Irish outlast 'Hounds

Earl seals victory by scoring with 48 seconds remaining

March 07, 2010|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

The Loyola Greyhounds did so many things right Saturday against Notre Dame in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic. They took away easy scoring opportunities from the Fighting Irish, they forced them to shoot with a weak hand more often than not, they counterpunched when Notre Dame had all the momentum, and they frustrated and hounded midfielder Zach Brenneman, one of the best players in the country.

But superior talent has a habit of wiping away both the sins and the sloppy play of the victor, and that's exactly what happened at M&T Bank Stadium.

The No. 4 Fighting Irish exerted their will in key moments - scoring two huge goals in the fourth quarter to spoil a spirited effort by the No. 10 Greyhounds - and escaped with a 11-9 victory.

It was another classic clash between the two schools - there were eight ties and five lead changes - but that was almost to be expected. The two programs always seem to keep it close when they get together. Since 2002, the Irish (3-0) and Greyhounds (3-1)have faced one another seven times, and every game before Saturday's had been decided by a single goal. The only reason this one didn't end in a similar fashion was that Notre Dame's David Earl iced it by scoring a goal with 48 seconds left.

"We battled," said Loyola coach Charlie Toomey. "We knew we were going to be limited in our opportunities, but I thought we stepped up and buried our shots. It put us in a position to win the game. I think that's all you can ask."

Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan wasn't exactly in the mood for handing out praise.

"We did not play well," Corrigan said. "We were bad today. Our execution was bad. I don't think that analysis will change after I watch the film. But some days you're not at your best, and you hope you have guys who play hard [and] make a few plays. I thought we made a few plays today. You're living dangerously if you're counting on that keeping yourself in the game, but the best thing I thought our guys did today was compete."

Brenneman made more than a few big plays. The junior Tewaaraton Trophy candidate scored three times, including two in the second half, and neither of those goals came easily. With the game tied at 6 midway through the third period, Brenneman had two defenders riding him to his left, and in a flash, he pivoted the other direction, breaking free for a split second. From 15 yards out, he fired a shot past Greyhounds goalie Jake Hagelin.

Brenneman did it again in the closing seconds of the third quarter, this time with his team trailing 8-7. He backed down two defenders, almost like a power forward jostling for position in the paint, then spun to the middle and found the back of the net.

Brenneman overshadowed a great effort from Loyola's Collin Finnerty, the 6-foot-4 senior who scored three times and looked like the best player on the field for a long stretch in the middle of the game. Notre Dame limited his chances at the start of the game, but the attackman eventually found a variety of ways to score: in transition, from behind the net, and with two defenders draped all over him.

"I was trying to let the game come to me," Finnerty said. "We were trying not to push it too much, just control the ball and see the whole field. I didn't get many looks in the first half. ... But in the second half I started to get some looks and was fortunate enough to finish them."

Late in the game, Loyola seemed like it could smell the upset, and that may have been their undoing.

With a man advantage, junior attackman Eric Lusby scored his third goal of the game on an assist from Matt Langan, and with 12:04 remaining in the game, the score was tied at 9. But Loyola committed four penalties the rest of the way, turned it over seven times, and spent much of the fourth quarter on its heels.

Notre Dame's Colin Igoe scored on a fast break to make it 10-9 with 9:26 remaining, and the Greyhounds started to looked tight as the clock ticked down. They somehow survived being down two defenders at one point, but when they had possession, they couldn't muster a good look at Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers.

"We talked about trying to compose ourselves and enjoy this environment," Toomey said. "And maybe there was a few broken clears we wish we had back. But I thought for 60 minutes we competed and battled. I think we'll watch that game tape, lick our wounds, and start getting ready for Duke."

Notre Dame 2 3 3 3 - 11Loyola 3 0 5 1 - 9Goals: ND-Brenneman 3, Earl 3, Hicks 2, Igoe, Murphy, Pfeifer; L-Finnerty 3, Lusby 3, Comer, Ebsary, Langan. Assists: ND-Earl, Hicks, Igoe, Irving; L-Langan 2, Comer, Moriarty. Saves: ND-Rodgers 11; L-Hagelin 10.

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