Thirteen minutes and fourteen seconds. This is how long fans waited for the first goal of the day. This was how late you could be to the game without missing a goal. This was a freshman to freshman connection as attackman John Christmas found attackman Joe Yevoli open for the first score of the game at 1:46 left in the first. Offensively things would pick-up from there, but not much. Christmas would make it 2-0 45 seconds before the quarter ended as he kept his stick in his right hand the whole time and just kept on spinning away from his defenseman until he finished with a strong point blank shot. Prior to the first goal of the day, both defenses and their netminders dug in and established this game as a defensive one, with outstanding pressure defense and incredible goalie play. The rain did make passes a little sloppy, and footing a little unsure, but even when the weather let up the checks and stuffs continued.
Notre Dame’s freshman attackman Brian Giordano put the Irish’s first point on the board in style as he snagged a loose ball out of the air (which may or may not have been a bounce pass) and ripped it behind the back past Virginia sophomore keeper Tillman Johnson. It took Notre Dame one quarter and 2 ½ minutes to score their first, but they followed it up with sophomore attackman Dan Berger’s unassisted man-down goal minutes later. The last two goals of the half were Virginia’s, giving them a 4-2 halftime lead. Junior middie A.J. Shannon took a pass from junior middie Chris Rotelli and stuck it high for UVA’s third. Then with around 2 minutes to go senior middie Brenndan Mohler put his first of the day away. Virginia’s defense led by senior long-pole Mark Koontz, held strong for a minute and a half enabling their offense to get the ball for one more shot on goal. UVA Head Coach Dom Starsia called a time-out with 19 seconds left hoping to take the wind out of Notre Dame’s sails with a goal right before the half, but the Cavs couldn’t finish and would have to wait until the third quarter for their fifth goal.
And they didn’t wait long. It must have looked grim for N.D. fans as UVA won the face-off, came down and possessed the ball for a spell, then finished with a junior middie Billy Glading goal off a Yevoli feed from behind. However, despite this three goal lead, Notre Dame would be the only team who scored for almost the rest of the game. The second half would see Notre Dame’s junior goalie Nick Antol continue to play possessed. Coach Starsia might have been upset with his team’s shot selection, but either way you look at Antol came up big with save after save. Notre Dame’s defense as a whole also stepped it up a notch making it extremely difficult for Virginia’s attackman to carry the ball at will. Junior defenseman Eric Simon helped the Irish cause as he continually pressured UVA’s Christmas and stripped the ball numerous times. The UVA defense was also a power to be reckoned with, as Mark Koontz consistently tormented the Notre Dame offense with such plays as when he “helicoptered” freshman middie Matt Malakoff’s stick, then scooped the ground ball and cleared it. However, just as UVA had a great defensive play or stand, the Irish would come back with a stand of their own. When senior attackman Conner Gill broke his defenseman’s ankles and had a one-on-one with Antol, it certainly looked as if he was going to notch his first of the day. Yet, the 5’7” Antol looked like a 6’7” 265 pound wall from the stands as he continued to stymie everyone and anyone who shot the ball. On the other end of the field, Tillman Johnson was having a day of his own as he came up with some tough saves such as when senior middie John Flandina found his shot being cleared the other way after a Johnson save. Notre Dame was having some trouble clearing the ball possibly because of the rain, but even when UVA took advantage of a muffed clear, Antol turned it into N.D. possession once again with terrific saves. N.D. received an off-sides penalty with 3:36 left in the third and UVA whipped the ball around on this possession seemingly determined to capitalize, but to no one’s surprise guess who pooped on that parade? #1 Nick Antol again. Notre Dame’s defensive labors would finally pay off with 2:23 left on the clock when sophomore attackman Dan Berger put a Flandina feed right over Johnson’s right shoulder. Yet, N.D. still continued to struggle on the clear, but Antol also continued to make up for it with saves. The third ended with UVA up 5-3, but with the momentum in the Irish corner.
The great defense continued until the very end. Even the N.D. man-down defense was unbeatable as some offsides and slashing penalties tested them early in the fourth. Even though UVA seemed more unable to capitalize on offense as the game went on, their defense was playing hard as a unit, giving Notre Dame not much to work with. Virginia’s Glading came away with the ball after a great check on his part showing that the effort was there throughout the positions. However, Notre Dame would finally get their fourth goal of the game when Flandino fed junior middie Kyle Frigon who went high and hard on Johnson. Notre Dame bad passes marked much of the next minutes, but so did Antol saves, continual N.D. pressure defense, and UVA’s Mark Koontz hustling all over the field. Once it seemed Christmas had a great opportunity to crush the Irish momentum with a goal, but like those who came before him, he was stuffed at point blank range by Antol yet again. Notre Dame just needed to get some composure and hold on to the ball so they could give themselves an opportunity to score. With just under 3 ½ minutes to go in the game they did just that, and a Giordano rip found the back of the cage off a Malakoff assist. With the game all tied up at 5, the Irish faithful were heard the loudest as they boomed “LETS GO IRISH” chants from the stands in support of their defense who now faced the dormant UVA offense with under three to go. The Irish optimism didn’t last long as a quick feed inside to Glading from Rotelli gave the Cavs the lead once again. Although N.D. got the ball back after the face, their woes continued in the form of bad passes and ground ball trouble, thus UVA was able to regain possession and attempt to kill the clock. A UVA timeout was taken at 1:32 in order to make sure the game ended with them on top. Mohler got the ball and just kept moving and moving and his relentless running earned him a goal as he beat the double team and found an empty net with 52 seconds left to play. UVA again got the ball and called a timeout, and this time the plan was give it to Christmas and let him just keep running. That’s what was done, and the game ended with UVA winning 7-5 despite a brave Irish comeback.
|John Christmas||(1, 1)|
|Chris Rotelli||(0, 2)|
|Joe Yevoli||(1, 1)|
|Brenndan Mohler||(2, 0)|
|Billy Glading||(2, 0)|
|Aj Shannon||(1, 0)|
|Tillman Johnson||10 (0.667)|