Irish went up 6-5 with a solo goal by Hubschmann who was 10 yards north of the GLE and launched a quick overhand shot that LeGrow could not see. It appeared that LeGrow was playing a bounce that never happened and let the ball in the right corner. The game was played indoors at the Loftus Sports Center, which had its old-style astroturf field replaced with a modern faux grass-style field sown with granulated rubber. Craig Bishko won the next face-off for the Irish and Corrigan used another time out to set up. His play calling worked well, for the Irish went up 7-5 at 1:30 when Hubschmann found Dan Berger open in the hole. Berger leaped to catch the pass, came down and jumped again and shot into the net.
Matt Karweck scored a man-up goal at 14:41 from a feed pass from Pat Walsh to start the scoring off in the third quarter to put the Irish up 8-5. Notre Dame scored the next two goals (Howell and Walsh) in eight ticks to lead 10-5. Jones scored for the third time for the Lions unassisted at 9:36 to cut the lead to 10-6. Hubschmann fed Giordano on another man-up opportunity and he scored at 8:10 to put Notre Dame up 11-6. Jones countered for the Lions with his fourth goal on a feed from Chris Gannet at 5:09 to cut the lead to 11-7. At 1:52, Notre dame went up 12-7 on a feed from Walsh to Karweck, who jumped on the left side to get the pass from Walsh, dropped and jumped again to beat LeGrow in the same as did Dan Berger earlier.
Starting the fourth quarter down 5 goals did not deter the Lions. They continued to contest every possession and fought hard for ground balls, which they lost 36-27. They had 10 shots on goal in the fourth quarter, but Crosland had easy looks and stopped every one of them. The Irish continued having fun and rang up five more goals in the period with sophomores Karweck and Walsh getting one each. Senior Dan Berger turned on his afterburners and scored three goals to finish with 5 points on the game.
Lion coach Glenn Thiel noted afterwards that the major difference in the game was “we were man down four times in the second quarter and that broke up all of our momentum. It was hard to get back in the game when Notre Dame beat us six of seven times in the game. We played well, but Notre Dame was doing everything right today. They handled our slides and they handled us when we didn’t slide.”
Corrigan thought the key was the ground ball and face off play of Notre Dame in the second half and keeping possession of the ball. Penn State visits Fairfield next weekend, while Notre Dame visits Syracuse on March 11. The Irish hope to repeat their fall ball victory over the Orangemen last year in Boston, but this game will be different. Mike Powell will be playing for Cuse, but if the Irish sophomores show up then as they did today, there could very well be an upset in the Carrier Dome
Notre Dame vs. Penn State