BIRMINGHAM, Mich. - A stellar defensive effort, including a season-high 18 saves from senior goaltender Joey Kemp, was the story of the day as top-seeded Notre Dame defeated second-seeded Ohio State, 9-2, in the title game of the inaugural Great Western Lacrosse League Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Seaholm High School. With the win, the sixth-ranked Irish receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame (13-2) has now won a season-high five straight games and will carry that momentum into the NCAAs. Pairings for the 2008 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship will be announced tonight at 9:00 p.m. (ET). The live `Selection Show' can be seen on ESPNU and a complete bracket and schedule can be found on ncaasports.com. The first round of the NCAA Tournament will take place May 10 & 11 at campus sites.
"This makes the next seven hours a lot easier," said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan, who will be guiding the Irish into their third straight NCAA Tournament and the 13th appearance in program history. "Instead of worrying about whether we're in (the NCAA Tournament), now we're just waiting to see who we play."
The Fighting Irish defense surrendered a season-low two goals to the 10th-ranked Buckeyes (10-5). That marked the fewest allowed by Notre Dame since a 14-2 win over Lehigh last April. Starting defensemen Sean Dougherty, Ross Zimmerman and Regis McDermott aided Kemp in shutting down Ohio State, who entered the GWLL Tournament averaging 14 goals a game. The victory also signified the fifth win for the Irish over a ranked opponent this season.
"Ross Zimmerman and Sean Dougherty played against their top-two offensive players and they both did a great job as did Regis McDermott," added Corrigan. "Joey Kemp played like a first-team All-American today."
Notre Dame's offense was led by two-goal efforts from Peter Christman, Grant Krebs and Ryan Hoff. Alex Wharton, Zach Brenneman and Kelly McKenna also added goals for the Irish.
A goal from Hoff opened the game's scoring with just over two minutes elapsed in the first quarter. Ohio State responded with a goal from Joel Dalgarno less than a minute later. That would be the only score of the half for the Buckeyes. The one goal allowed in the first half tied the season-best mark for the Irish defense this season. Notre Dame also held Villanova to a single first-half goal back on March 4.
McKenna and Christman added tallies to give the Irish a 3-1 lead at the end of the opening period. The Christman goal was on a man-up opportunity. Notre Dame was 3-for-3 in man-up chances on the day.
Christman's second goal was followed with a man-up tally from Krebs to give the Fighting Irish a 5-1 advantage at halftime.
The Ohio State drought ended with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter as Kevin Buchanan found the back of the net. Notre Dame responded with four straight goals from Krebs, Brenneman, Wharton and Hoff to produce the final outcome and give the Irish the conference title. The one second-half goal allowed was a season-best effort from the Irish defense.
"You want to be playing your best at this time of year and we played very well today against a very good team," stated Corrigan.
|Peter Christman||(2, 1)|
|Alex Wharton||(1, 1)|
|Grant Krebs||(2, 0)|
|Ryan Hoff||(2, 0)|
|Kelly Mckenna||(1, 0)|
|Davey Malera||(0, 1)|
|Duncan Swezey||(0, 1)|
|Zach Brenneman||(1, 0)|
|Joey Kemp||18 (0.900)|