March 13, 2005
CARSON, Calif. – The 14th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team (2-1) used a dominating first quarter and an outstanding starting debut from freshman goaltender Joey Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep School) for a 9-7 victory against #10 North Carolina (1-2) Saturday in front of a crowd of 7,182 in The First 4 invitational at the Home Depot Center. The Irish will return to action next Saturday, March 19, when they play host to Butler at 1 p.m. (EST) in both their home and Great Western Lacrosse League opener. The game will be televised by Comcast Sports Local.
Kemp stopped 65% of the shots he faced, making 13 saves in his first collegiate start to be named the game’s MVP. He led an outstanding defensive effort that held North Carolina to half its offensive output in a three-goal win against the Irish last year. He was joined in that effort by junior D D.J. Driscoll (Downingtown, Pa./Malvern Prep School), who marked Carolina All-American Jed Prossner and held him to just a single goal and one assist on seven shots to go with a game-high four turnovers. In 2004, Prossner was a key factor in UNC’s 14-11 triumph at Notre Dame, scoring four times in the first quarter and six times overall. Other key members in the effort were senior LSM Chris Richez (Freeport, N.Y./Freeport H.S.) and sophomores D Joey Rallo (Cockeysville, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) and D J.R. Stahl (Sparks, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.), who made his first collegiate start.
Notre Dame also had a number of offensive stars, as junior All-American A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) led the team with five points (one goal, four assists), senior co-captain A Jim Morrison (Fulton, Md./Mount St. Joseph H.S.) scored three early goals, and rookie M Michael Podgajny (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley H.S.) also netted a trio of goals.
After falling behind 5-1 in the opening quarter of last year’s meeting, Notre Dame turned the tables on Saturday, dominating the opening 15 minutes. The Irish held an astounding 14-1 advantage in ground balls, won all five faceoffs, outshot the Tar Heels 14-7, and carried a 3-1 lead into the second period. Morrison and Walsh were the offensive catalysts in the early going. The senior, who had three goals for the third time in as many games this season after having just one to his credit prior to 2005, scored the game’s first two goals, both off assists from Walsh. The junior attackman then found Podgajny for another score late in the first, and Morrison netted his third with 8:51 remaining before halftime, off a pass from junior M Matt Ryan (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley H.S.) – who finished with three assists, matching his career high – to make the score 4-1.
The teams played relatively even the rest of the way, and UNC, which never led, had opportunities late, but some brilliant saves – sometimes at point-blank range – by Kemp and a couple of timely goals kept Notre Dame in control. Two of the contest’s biggest goals came in the fourth period off the stick of senior co-captain Brian Giordano (Princeton, N.J./Hun School). The first came with just under eight minutes remaining and shortly after Prossner’s only goal made the score 6-5. After Mike McCall scored with 3:24 left to make the score 7-6, Giordano again struck back quickly, finding the net just 38 seconds later to again make it a two-goal margin.
Notre Dame held a 44-34 advantage in ground balls, with Driscoll leading all players by picking up six. Rallo added five, while Walsh and junior M Drew Peters (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon H.S.) collected four each.
Freshman M Taylor Clagett (Chesapeake Beach, Md./DeMatha Catholic H.S.) also had five ground balls, while continuing his strong play at the faceoff X, winning 13 of 20 faceoffs for the Irish.
The Irish also had a 38-36 edge in shots and converted both of their extra-man opportunities.
Notre Dame remained undefeated in three all-time games in the state of California, having previously beaten Air Force and San Diego State in a tournament in San Diego in 1990.
The Irish also ended a nine-game losing streak against top-10 opponents, grabbing a victory against one of the nation’s best 10 teams for the first time since knocking off #3 Johns Hopkins in the 2001 NCAA quarterfinals.