Feb. 26, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 12th-ranked Notre Dame men's lacrosse team opened the 2006 season in fine fashion by downing No. 14 Penn State 8-4 in the Loftus Sports Center on Sunday afternoon. Two-goal efforts from freshmen Peter Christman (Simsbury, Conn./Westminster School) and Ryan Hoff (Baldwin, Md./Dulaney) and a solid day in goal by sophomore Joey Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep) helped to pave the way for the Irish, who have now won four straight season-openers all against the Nittany Lions.
Both teams played to a scoreless first quarter thanks to solid defense and goaltending from Kemp and Penn State's Drew Adams. Kemp would collect 13 saves on the day, while Adams made 16 stops as they both played all 60 minutes. The Fighting Irish defense continued to play solid the entire day as they forced eight failed clears for the Nittany Lions en route to giving up just four goals. The four tallies were the fewest allowed by an Irish defense since a 12-2 victory over Air Force during the 2004 season and the fewest in a season-opener since 2000, a 10-4 win over Penn State.
It would not take the Irish long to crack the scoring column in the second quarter as Christman took a pass from senior Brian Hubschmann (Short Hills, N.J./Delbarton) and sent it in with 40 seconds gone by in the stanza. Penn State countered with the equalizer with 10:50 left to play in the half as Nate Whitaker scored his first of three goals with the assist to Rob Forster. The Irish, who never trailed at any point during the game, would notch back-to-back goals by Hoff and senior Matt Karweck (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) with the assists going to sophomore Michael Podgajny (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley) and junior Bill Liva (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Malvern Prep), respectively. The Nittany Lions made it a 3-2 match heading into halftime with an unassisted Greg Gurenlian goal with just 47 seconds left.
Penn State evened up the contest again as Whitaker collected his second goal of the day on an assist from Brian Boyle. That marked the only scoring for either squad in the third period.
The Fighting Irish would erupt for five goals in the final period of play to secure the win, yet it did not come without a fight from the Nittany Lions. Christman tallied an unassisted goal to put Notre Dame up 4-3 with 12:06 left to play. Hoff would then notch a man-up goal for his second score of the day with a feed from Podgajny at the 9:56 mark.
However, Penn State would not go away as Whitaker netted the hat-trick on another assist from Boyle to make it 5-4 with just under six minutes left to play.
Notre Dame's second man-up goal of the afternoon would be pivotal as it gave the Irish a 6-4 advantage with just over four minutes remaining in the contest. Liva collected the score to give himself a career-best two-point game, while Hubschmann notched his second assist of the day in what was his first game back in the Irish lineup after missing all of last season to injury. Podgajny would then net an unassisted goal at the 2:35 mark to put a capper on his three-point performance.
As the game neared the final horn it looked as though Notre Dame senior All-American Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) may be held point-less for just he second time in his career. However, Walsh would deliver with a score at the 1:55 mark on a pass from Lucius Polk (Washington, D.C./St. Albans) to establish the final margin of 8-4.
Most of the stats in the contest were very close. The Irish out-shot the Nittany Lions 38-35 and also collected three more groundballs, 30-27. Notre Dame senior defender D.J. Driscoll (Downington, Pa./Malvern Prep) picked up a game-high five groundballs as part of a strong day for the Irish defense. The Fighting Irish converted on two of their four extra-man opportunities, while Penn State did not capitalize on any of its three chances.
Notre Dame now owns a 9-4 mark all-time against Penn State.
Walsh and Karweck have now scored in all four of their season-openers at Notre Dame and Karweck also carries a nine-game point streak heading into next Saturday's match versus Cornell.
The Irish will battle the ninth-ranked Big Red next Saturday (March 4) in Lisle, Ill. at Benedictine University. The game, which is technically a home game for the Irish, will be the first-ever NCAA Division I men's lacrosse game in the Chicago-land area. Game-time is set for 12:00 p.m. (CT).
Stay up-to-date on the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team by logging onto und.com or by calling the Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
#14 Penn State (0-1) - 0 2 1 1 - 4
#12 Notre Dame (1-0) - 0 3 0 5 - 8
Penn State Scoring:
Goals: Nate Whitaker 3, Greg Gurenlian 1.
Assists: Brian Boyle 2, Rob Forster 1.
-- ND --