After the stinging defeat at home against Duke, the Notre Dame lacrosse team found themselves at a crossroads. With a spot in the ACC tournament all but assured, were they going to mail it in or were they going to shoot for an NCAA berth?
Let's take a look at how the Irish fared:
Notre Dame at Marquette
Irish win 12-7
Player(s) of the Game
Notre Dame's first midfield line.
As I stated above, the Irish first line dominated this contest. Jim Marlatt and Trevor Brosco each had a hat trick and Sergio Perkovic added a score. Marlatt also had an assist.
It is always tough to travel to an away game so quickly after a loss like the Duke game but give credit to the Irish for hanging tough against the Golden Eagles. Marquette efficiently shut down Kavanagh, leaving the game in the hands of the Irish midfield and they certainly stepped up. Also stepping up? John Scioscia, the Irish 3rd attackman who had been borderline invisible the previous two games.
Also worth noting is what we didn't see: the game. Probably a sign that lacrosse isn't quite there yet, the game wasn't on any web or tv station and there was no in-game audio. Having to follow the game is hard enough because without actually seeing the game, you can only go off the gametracker. Nevertheless, the stats show that the midfield and 3rd attack came to play, and it certainly helped the Irish.
Notre Dame vs. Robert Morris
Irish win, 15-5
Player of the Game
Sergio Perkovic (4g, 1a)
Did you know the Irish lacrosse team played a game before the Blue-Gold Game? I didn't realize it until I queued it up, and I like the scheduling idea. With the sheer amount of fans that came to the spring game, having the lax team play provided a solid alternative to all-day tailgating.
That said, this one was over by halftime. The Irish jumped out to a three-goal lead and opened the flood gates in the 2nd quarter, as they have been known to do this season, with a six-goal barrage that allowed Kevin Corrigan to empty his bench in the 2nd half.
The Colonials tried to keep Kavanagh off the scoreboard and somewhat succeeded (1g, 3a) but could not stop Perkovic. The freshman middie went for a hat-trick plus one, scoring all four goals in the first half. Three of them came in a two and a half minute span in the 2nd quarter.
Give a lot of credit to John Scioscia as well. The attackman had his second straight 2-goal game and looked strong in the first half, scoring a man-up goal.
Big Picture: What did we learn?
For starters, we learned that the Irish can win games without Kavanagh being all over the scoreboard. He was shut down by Marquette's defense and Robert Morris keyed up on him. In his place, other players needed to step up and they did.
The Irish also showed that they can win games without a dominating performance by Liam O'Connor. The Irish faceoff specialist was pretty pedestrian against Marquette, winning 11-20, and the Irish responded by making the most of their possessions and going 3-4 on man-up opportunities.
There are signs of concern still. The Irish 2nd midfield line is still pretty absent on the scoreboard and Doss only had 5 saves against Marquette with 7 goals against. His limited work against Robert Morris is also concerning, giving up 3 goals and only saving 3 shots when the Colonials only had 11 shots in the first half. Not really solid stats for the young netminder.
I'm also pretty bearish on the Irish LSM situation. The wing play against Syracuse was abysmal, Duke made the Irish LSM's look downright foolish at times and Marquette's midfield duo of Kyle Whitlow and Ryan McNamara teamed up for two-goals apiece. Now, I didn't see the game, but I'm assuming that Whitlow at least had an LSM on him as both of his goals were even strength. Still, the Irish will need to find a solution fast, as Maryland boasts one of the best middies in the game in Mike Chanenchuk.
I'll have a Maryland preview later in the week, but these two games are not only good for ND's record, they're good for the mentality of a team that will be facing one of the toughest opponents on their schedule. Maryland will be an extremely difficult game, and wins like the last two will help the Irish psyche as they prepare for their final ACC contest before the league tournament.