Senior co-captain Alex Wharton returned to his hometown and delivered the game-winning goal against Loyola on Saturday.

A Late Goal From Wharton Lifts Notre Dame Past Loyola, 7-6

Feb. 16, 2008

Box Score

BALTIMORE, Md. – A goal from senior attackman Alex Wharton (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School) with 3:33 left in regulation was the difference as No. 5 Notre Dame downed No. 17 Loyola, 7-6, on Saturday afternoon at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. The game was the season-opener for both teams. The Irish used a well-balanced offensive attack that featured seven different goalscorers and their trademark stingy defense to notch the victory.

It was all Notre Dame (1-0) in the first quarter as the Irish took an early 3-0 lead. Junior attackman Ryan Hoff (Baldwin, Md./Dulaney) struck first on an assist from his classmate Duncan Swezey (Ambler, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) with 10:50 left on the clock. Hoff led the Irish with 40 goals last season.

The Irish, who connected on 50-percent of their man-up chances in 2007, made it 2-0 with a man-up goal from sophomore transfer Colin Igoe (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne/UMass). Swezey put Notre Dame on top by three as he scored with 48 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The Notre Dame defense extended its shutout streak versus Loyola (0-1) to 38 minutes, which dated back to last season’s contest, by holding the Greyhounds scoreless in the first period.

Loyola cracked the scoring column with 11:49 left in the second quarter as Collin Finnerty collected a goal. Notre Dame responded 38 seconds later as junior Dan Gibson (Germantown, Tenn./Memphis University School) scored with the assist going to Wharton.

The Greyhounds made it a 4-2 contest on a Jake Willcox goal. Once again, the Irish responded with a man-up tally as sophomore Matt Ciambella (Orchard Park, N.Y./Orchard Park) registered his first career goal off a pass from Igoe. Notre Dame carried a 5-2 lead into intermission.

Loyola used a 3-0 run in the third quarter to even the contest at 5-5 heading into the final period.

The Irish put a halt to the Greyhound surge as freshman Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) scored on an assist from Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga./Lovett School) to give Notre Dame a 6-5 lead with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter. Loyola countered two minutes later as Shane Koppens scored to knot the game, 6-6.

With just under four minutes left in regulation, the Notre Dame defense came up with a key stop as senior Ross Zimmerman (Utica, Mich./Brother Rice) forced a turnover, which resulted in the game-winning goal from Wharton on an assist from Gibson. From there, the Fighting Irish defense stopped a final Loyola attack to preserve the victory. Senior goaltender Joey Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep) picked up the win as he made 13 saves, while his counterpart Jake Hagelin had 11 stops.

For the game, Loyola held a slim, 34-32, edge in shots, while Notre Dame went 9-for-17 in faceoffs. The Irish converted on 20 of 27 clearing opportunities and the Greyhounds were 20 of 24.

The win marked Notre Dame’s sixth-straight season-opening triumph, a school record. The Irish bested Loyola, 9-7, at home in last year’s season-opener.

Notre Dame begins the home portion of its 2008 slate with a tilt against Penn State on Sunday, Feb. 24. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (ET) inside the Loftus Center.

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#5 Notre Dame (1-0) – 3 2 0 2 – 7
#17 Loyola (0-1) – 0 2 3 1 – 6

Notre Dame Scoring (goals-assists):
Dan Gibson 1-1, Colin Igoe 1-1, Duncan Swezey 1-1, Alex Wharton 1-1, Matt Ciambella 1-0, Zach Brenneman 1-0, Ryan Hoff 1-0, Neal Hicks 0-1; Goaltender: Joey Kemp (60:00, 13 saves, 6 GA)

Loyola Scoring (goals-assists):
Jake Willcox 2-1, Shane Koppens 1-3, Collin Finnerty 1-0, Matt Langan 1-0, Cooper MacDonnell 1-0; Goaltender: Jake Hagelin (60:00, 11 saves, 7 GA)