This was an interesting game. At least for the first quarter, when Fairfield was scratching and clawing their way toward the Irish net. ND had jumped out to and 2-0 lead in the first 3:30 with a goal by Matt Howell and then Howell feeding his senior attack-mate Dan Berger for another quick score. A few defensive lapses by Notre Dame, let the Stags back as they rang up three goals from the 10:53 mark to the 8:24 mark to take the lead 3-2. It looked at this point as if it would be a game. Owen Mulford, Lucius Polk and Colin Fatti stepped forward in a 68 second time span to jump Fairfield’s Tim Gazzini and give the Irish back the lead, 5-3. Five more goals by Notre Dame in the second quarter sent Gazzinin packing and replaced by Mike Kruger, who was lit up for 6 more goals. Fairfield is a team still trying to find its own identity, beating Providence in OT, losing to Rutgers in 3 OT (who beat ‘Cuse, who beat ND 19-13) and getting pounded by both Denver and Air Force, yet beating Penn State soundly.
The weekend was an reunion weekend for Notre Dame, which celebrated the 40th year of existence of its lacrosse program. Mind you, in the first 17 years of this span, the program was a club program and in its early varsity years, it played in the Midwest Lacrosse Association. It wasn’t until Kevin Corrigan arrived that the program began its rise in prominence, culminating in its Final Four appearance at Rutgers against Syracuse in 2001. The weekend included a reception attended by more than 60 former players, most of which were from the club years.
Corrigan has been seeking to repeat that performance, but last year, the Irish lost their attempt for a bid to the tourney to Ohio State, who had the edge on the Irish in a three way tie for the Great Western Lacrosse League title. The Buckeyes beat Notre Dame at the end of March and are in the driver’s seat for the League Qualifier for the tournament. Ohio State is 2-0 in league play and will host Air Force and Denver later this week and then end league play in Fairfield against the Stags. The Buckeyes needed to rally to beat Hobart in overtime, 13-12 in Geneva on Saturday and that showing makes me think that perhaps both Colorado GW teams can pull off wins against OSU. Note the use of “perhaps”, but realistically such a scenario is indeed unlikely. It is likely that Denver can take the Buckeyes, and the hopes of the Irish will fall on the shoulders of Fairfield. If the Stage play as they did today, they thing they will beat will be a drum. The Stags defense seemed confused many times in the second half, especially when Notre Dame went on a 8 goal streak and the Stags were easily suckered into playing the wrong man.
Corrigan has two weeks to get his team ready to take on the Terrapins and impress the selection committee with a quality win. The Irish were in this same position last year and let the Terps take them down 10-4 in South Bend. The Irish have the offense to do so, but today their defense had a few mental lapses of their own, which they can’t afford to happen in College Park. Corrigan managed to play all (10) of his seniors in their final home game although the playing time wasn’t enough to satisfy some hecklers in the stands.
Howell hit the left corner with his first goal and it was good to see him finally last almost an entire year without an injury. He brought his A game today nailing the net 5 times and assisting others three times for an 8 point game. Howell fed Dan Berger at 11:44, who was 7 yards off the pipe and Berger quickly also hit the same corner, putting ND up 2-0. Josh Thornton for Fairfield hit the net when he beat defender Drew Peters and faced of with Irish Goalie Stew Crosland. A quick wrist gave Thorton the goal. Matt Baglio (black socks and all ) tied the game for the Stags, on a feed from Rory McCarthy as he shot from the right at about 10 yards out. Greg Downing put Fairfield ahead at 8:24 with a solo strike. The Stags played some good defense during the next four minutes, laying some hits on the Irish. Howell had a good opportunity on the right of the crease, but was sandwiched by two Fairfield defenders, forcing his shot astray. Irish middie Steve Clagett was playing hard but was harried in the first quarter by Fairfield, leading to a hard shot at the 6:25 mark going outside. Matt Karweck received a feed 2 feet from the crease, but Gazzini calmly stoned him. A restraining line violation turned the ball over to Notre Dame and Lucius (sounds like a Civil War colonel) Polk fed Steve Clagett at 4:14 to tie the game ND won the ensuing face (although they finished winning only 44% today) and brought the ball behind from the left side. Polk came streaking down the right side. A pass by Pat Walsh hit Polk in ful stride, and his right hand shot to the left corner put ND up again, 4-3 at 3:53. Irish middie Colin Fatti (whose father played club ball at ND) notched a solo strike at 3:06 running along the right unopposed on a mixup by Fairfield, leaving him alone with Gazzini to end the first quarter scoring at 5-3.
Fairfield opened the scoring in the second quarter on a defensive lapse with Kevin Finnerty picking off a long cross-field clearing pass by Crosland. Finnerty beat Crosland to the crease and scored to narrow the margin to 5-4 at 12:31. Fatti stepped forward again with a feed from Matt Howell. Howell went behind the goal to suck the defense back, while Fatti came down the right. Howell moved slightly left and jigged back right and hit Fatti in stride. 6-4. Howell took a feed from Mulford and looked at Fatti, twitched his shoulder as if he would pass, and at 7:46 hit another corner of the cage for his second goal and 4th point for the day. 7-4, Irish. Garret Bamann responded for Fairfield taking a feed from Finnerty at 6:45 on a fast break after Pat Walsh was stripped (more like mugged) of the ball. 8-5. The next 6 minutes saw sophomore middie Drew Peters get his second goal of the season on a solo fast break when he picked up a ground ball and zigged and zagged for 70 yards the beat Gazzini and put ND up 9-5. Dsan Berger converted the only Irish man up opportunity at 5:15. ND, was a meager 20% nailing one of five man up attempts. Clagett scored at 0:18 on a solo shot to end the scoring at 10-5, ND.
Notre Dame kept the pressure on in the third quarter, scoring four to Farifield’s none. Howell rang in the first two off assists from Chris Richez and Pat Walsh. Walsh was heavily guarded today and needed a neck protector because a number of times as Walsh was coming around the left side, a Fairfield defender would slot his stick under his neck and pull back. This garroting limited Walsh’s effectiveness, leaving him to settle for only three assists in the game. Freshman Brian Boyle and LSM Chris Richez each tallied a goal to put ND up 14-5.
Polk nailed the net on a feed from Walsh to begin the fourth quarter. This kid is from DC and he stands 6-3. Corrigan has a number of tall players and these kids smell blood near the net. Baglio notched his second goal of the game at 11:03 and Howell responded 4 minutes later to end the Irish scoring. Kyle Herman ended the scoring for Fairfield at 0:51, 16-7. The Irish get to sit and watch the Buckeyes this week and they will be pulling for both Denver and Air Force to win.
Notre Dame vs. Fairfield
|Matt Howell||(5, 3)|
|Patrick Walsh||(0, 3)|
|Lucius Polk||(2, 1)|
|Chris Richez||(1, 1)|
|Owen Mulford||(1, 1)|
|Colin Fatti||(2, 0)|
|Steve Clagett||(1, 1)|
|Brian Boyle||(1, 1)|
|Dan Berger||(2, 0)|
|Drew Peters||(1, 0)|
|Matt Karweck||(0, 1)|