Going into Sunday afternoon, the #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish were one of the hottest teams in college lacrosse.
Winners of four of their last five, including two victories in the conference tournament to take home their second ACC championship, the Irish earned the right to host a first round NCAA Tournament game.
Notre Dame was cooled off by a familiar foe, dropping a 9-7 decision to the Denver Pioneers on Sunday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium in South Bend.
Notre Dame’s season at 9-6 (1-3 in conference play). The Irish have lost to Denver in the NCAA Tournament three times in the last four years.
The Pioneers got off to a quick start, scoring two goals within the first three minutes of the first quarter. Ryder Garnsey got Notre Dame on the board with just eight seconds left in the opening frame to make it 2-1 Denver.
In the second quarter, Denver extended their lead to 4-1 with two goals from Ethan Walker. With six minutes until halftime, Garnsey scored his second of the game to make it 4-2. Denver responded with another goal just 28 seconds later. Garnsey completed the hat trick with his third tally of the game to make it 5-3 with 2:47 remaining in the first half. The two teams would take this score into halftime.
Six minutes into the third quarter, Garnsey scored his fourth goal while on the man-advantage to cut the deficit to only one. A Denver goal shortly after made it 6-4 with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter.
This was when momentum started to swing in Notre Dame’s favor.
Mikey Wynne’s 20th goal of the season made it 6-5 with four minutes left in the third.
Three minutes later, a Bryan Costabile goal on the man-advantage tied the score at 6-6. The score remained tied going into the final quarter.
With 11:38 remaining in regulation, Costabile’s second of the game gave Notre Dame their first lead of the afternoon at 7-6.
However, Denver equaled the score just 15 seconds later. With 10:12 remaining, Austin French gave Denver an 8-7 lead with his 29th goal of the season.
Notre Dame was unable to mount a successful comeback attempt, and another Pioneer goal with four minutes left in the game sealed their fate.
Denver advances to play #2 Albany in the quarterfinals.
Garnsey finished the afternoon with four goals, while Costabile added on two more. Denver’s Austin French took home three goals and three assists, while Ethan Walker recorded three goals and one assist for the Pioneers.
Denver goaltender Alex Ready made 10 saves on 17 shots faced.