March 18, 2017
By John Heisler
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan got the game ball on an emotional night for the University of Virginia graduate—with lots of his family in the Klockner Stadium audience.
Ryder Garnsey got to sign autographs long into a chilly and wet Virginia night, even though he was part of the visiting team.
And the Irish, in the midst of what the NCAA rates the most difficult schedule in the country, got yet another lesson in why the little things count as they played their third straight one-goal game.
Garnsey’s goal—on an otherwise frustrating night in which he managed only three shots and had four turnovers (he did have three assists)--capped off a wild night that included a 72-minute weather delay and gave Notre Dame an 11-10 overtime win over Virginia in Charlottesville.
The win pushed the second-rated Irish to 4-1 and left Virginia still looking for its first ACC win since 2014.
It also gave the Irish their fifth straight victory in the series and made sure Notre Dame hadn’t lost in Charlottesville since 2006 (an NCAA first-round game against the top-rated Cavaliers).
Said Corrigan before the game: “It’s been a long (spring break) week of a lot of logistics. Be here, be there, hang out and hurry up and wait. Let’s not lose our focus. We came on this trip to win two games. We can’t do anything about the one, but we’ve got the other one right in front of us. Let’s make sure we’re dialed in on the things we need to be doing.
“Every game in this sport is about hundreds of decisions. Sound fundamentals and great communication are the things that make your decisions reliable. Leave one of those short and the other team can force you into a decision before you’re prepared. We’re going to work our fannies off to be in the position every single time to play aggressively and get after it. We gotta make some plays today, fellas. That’s our game. Let’s go do it.”
Virginia (now 5-3) came in tied for second in the country at 16.29 goals (second to Brown where first-year Cavalier coach Lars Tiffany used to be) to go with 49.7 shots per game. And that sort of fast-paced shooting in Virginia’s favor somehow still played out for Notre Dame thanks to some amazingly-accurate early sniping on the part of the Irish.
The Irish got off to a quick start, with senior captain Sergio Perkovic streaking right down the pike for an easy goal on a pass from Garnsey less than two minutes into the action. Virginia had three turnovers in the first three minutes, and junior attack Mikey Wynne made it 2-0 just more than three and half minutes into the opening period on an assist from sophomore Brendan Gleason.
The Cavaliers rolled up an 11-4 edge in shots (caused in part by six Notre Dame turnovers, four caused by Virginia) before the lightning, thunder, wind and rain came. All that delayed the action and forcing the stadium to be cleared at about 6:18 p.m. local time with 3:07 on the clock and the Irish on top 2-1--with Irish senior goaltender Shane Doss already producing five saves.
Play resumed after a delay of more than an hour despite ongoing steady rain. The Cavaliers tied it at 2-2 at the 1:06 mark after Notre Dame’s seventh turnover—then Wynne answered from a tough angle with :12.2 remaining. So the Irish led after one quarter despite being outshot 13-5.
Virginia took advantage of a major penalty against the Irish to tie it again on an extra-man goal at 13:41 of the second period. Then came a four-goal Irish spree.
At 9:53 freshman Bryan Costabile gave the Irish a 4-3 edge—though the Cavaliers remained on top in the shot category 21-6. Perkovic followed with one of his patented rockets 66 seconds later for a 5-3 advantage, and Bobby Gray did the same at 7:25 (six goals on only eight shots)—and that prompted a Virginia timeout (after three Irish goals in 2:27). Then, after Virginia’s eighth turnover, Wynne scored again from Garnsey (seven goals on 10 shots and four goals in 2:55) and the half ended 7-4 for Notre Dame.
“We got the pace about where we want it,” said Corrigan to his squad at intermission. “We’re not giving up silly breaks because we’re taking good shots at the offensive end and it’s hard for them to play out of that. We’re getting great step-down opportunities.”
The rain stopped early in the third period, and the home team scored twice in 28 seconds to regain some momentum and cut the Irish lead to 7-6 at 12:08 of the third period. A third straight tally by the Cavaliers tied it 7-7 at the 8:15 juncture, and the Irish had to call time after Virginia scored its fourth consecutive goal to take its first lead at 8-7 at 5:34.
Gleason tied it at 8-8 at 2:29 (from middie Drew Schantz) before Virginia went ahead at 1:04 on its fifth score of the period. The Cavaliers led 9-8 after three, and by then Michael Kraus had five goals, two in that key third period.
Pierre Byrne opened the final period scoring as Garnsey drew the defense and assisted—to tie the contest at 9-9 at 8:20 before the Cavaliers regained a one-goal advantage at 6:33. Perkovic’s third goal of the evening tied it 10-10 at 4:47 and then things really got interesting. Notre Dame called a pair of timeouts in the final two minutes, but Byrne missed in the final minute and Virginia’s last possession ended without a shot attempt.
Both teams had opportunities in overtime, with Perkovic and Byrne missing shots on Notre Dame’s first possession. Virginia called time at 1:50 but the Cavaliers lost possession—and Irish senior defender Garrett Epple made a rare move into the offensive zone, worked himself free and found Garnsey in front of the goal from about eight yards out.
How long had it been since Epple was credited with an assist?
“It was a while ago,” he allowed.
Shouted Corrigan to his team just after it ended, “Hey, we said it was going to take two things, right? It was going to take playing well and making plays—that’s making plays right there.”
The Irish survived despite coming up short 50-34 in ground balls and losing 15 of 24 face-offs. Both teams had 18 turnovers--and Doss was excellent, finishing with 14 saves.
“This is the season, right?” Corrigan said to his team in the locker room. “One goal against Maryland, one goal last week, overtime tonight. It’s what our season is gonna be. I just want to bang that drum--everything matters. One possession is deciding these games and it isn’t always the last possession. Let’s keep working, we’re going to keep getting better. I love the way we stayed together even when we got down in the second half. We’re just looking to make the next play. Let’s keep marching forward, baby.”
The reward for a season-opening win in ACC play?
It’s a home game next Saturday against an 8-0 Ohio State team that plays Denver Sunday.
The Irish will press on.
-- ND --
Senior associate athletics director John Heisler has been covering the Notre Dame athletics scene since 1978. Watch for his weekly Sunday Brunch offerings on UND.com.