Feb. 27, 2005
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The 10th-ranked University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse team (1-0) held #21 Penn State (1-1) scoreless in the final 25 minutes, tallying six unanswered goals en route to a 14-6 season-opening triumph Sunday afternoon in Holuba Hall. The Irish, who got hat tricks from all three of their starting attackmen, turned in their largest margin of victory ever in a road game vs. a nationally-ranked opponent and began the season with a win for the fifth time in the last six years.
After Notre Dame held an 8-5 halftime advantage, Penn State junior A Nate Whitaker netted his third goal of the game (for his second hat trick in as many contests this season) 4:43 into the second half. That would mark the end of the success of the Nittany Lions offense, as the Irish held PSU scoreless for the final 25:17, while keeping the Lions to only 12 shots (just five on goal). That defensive effort - keyed by fifth-year senior G Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md./Landon School), senior LSM Chris Richez (Freeport, N.Y./Freeport H.S.), junior D D.J. Driscoll (Downingtown, Pa./Malvern Preparatory School), sophomore D Joey Rallo (Cockeysville, Md./Boys' Latin H.S.), and freshman D Ross Zimmerman (Utica, Mich./Brother Rice H.S.) - was nothing new for Notre Dame, which in 2004 for held opponents scoreless for 25 minutes or more on four occasions.
Crosland, who is 3-1 with an 8.10 goals-against average and .677 save percentage in four career games against Penn State, stopped 73.9% of the shots he saw on Sunday, making 17 saves, a sum he surpassed just twice last season. Eight of those came in the opening quarter, when Penn State - who beat defending Great Western Lacrosse League champion and 14th-ranked Ohio State 9-7 in Columbus last weekend - outshot the Irish 13-9, but could not parlay that into an advantage on the scoreboard, as Notre Dame held a 4-2 lead after 15 minutes.
Richez also picked up two ground balls in the game, while Driscoll - a preseason third-team All-America selection by Inside Lacrosse - led the Irish in the category with six. Rallo, who was Notre Dame's top defensive reserve in 2004, made his second career start and picked up a pair of ground balls, while Zimmerman opened his collegiate career with a starting assignment and also had two ground balls.
The stingy Irish defense opened the door for Notre Dame's explosive offense - which has back five of the top seven scorers from last year's unit that finished second in Division I in scoring offense (12.50 goals per game) - to break the game open. Junior A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) - a third-team All-American in 2004 - was the instigator in that effort, as he factored in five of the six Irish goals in the final 25 minutes after having just one point prior to that in the contest. Notre Dame's leading goal scorer in 2004 with 21, Walsh tallied for the first time this season just 53 seconds after Whitaker had brought Penn State to within two. He would later in the third period take a pass from freshman M Michael Podgajny (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley H.S.) - who started in his first collegiate game - and score a man-up goal for Notre Dame to extend the lead to 11-6, with 2:19 left in the quarter. Walsh then scored again with 4:59 left in the final period off an assist from junior M Matt Ryan (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley H.S.) and then assisted on the game's final score, a man-up tally from junior A Matt Karweck (Pann Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) with 4:05 remaining.
Walsh began the game with 99 career points, and he became the second-fastest player in Irish history to register his 100th career point, doing it in his 27th collegiate game. The only faster scorer was 1995 graduate Randy Colley, who reached the century mark in his 21st game and finished his career as by far Notre Dame's top all-time leading scorer (273 points, 88 more than second place). The previous second-fastest to 100 was John Olmstead, who did it in 34 games and finished his career in 1989 with 146 points.
It was the 10th time in Walsh's career (more than one-third of his all-time games) that he registered five or more points in a game, while he also scored three or more goals for the seventh time. Walsh had three goals and two assists against Penn State in 2004.
