Irish glad to beat Devils but 'not going to go crazy'

Notre Dame coach praises defense in opener

February 23, 2010|By Edward Lee | edward.lee@baltsun.com

No. 8 Notre Dame fired the first salvo of the young men's lacrosse season by knocking off No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

Perhaps the 11-7 win wasn't a total surprise, as the Blue Devils (1-1) needed overtime to escape No. 18 Bucknell on Feb. 13 and the Fighting Irish had gone 15-0 in the regular season last year before falling to Maryland in the NCAA tournament first round.

Still, it's a pretty significant outcome this early in the season. But for Notre Dame (1-0), the victory doesn't send a message.

"We're not going to go crazy over this," coach Kevin Corrigan said Sunday. "We're certainly thrilled to beat Duke. That's a very good team and a very well-coached team and a team that we have a lot of respect for. And you're always thrilled when you start the year against a good team and get a 'W.' So for all those reasons, it's a good win for us. But it's not something beyond that."

The odds seemed to be stacked against Notre Dame. Before the near-loss to the Bison, the Blue Devils had beaten Team USA in an exhibition; Duke owned a 5-1 advantage in the series over Notre Dame; and the contest was scheduled for Durham, N.C.

But the Fighting Irish scored the game's first two goals and never trailed. The Blue Devils eventually trimmed the deficit to one with three goals in 30 seconds in the second quarter, but they failed to tie the score.

"I think that did help because anytime you're on the road and playing from behind, it's an even tougher chore," Corrigan said of maintaining the lead. "They made a couple [of] runs, and while it never got to even, it certainly got pretty close, and we were certainly feeling the heat from them. But I would say that it definitely helped us to kind of stay poised and stay relaxed, the fact that we were never down."

Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman led all scorers with four points on three goals and one assist, and senior attackmen Neal Hicks and Colin Igoe each contributed two goals and one assist, but Corrigan heaped praise on his defense.

Senior goalkeeper Scott Rodgers made 15 saves, senior Kevin Ridgway limited Duke senior attackman and Tewaaraton Trophy favorite Ned Crotty to two assists, and senior Mike Creighton and sophomore Kevin Randall played well in their starts. Creighton finished with four ground balls and two caused turnovers, and Randall filled in for senior Sam Barnes, a returning All-American who is out with a hamstring injury.

"It starts with Scotty Rodgers. Scotty's terrific in the cage. In my mind, he's the best guy out there, and he made some big saves," said Corrigan, who also cited the play of short-stick defensive midfielders David Earl, Kelly McKenna and Quinn Cully. "I think we also did a great job of playing off-ball defense. I think as well as you have to play on-the-ball with those guys, it's your ability to play off-ball that really has a lot to do with your success because their offensive guys are so good off the ball - [junior attackman Zach] Howell and [senior attackman Max] Quinzani and Crotty with the ball in his stick, finding those guys moving without the ball. I thought our ability to play off the ball was significant as well."

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