April 8, 2017
By John Heisler
The men’s lacrosse resumes of third-rated Notre Dame and 10th -rated Duke looked amazingly similar.
Both teams lost earlier this spring at Denver, ranked fifth this week. Both teams lost one-goal games against Syracuse, this week’s second-rated team.
History might have favored the Irish, winners in six of the last seven regular-season meetings between the two squads.
So Duke flipped the script Saturday at Koskinen Stadium, utilizing a four-goal first-period flurry and four more goals in the third period to hold off Notre Dame for the Blue Devils’ first victory over the Irish in Durham since 1993.
It came by an 11-8 count for Duke on a comfortable, mostly sunny 60-degree day.
The Irish got off to a nice start on their first possession-with senior Sergio Perkovic finding Mikey Wynne, who flipped it behind his back and into the net less than a minute into the action on the first shot of the game.
But the Blue Devils responded quickly, scoring four consecutive goals in a 3:36 span (after three in a 2:54 window). Duke’s Jack Bruckner had a hat trick less than 10 minutes into the contest.
Perkovic notched his 100th career goal late in the period, and Ryder Garnsey scored less than a minute later on a pass from Brendan Collins.
Then Duke added a fifth first-period goal in the final minute-and that prompted the Irish to replace goaltender Shane Doss with junior Owen Molloy in only Molloy’s third career appearance and his first with the sort of game pressure that accompanied Saturday’s stakes. (He had played at the end of easy Irish wins over Detroit in 2016 and Michigan earlier this season.)
Duke managed only a single second-period tally-while Wynne’s second goal (from Garnsey) made it 5-4 midway through the quarter.
The Blue Devils maintained a 6-4 edge at intermission, but Irish coach Kevin Corrigan figured the half had been more about Notre Dame opportunities that did not end up in the back of the net.
“Every possession we had had a great shot,” he said. “Just put the ball away. It’s as simple as that. That was about a dead even half except we did not put the ball in the back of the cage as well as they did. We did not get outplayed-it was a half where we just got outscored.”
But the home team notched the first two goals of the third period and accounted for four scores in the first nine minutes of the frame-making it 10-5 for Duke and bringing Doss back into the game in goal for the Irish.
Perkovic, Garnsey and sophomore Brendan Gleason added final-period scores for Notre Dame, but they were not enough to keep the Irish (who took the first five shots of the fourth period) from dropping to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in league play. Duke (8-3 overall, 2-1 in conference action) won for the seventh time in its last eight games.
The Blue Devils at one point held a 30-18 edge in total shots, and Duke successfully killed off four penalties (two majors). The Irish were not called for a penalty all afternoon.
Molloy ended up with a pair of saves in his 23:46 of action. Doss had seven saves, while Duke’s Danny Fowler had 10.
“In games like this finishing the ball is a big part of it, and we did not do that enough today,” Corrigan told his charges after it ended.
“We had a number of great shots that we just did not put away. We had four or five that you just can’t miss.
“This was not a game where we’ll look at it and say we could have lost by eight. This is about us having the mental toughness to go through what you go through in the middle of the season. With our schedule if you have a day where you don’t finish balls and the other team does, that could be a tough day.
“We’ve got to get back on the horse-it’s as simple as that. We’re strapping it up with the big boys every week. When it doesn’t work out you strap it up again and get ready for the next one.”
It’ll be a quick turnaround for Notre Dame’s only midweek game of the season Tuesday at home against a Marquette team that stands 6-3 after a home win Saturday against St. John’s.
Senior associate athletics director John Heisler has been covering the Notre Dame athletics scene since 1978. Watch for his weekly Sunday Brunch offerings on UND.com.