If, at the beginning of the season, you said the Irish would be 3-1 a third of the way through, you’d probably be 100 percent OK with that record.
Sure, you’d expect that loss to come against No. 2 Maryland or No. 8 Denver, but in typical Irish fashion, the loss came to a vastly inferior opponent while the wins came against teams that should have destroyed Notre Dame.
Last weekend, in sunny California, the Irish defeated the notorious Denver Pioneers by a score of 10-7. Denver came into the game ranked No. 8 and the Irish No. 10, marking the second consecutive upset for Notre Dame a week after defeating the Terrapins.
It’s interesting to note there aren’t any teams in the top-20 this week who haven’t lost at least one game, outside of No. 9 Ohio State, which has played a complete joke of a schedule to this point. The Buckeyes will be tested this week against the very Pioneers Notre Dame just defeated, and the following week, they’ll play the Irish themselves in what should be a highly entertaining matchup.
It’s also worth mentioning there are no easy games left on the Notre Dame schedule. It’s pretty incredible, actually. Seriously, take a look at their remaining opponents:
AT No. 12 Virginia
AT Michigan, just three days after playing at UVA
vs. No. 9 Ohio State
vs. No. 13 Syracuse
AT No. 2 Duke
vs. Marquette (only easy-ish game remaining)
vs. No. 3 Cornell
vs. North Carolina (should be ranked, only losses coming against Denver and Johns Hopkins by a combined three goals)
So while we should certainly be celebrating the recent run of success for Notre Dame, we have to consider the road ahead. It’s really, really tough.
WHERE THE IRISH SHINED
If you were watching this game on YouTube like I was, first of all, congratulations, you sat through the worst commentary in the history of sports. I mean, that was transcendentally bad. Second, you could tell the Irish were playing with a lot of confidence. Notre Dame jumped out to an 8-3 halftime lead and simply outclassed the Pioneers, who are no doubt experiencing the throbbing hangover of life without Trevor Baptiste. The Irish dominated the faceoffs in the first half before slacking a bit in the second with a big lead in hand, and though Notre Dame allowed Denver to inch back into the game, the Irish were effectively in control throughout the game.
As far as statistical performers go, it was the usual suspects - Bryan Costabile led the team with three goals, Brendan Gleason and Brian Willets followed with two apiece, and the defense - led by Arden Cohen and Hugh Crance - was absolutely suffocating. The duo combined for eight ground balls and three caused turnovers.
WHERE THE IRISH LACKED
The turnovers this season have been out of control. Notre Dame could’ve easily put Denver to bed for good if they could hold onto the ball and stop making mental mistakes. The Irish committed 19 turnovers to the Pioneers’ 15. As it is in football and basketball, losing the turnover battle decisively rarely results in a win. Got to tighten that up.
I’ll go with Costabile, who racked up three goals and one assist. Over the past couple of games, the Irish attack has been a lot more balanced, which is certainly a good thing. It’s better to have multiple threats on offense than just Bryan Costabile scoring nine goals a game and losing.
As previously stated, it’s tough sledding ahead for the Irish, but this weekend’s game against No. 12 Virginia in Charlottesville is very winnable. It’ll be on TV on ACC Network Extra.
In case you missed it, here are the highlights from last night's Irish win over the 10th ranked Pioneers!#GoIrish☘️ pic.twitter.com/tVZ0VpOowM— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) March 11, 2019