March 13, 2016
Notre Dame and Denver, each atop one of the major men’s lacrosse polls, traded six-goal runs Sunday in a matchup of unbeatens at Arlotta Stadium.
That led to a fifth overtime verdict in the last six meetings between these two teams–and the Pioneers (6-0) walked away with the 9-8 win on a Zach Miller goal at the 2:02 mark of the extra session.
The game proved a tale of two different halfs. After Irish face-off specialist P.J. Finley scored 34 seconds into the contest, the Irish hit a dry spell that lasted until 2:59 left in the second period. Meanwhile, the defending NCAA champion Pioneers strung together a half-dozen tallies in a row (two of the first three in man-up situations and two of the six by Miller) and led 7-2 at the break.
Neither team scored in the third period (Denver committed eight turnovers in that quarter)–but the Irish finally broke through with consecutive scores by sophomore attack Mikey Wynne at the 11:56 and 6:33 marks of the last period to pull the home team within striking distance.
Then came a remarkable Notre Dame string of four goals in 43 seconds–with sophomore midfielder Brendan Collins, long pole John Sexton, Wynne (to finish his hat trick) and Finley tallying in succession from 5:17 to 4:34. That amazing streak left the Irish on top 8-7 and brought the crowd to its feet on a damp afternoon in South Bend.
“One thing we know is there’s no quit in our guys,” said Irish coach Kevin Corrigan. “I never question whether our guys will play to the last whistle. I just wish we’d played better early–for two-thirds of this game we didn’t play well on offense, missed ground balls and made too many mistakes to overcome against a team this good. These teams know each other very well, and you’ve got to find a way to make the last play of the game.”
Notre Dame had its chances from there–but Denver’s Tyler Pace tied it at 8-8 at the 2:25 mark on a ball that trickled into the goal. That came after the Irish defense held the Pioneers without a score for a 28:54 span.
Irish senior Matt Kavanagh (he had three assists) misfired on a couple of opportunities in the final 10 seconds of regulation, then Denver claimed the overtime faceoff. The Pioneers maintained possession after a wild ground ball, called time out at 2:57 and won it 55 seconds later on the lone shot of the extra period.
Miller also scored in overtime during last season’s regular-season meeting between these two teams, won 11-10 by the Pioneers in Denver.
In this rematch from the 2015 NCAA semifinals, Notre Dame outshot the Pioneers 31-29, while Denver dominated the ground ball column by a 43-24 count.
Denver freshman goalie Alex Ready made 14 saves, to eight for Notre Dame’s Shane Doss.
The Irish (4-1) return to action at 6 p.m. EDT Saturday at Arlotta Stadium against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia.
Score by Period 1 2 3 4 OT F
Denver (6-0) 4 3 0 1 1 9
Notre Dame (4-1) 1 1 0 6 0 8
Goals: Zach Miller 3, Tyler Pace 2, Connor Cannizzaro 1, Jack Bobzien 1, Brendan Bomberry 1, Max Planning 1
Assists: Cannizzaro 3, Colton Jackson 2, Connor Donahue1, Austin French1, Miller 1
Denver: Alex Ready, W, 60:00, 8 goals against, 14 saves
Notre Dame: Shane Doss, L, 60:00, 9 goals against, 8 saves
— by John Heisler, senior associate athletics director