Matt Kavanagh continued to impress as a Tewaaraton Award finalist and ten Irish players scored goals as Notre Dame dominated Dartmouth, 20-5 over the weekend.
The game was in-hand by the end of the first quarter, which saw the Irish score seven goals, go 10-10 from the face-off X, rip off 19 shots and pick up 14 ground balls.
Dartmouth kept it interesting early, holding Notre Dame to a 2-2 margin until the 5-minute mark of the first quarter. Sergio Perkovic (3g, 0a) and Mikey Wynne (3g, 0a) had those goals for the Irish.
Then ND unloaded.
Cole Riccardi (3g, 0a) took a Jim Marlatt (1g, 1a) pass and buried it past Dartmouth goalie Blair Friedensohn. Nick Ossello (2g, 0a) scored 40 seconds later. Nearing the end of the quarter, Kavanagh and Trevor Brosco (2g, 0a) scored and Riccardi added his second of the day to push the lead to 7-2.
The Irish defense took care of the rest.
Goalie Shane Doss was a little rocky to start, giving up 2 scores before even registering a save. It didn't matter however. The Irish defense remained stout through the end of the half, and didn't allow the Big Green to get any more points on the board.
Dartmouth also struggled during the few possessions they had in the first half. A slew of errant passes ended the possibilities for goals by the Ivy League squad. In addition, starting face-off middie Phil Hession did not register a face-off win, and was eventually replaced by Krieg Greco, who was a paltry 8-22. The lack of face-off wins meant Irish possessions, and the 29 first half shots went to proving that point.
The second half saw more of the same. Mikey Wynne and Perkovic completed their hat tricks and fans got to see Irish reserves enter the fold. Notably, middle Pierre Byrne netted two scores for a two point day. In all, an astounding 42 (!) Irish players saw action on Saturday as ND moved to 3-0 on the season heading into an all-important matchup with Denver.
Some thoughts before the films post:
Matt Kavanagh has changed his game and it makes him even more dangerous.
Kavanagh tallied 7 total points, with 2 goals and 5 assists against Dartmouth and despite the relatively easy first three games, Kavanagh has not yet played a game this season where his goals outnumber his assists. For a guy who averaged roughly 3 goals and 2 assists a season ago, and 2 goals and 1 assist as a Freshman, it only goes to show how his game has changed. The goal scorer has now become a more-balanced player. That is largely due in part to the emergence of Mikey Wynne as a goal-scoring force, as well as defenses keying up on him. Despite that, he had an easy go of it as a feeder. At this point in the season, Kavanagh is averaging 2 goals and 3 assists. Numbers like that will keep him in the discussion for major awards at the end of the year, and keep the Irish alive come tournament time should they get there.
Doss and the Irish defense can't have a start against Denver like they did against Dartmouth.
Pretty ugly start for Doss in net at home. Granted, the first goal by the Big Green came on the man-up but was only after a highly questionable penalty call at the other end on Wynne for an Illegal Bodycheck. The second goal wasn't pretty either, though Doss and the Irish defense would eventually buckle down on Dartmouth. Denver is not Dartmouth though. Denver is an offensive, goal-scoring, trigger happy team that will eat the Irish alive if they can't get a defensive stand early. More second quarter performances and less first quarter performances will help the Irish get the win on the road.
Despite the loss of Liam O'Connor, the Irish face-off remains dangerous.
I have a hard time calling face-off specialists "bad." If you take face-offs on a Division 1 level, you have to have a modicum of talent at the position to earn the spot. That is why I am very reluctant to criticize Hession and Greco for Dartmouth. They weren't bad. More simply, Notre Dame's face-off middies were really good. Ossello went 8-12, P.J. Finley went 7-9 and John Travisano, Jr. went 4-6. That is impressive no matter how you slice it. Denver relies heavily on Trevor Baptiste, who went 11-22 against North Carolina, so the opportunity might be there for the Irish to take advantage in their tougher contests.
OFD Films, Lacrosse Edition: Dissecting an Irish Goal
When you get a game like the Irish had against Dartmouth, some of the goals that are scored are a matter of transition, or a screened goalie or another variable that can't be counted on. Some though, occur in a settled offensive situation and it is then that you can see what the Irish are made of offensively.
Let's take a look at one of those goals. Video stills are courtesy of FIDM using WatchND and I highly recommend checking out the videos!
ND's offense is settling into a 2-3-1 alignment. Kavanagh (3) and Conor Doyle (6 offscreen) are behind GLE (goal line extended), Trevor Brosco (1) and Jim Marlatt (2) are up top with Marlatt only playing up because of Dartmouth's defensive look. Cole Riccardi (5) and Mikey Wynne (4) are on crease.
I mention that Marlatt is playing up top because take a look at Dartmouth's defense here. They are playing REALLY close and in-tight. They are sitting a short-stick middle and a longstick on the crease and letting Doyle and Kavanagh roam behind the goal. There are no adjacent shutoffs or hard-man defense. This is likely on purpose. Dartmouth's coaches probably didn't want their d-men going 1-on-1 against the ND attack and are compensating with a tighter defensive look. This works if the defense pays attention and communicates.
They didn't, and you'll see why.
Marlatt is up top and faking a shot on net. As a result, he gets Dartmouth to open up a little bit on defense. Kavanagh's man sluffs to him and the crease d-men line up in sliding positions. ND (deliberately I am thinking) runs to the side of the short-stick slide (D1). Why Dartmouth elected to have a shortstick middle on crease, I don't know. I would have kept two longsticks down there, but they probably didn't want one buried on the crease. Either way, D1 is the primary slide (the "hot") and D2 is the 2nd slide.
This is where paying attention and communication are important. BOTH crease defenders are ball-watching. As a former LSM, our coaches always drilled us into having our "head on a swivel." That meant keeping tabs on our man while being conscious of where the ball was at any given time. Think of it like denying-the-ball in basketball. In this case, Phil Hession of Dartmouth, who should be guarding Wynne on the crease, is only watching Kavanagh, thus allowing Wynne to cut to open space. Austin Duncan (#33) is also playing really close in, which is leaving Cole Riccardi (#15) open on the top-right.
Disaster for Dartmouth. Hession looks to where Wynne was and is turned completely around as Wynne has already cut around him. Likewise, you can see Marlatt doing the same at the stop of the screen. So Kavanagh has three options. He can toss it to Wynne or force a pass to Marlatt or Riccardi. Either way, this is a cut off a swivel run to perfection.
Kavanagh goes with option 1 and passes it to Wynne who is wide open on crease for the goal. Hession's hips are turned and there is no slide from any of the adjacent defenders because of the proximity.
So...what did we learn?
We learned many things from both sides. On offense, we learned that a tight defense can be beaten if the crease attack makes smart cuts. That crease attack should always wait until the defender looks away. The feeder must be patient and wait for the open man or reset the offense. No point in forcing something that isn't there. Also, don't lollygag with the ball. If you are on crease and get the ball, it should be a catch and shoot situation. Wynne scored here because he didn't mess with the ball once he got it. He caught and shot. At that range, a goal should be automatic.
On defense, the most important thing for any defenseman is to keep your head on a swivel! Always be conscious of where your man is. Communicate! If you ever watch a lacrosse game with natural sound, you'll always hear defenders yelling "who's hot?" or "I'm hot" or "I'm two." Always be shouting out for who your 2nd slide is when you are on crease.