Duke came into this game averaging nearly 15 goals a game, and left only having scored 6. Myles Jones, their high-scoring, 6'5" 245 lb midfielder scored zero goals. Deemer Class scored just one. Wow.
It was a dreary, 40 degree South Bend day, not exactly recruiting brochure material. The Irish offense did not build on their success in Syracuse and spent the first 45 minutes finding new ways to throw the ball over teammates' heads. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Normally, this would be a disaster against a high-scoring team like Duke, but the defense bailed them out big time.
Perkovic led the Irish with a very un-Sergio like hat trick, with a lefty shot, a goal in transition off a Garrett Epple ground ball, and a goofy looking dodge in the left alley. Garnsey had two acrobatic goals, and Mikey Wynne added another nice crease goal. Kyle Trolley added a late goal and Brendan Gleason got on the scoresheet today.
Duke's defensive plan seemed to be to clog up the middle and try to take Wynne and Kavanaugh out of the game. For the most part it worked. Kavanaugh was scoreless, and Wynne had the one goal and, for him, an inordinate amount of missed shots.
Maybe the weather had something to do with it, but the offense was a mess. Late in the game they executed fairly well in transition to generate some points to secure the win.
A review of our pre-game keys:
*Jones (0,1) and Class (1,1) where flat-out stopped. Guterding (2,2) was effective, but on his own was not nearly enough. The defensive midfield deserves a medal for taking one for the team. Sexton, Crance, Gaiss, Schantz and Collins were punished by the massive Myles Jones. But every time Jones would knock one of them down, another slid in to take over. Other than for one or two brief exchanges convincingly won by the Fighting Irish all-american, Jones stayed clear of Matt Landis by staying up high, but the D middies were up to the challenge, Bravo! Note that by the end of the game, Jones was completely gassed and Duke had difficulty keeping him on the field. Folks, Myles Jones is the leading active scorer in the NCAA and the preseason, if not current, favorite to with the Tewaaraton, and he was silenced. Simply amazing play by the Irish D.
*The offense did not take advantage of the Duke D at all. Granted, Duke had a good plan and was very conservative to avoid unsettled situations, but Notre Dame shot themselves in the foot offensively with poor stick work and wildly inaccurate passing.
*The Ride was again magnificent, keeping Duke's scoresheet clear rate to 77%, but employed the same tactics on faceoffs and completely worked over the Blue Devils. We've gotten to the point where the Ride is getting into the opposition's head. Teams come into games knowing the Ride will make life miserable, and they make stupid mistakes in anticipation of the pressure.
*Epple did start and played a great game. He did take a penalty and was caught on his heels for one or two of the Duke goals, but he was otherwise excellent and was back on the faceoff wing in tandem with Sexton creating all kinds of havoc, including a key ground ball shoveled to Perkovic to tie the game late.
The defensive midfield will get most of the credit for the defensive performance and they did play exceptionally well, but the game plan was not simply to keep Jones and Class from scoring, they also had to keep them from having anyone to pass to. Matt Landis took care of business on the back line so the the D midfield could take the aggressive and physical risks they did. Once again, Landis' efforts will not show up on the scoresheet, but the plan does not even come close to working without him acting like superman in the back. Tewaaraton Trophy hopeful Denver's Cattinzarro was held in check earlier in the season, and now Jones and Class were completely shut down by the Notre Dame defensive machine. #MattLandisTewaaraton.
Inside Lacrosse/Lax Film Room also had a great analysis of the D.
*It was confirmed that Koshansky is out for the season with a knee injury. We hope he recovers well and quickly.
*Kyle Trolley got the start over the injured Brandon Collins. Trolley is a very exciting and very fast player that adds a great new dimension to the offense, but it seems from his play there is no secret why the senior has not gotten more chances earlier in his career: he constantly hangs his stick out box lacrosse-style (including in the final minute where keeping possession was so critical). Unless your name is Lyle Thompson, no coach will let you do that.
*So that it does not go unmentioned, Shane Doss was again fantastic with 11 saves.
*Kudos to that huge crowd for sticking it out through the elements, especially the 1000+ youth lacrosse players who came to the game, and kudos to Notre Dame Lacrosse for such great outreach.
*Duke and Virginia play next week to avoid playing in the ACC Toilet Bowl. The 5th place ACC team is excluded from the ACC Tournament in Atlanta and will instead play a game against Brown after the semifinals. Unfortunately for excluded team, Brown is in the top-3 and and averaging 18 goals a game.
For our OFD football friends, please send this Perkovic GIF to our Notre Dame football safeties:
The Irish hook up with Marquette on Wednesday, matching up the top two defenses in the county. The final score may be two to negative-one. We'll have a preview up on Tuesday.