Karweck was outstanding in his collegiate debut at attack, where he moved to after his classmate, M Brian Hubschmann (Short Hills, N.J./Delbarton H.S.), suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month. Karweck scored three goals and assisted on another, reprising his role as a Nittany Lion killer. Last year, he scored a career-high four goals on just four shots in the season opener vs. PSU. Sunday matched Karweck's career high in points (done three times previously) and was the fourth time in his career that he scored three or more goals.
Notre Dame's other starting attackman, senior co-captain A Jim Morrison (Fulton, Md./Mount St. Joseph H.S.), also netted three goals, scoring on all but one of his shots in his return to action for the first time since the 2003 season. A former walk-on, Morrison missed all of the 2004 campaign with injuries and had appeared in only five games in his career prior to Sunday, scoring just one goal (2003 vs. Butler). An unknown commodity to Penn State (having not played at all against PSU in his first three years), he was a major factor early in the game, scoring each of Notre Dame's first three goals to give the Irish a 3-2 advantage 5:33 into the contest. After the Lions began the scoring 2:30 into the contest with an unassisted goal from sophomore M Patrick Heim, Morrison responded with his own unassisted tally just 18 seconds later to tie the score. He then scored 2:11 later off an assist from Ryan and then responded to Whitaker's first goal 24 seconds later with a tally from Karweck.
Ryan found the net himself on two occasions, scoring with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter and again late in the third and finishing the game with four points (after going scoreless in two previous games against Penn State). The two goals matched the career high (first done against North Carolina last year) for the midfielder, who had seen a good deal of time in a defensive role in his first two collegiate seasons. The four points also matched his career best, which he did against both Hofstra and Denver in '04.
Notre Dame's other goal scorers were senior co-captain M Brian Giordano (Princeton, N.J./Hun School) and sophomore M Bill Liva (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Malvern Prep School). It was the first in the collegiate career of Liva, who did not even take a shot in 2004, despite playing in all 12 games. His score came in the second quarter off the first career assist by senior M Colin Fatti (Skaneateles, N.Y./Skaneateles H.S.).
The Irish outshot Penn State 40-37 and also held slim advantages in both ground balls (35-32) and faceoffs (won 12 of 23). Notre Dame, which won just 44% of faceoffs in 2004, got a great collegiate debut from freshman M Taylor Clagett (Chesapeake Beach, Md./DeMatha Catholic H.S.) - the brother of 2004 graduate Steve Clagett - who won 12 of the 18 faceoffs he took and picked up five ground balls.
Notre Dame's EMO - which finished 14th in the nation last year with a .358 conversion rate - again was effective against Penn State, scoring on half of eight opportunities (two goals from Karweck, one each from Walsh and Giordano). In 2004, the Irish failed to capitalize on their first EMO against the Nittany Lions and then scored on each of their ensuing six.
It was the second year in a row that Notre Dame opened the season with a big victory over a ranked Penn State squad. In 2004, it was the 11th-ranked Irish topping #17 PSU 17-7 in the Loftus Sports Center. The Nittany Lions defense had allowed more than 11 goals in a contest just once in 12 games since the schools last met.
Rookie G Joey Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep School), a prep All-American, made his collegiate debut Sunday, playing the final 4:59 of the game in relief of Crosland. He saw four Nittany Lions shots, but just one was on goal (it resulted in his first collegiate save).
The victory gave Notre Dame the first three-game winning streak by either school in the all-time Irish-Penn State series. It also marked the second year in a row that the game was decided by eight or more goals after there had been just one previous game decided by eight scores or more among the prior 10 contests between the schools (PSU won the first-ever meeting 9-1 in 1989 at home). Notre Dame has won eight of 12 all-time meetings with Penn State, including three in a row in University Park.
Prior to Sunday, the largest margin of victory ever for the Irish against a ranked team in a road contest was five goals, done against #17 Army in 2000 (10-5) and #18 Rutgers in 2001 (9-4).
Notre Dame will return to action on Saturday, March 5, when it plays at #9 Cornell at 1 p.m. (EST) at Schoellkpf Field in the Big Red's season opener.