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Men's Lacrosse: Irish romp in season opener, 19-7

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Notre Dame outshot Jacksonville 56-18, out-ground balled them 48-22 and out-faceoffed them 23-7 for one of the Irish's most dominant season-opening victories in recent memory.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

It was over after the first face-off.

Notre Dame Face-Off Middie Liam O'Connor was 19-25 at the circle and Matt Kavanagh scored three goals and added three assists as Notre Dame rolled in their season opener, 19-7 over the Jacksonville Dolphins.

With the victory, the Irish have won 18 of their last 19 games in February and this one wasn't in any doubt.

Notre Dame unleashed an offensive fury in the first quarter on Jacksonville goalie Peter DeLuca, scoring 8 goals on 24 shots. The combined face-off duo of O'Connor and Nick Ossello went 9-10 from the center circle to set the tone of the contest, as Jacksonville struggled to get their offense going with the limited amount of possessions that they had.

Notre Dame benefitted from returning 70% of their offensive scoring from last year's squad, and it showed. The Irish Attack unit, considered to be one of the team's key strengths, scored the first three goals of the contest, putting the game away early.

Kavanagh, a potential Tewaarton Award watch-lister, was unguardable for most of the first half. Dolphins head coach Guy Van Arsdale, a former Irish assistant, was unable to find a defensive scheme for his troops that could contain Kavanagh and the other Irish attackmen, as the Irish offense moved the ball at will and easily beat the late slides of the Jacksonville defense.

But you can't win without possession, and O'Connor and Ossello didn't let up, winning face-off after face-off. When Duncan Clancy was able to stop the bleeding with a quick-strike goal to make it 3-1, O'Connor took the following face-off for a scoop-and-score, killing any momentum that Jacksonville was hoping to gain.

Adding to the completeness of the Irish victory was a staunch defensive unit led by Irish Captain Stephen O'Hara. The Irish longpoles kept Jacksonville's attack unit in check on their limited possessions and provided a nice front for new Notre Dame netminder Conor Kelly, making his first start in goal. Kelly was up-and-down in the limited shots he faced. While he made four saves, he did allow four goals in. It didn't really matter though.

Another question mark going into the season was the look of the new Irish midfield. Led by Irish co-Captain Jim Marlatt, they did not disappoint. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan decided to put new Irish middie Sergio Perkovic and Sophomore Trevor Brosco with Marlatt on the Irish first line and the new trio combined for four of the Irish's 19 goals. Marlatt would end the game with 2 points and 5 ground balls, including a highlight-reel goal off one of his ground balls. Perkovic, a true Freshman in his first collegiate game, had the look of a future All-American, burying two lasers past DeLuca and playing really sound off-ball.

In all, 13 different players scored goals for Notre Dame, as Coach Corrigan emphasized high-percentage shots and sound off-ball movement.

It was a disappointing loss for the Dolphins, who gave defending National Champions Duke a scare the previous week, losing 16-10 in a game where Jacksonville scored the first three goals of the contest before the Blue Devils mounted a comeback. As tough as they played Duke, Jacksonville gave Notre Dame no problems as the Irish set the tone early and often with what amounted to a complete victory.

With the win, the Irish move to 23-4 in the month of February and have their home opener this Saturday in South Bend against a Penn State squad coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Loyola Greyhounds.