Well, I tried to warn you.
At face value, Richmond wasn’t all that threatening coming into Saturday’s game. Unranked with an early-loss on their record and no star power on their roster, the Spiders appeared to be just another tune-up before Notre Dame took on national power Maryland in Week 3.
The Irish, coming off a blowout of Detroit-Mercy in Week 1, didn’t seem worried about the Spiders at all, and it showed early in the first quarter. Richmond scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the game and finished the quarter with a 4-1 lead.
Notre Dame closed the gap in the second quarter after a goal from Gleason and a couple more from Bryan Costabile. At this point, you started to get the feeling Notre Dame was going to flex its talent and roar back in the second half.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, the Irish committed seven turnovers coming out of the break, many of which were unforced, as Richmond extended its lead to 7-5. Connor Morin displayed some fourth-quarter heroics after the Spiders took a 9-6 lead, scoring a pair of goals to get the Irish back to striking distance with under five minutes to play.
MORIN AGAIN!— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) February 23, 2019
The sophomore scores his 2nd of the game to cut the Spiders lead to 1 at 9-8! 4 minutes left in regulation. Take a look at his 1st goal of the day.
: https://t.co/9FfkuW7nHg#GoIrish☘️ pic.twitter.com/UGD59znlzT
The Irish had two legitimate chances to send the game to overtime, but turnovers by Quinn McCahon and Charles Leonard crushed Notre Dame’s comeback attempts before they even got started as Richmond held on for the win, 9-8.
WHERE THE IRISH SHINED
Arden Cohen is an animal defensively. Despite the loss, Cohen was a bright spot for the Irish, picking up twice as many ground balls as anyone else on the field and forcing one turnover to round out a really impressive day.
WHERE THE IRISH LACKED
Quite a few places, namely:
- The unforced errors were the defining statistic in Saturday’s loss. The wings on this team have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.
- Goalie play was substandard. There were at least two or three saves Matt Scmidt absolutely could have made, but didn’t. The poles on this team are too good to be giving up nine goals on just 20 shots on target.
- The offense. What is going on? Schematically, the Irish looked very unorganized and simply deferred to Bryan Costabile and prayed he’d make a play. Costabile scored two goals on 12 shots and many of those were far from open looks.
- I know Notre Dame won the faecoff battle 11-9, but in my eyes, that’s just not good enough to be a legitimate championship contender. You’ve got to generate more possessions, and when you have those possessions, stop turning it over for no reason. The Irish face a gauntlet of a schedule, and possessing and retaining the ball is going to be instrumental in their success—or demise.
- For the record, Richmond should have been ranked coming into this game. I don’t want to discredit the Spiders at all, that’s a really strong team. They jumped Notre Dame in this week’s polls, and rightly so. It’s a physical team with gifted players on offense and will be in the conversation for playoff bids when the time comes.
I don’t like to do the moral victory thing, so I’m not going to award MVP to a Notre Dame player. I’ll give it to Richmond’s sophomore attackman Ryan Lanchbury, who scored a game-high three goals on seven shots. He coughed up the ball a few times against Notre Dame’s vigorous defense, but you can’t deny his natural talent to create space for a shot and finish. I really think he’s going to have a special year.
The No. 17-ranked Irish are hoping to do some shell-shocking against the No. 2-ranked Maryland Terrapins on Sunday, March 3, at noon.