Feb. 26, 2017
By John Heisler
The Big Ten Conference had not been shy about trumpeting its combined 23-0 men's lacrosse record as of Sunday morning--with Michigan one of four league teams at a perfect 4-0 as the Wolverines headed to South Bend scoring 14.5 goals per game.
Meanwhile Notre Dame had in mind protecting the reputation of the Atlantic Coast Conference after three of its members--third-ranked North Carolina, sixth-rated Syracuse and seventh-ranked Virginia--lost Saturday.
And maybe Michigan fans retained at least a glimmer of hope of extending that conference streak when Wolverine senior midfielder Mikie Schlosser scored 70 seconds into the third period to cut Notre Dame's lead to 7-5.
That's when the Irish lowered the boom.
Seven straight goals last weekend to enable Notre Dame to run away from Georgetown? Kevin Corrigan's squad was two better than that Sunday with nine consecutive goals to end the game in a 16-5 triumph for the fourth-ranked Irish.
Ten different players scored goals, 11 players scored points (Brendan Collins added a pair of assists), three freshmen notched goals for the home team on a sunny but blustery 46-degree day at Arlotta Stadium--and the Irish peppered Michigan goalie Tommy Heidt to the tune of 54 shots.
Corrigan expected the visitors to show up brimming with some confidence after posting those four victories, all by at least five goals.
"We need to play good, strong, hard, physical lacrosse," he told his team before the action began. "They're going to come out slinging the ball around and looking to make plays. Our execution is what needs to show through."
The Irish had a 3-0 lead (including an opening goal that the Wolverines flipped into their own net) before Michigan had a shot on goal. By halftime the visitors had more turnovers (12) than shots (nine) and Notre Dame had caused a bunch of those.
The Irish by the break had outshot Michigan 25-9 and had turned the ball over only five times. But Notre Dame had only a three-goal advantage to show for it--but Schlosser's tally at 13:50 of the third period only opened the dam.
Heidt actually played well to make six third-period saves and nine of his 17 after the halftime break. But the Irish won seven of the final eight face-offs in the contest and Michigan simply ran out of gas as the game wore on.
Notre Dame scored six times in the final period and finished with only nine turnovers.
Mikey Wynne had three goals (receiving credit for the first one), Ryder Garnsey had a pair of goals and a pair of assists, while Pierre Byrne and Timmy Phillips both had two goals. Freshmen Brian Willetts, Bryan Costabile and long-stick defender Jack Kielty all scored for the home team.
Corrigan loved the way his team's offense kept the pressure on Michigan all afternoon, with few wasted possessions. Like a week ago against Georgetown, the Irish efficiency was solid.
"We've had two games with a lot of really good possessions," he told his team after the game. "We're not scoring on all of them but very few are ending with turnovers or bad shots. We've kept pressure on people with our offense.
"I love our first two games. We got challenged a little bit in both of them--we were outplaying both these teams consistently, we just weren't outscoring them consistently. But we continued to play well and get to where we wanted to get to in the end. Let's keep making those good decisions."
The Irish matched their offensive output from week one (16 goals) and allowed half as many goals as Georgetown put on the board last Saturday.
So make it 23-1 for the Big Ten.
The Big Ten makes another visit to Arlotta Stadium in six days in the person of top-ranked Maryland, a loser in last year's NCAA title game--and Corrigan knows the ante is raised from a schedule standpoint with the Terps and then Denver (they shared the top spot in this past week's Inside Lacrosse media poll) on the docket the next two weekends.
The Irish came into action today with a second-rated NCAA strength-of-schedule standing.
They'll absolutely earn their way the rest of the spring.
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