March 8, 2009

Courtesy of Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second time in program history, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team defeated a team ranked in the top three of the national polls as the seventh-ranked Fighting Irish took down No. 3 North Carolina, 9-7, on Sunday afternoon inside the Loftus Sports Center. A Loftus Sports Center record crowd of 1,437 watched the top-10 showdown.

Senior attackman Ryan Hoff (Baldwin, Md./Dulaney) led the Irish offense as he produced his first hat trick of the season. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y./MacArthur) and the stingy Notre Dame defense held the Tar Heels, who entered the game averaging nearly 15 goals per game, to just seven tallies. Rodgers made 16 saves on the day to help Notre Dame improve to 4-0 for the second straight season.

Notre Dame (4-0) trailed 4-3 at halftime, yet the Irish defense held North Carolina scoreless in the third quarter and took a 5-4 advantage into the final stanza. The Fighting Irish used third-quarter goals from junior Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga./The Lovett School) and Hoff to take the lead for good. Seniors Peter Christman (Simsbury, Conn./Westminster School), who matched a career-high with three assists on the day, and Duncan Swezey (Ambler, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) assisted on the goals.

Hicks made it 6-4 early in the fourth quarter and his classmate Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's) gave the Irish a three-goal advantage with their fifth straight score as he deposited his second man-up tally of the game with 11:16 left in regulation. Christman assisted on the Krebs goal.

The Tar Heels (6-1) cut the deficit back to two (7-5) as Sean Burke scored with 4:22 left in regulation. Overall, Notre Dame held North Carolina scoreless for 29:57 during the stretch from the second to fourth quarter. The Fighting Irish edged their margin back to three (8-5) when Hoff put home his second goal of the day off a feed from Swezey at the 3:05 mark.

North Carolina answered back 13 seconds later on a Billy Bitter goal to make it an 8-6 contest. Notre Dame won the ensuing faceoff and sophomore Andrew Irving (McLean, Va./The Hotchkiss School) scooped up the ground ball and found Hoff, who scored to complete his hat trick and put the Irish up 9-6 with 2:44 left on the clock. Bitter produced the game's final goal with 2:17 left in the contest.

The game's scoring began when Krebs scored on a man-up opportunity off an assist from Christman with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter. Notre Dame was 2-for-4 in man-up chances, while the Tar Heels were 0-for-1. North Carolina goals from Bitter and Jimmy Dunster gave the Tar Heels a 2-1 lead after the opening 15 minutes of play.

Notre Dame knotted the contest (2-2) as sophomore Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) found the back of the net in the early stages of the second quarter. Christman gave the Irish their first lead of the game (3-2) as he scored off a feed from Krebs with 10:34 left in the first half. Back-to-back goals from Sean Delaney gave the Tar Heels a 4-3 lead at the intermission.

The besting of the third-ranked Tar Heels matched the highest-ranked opponent a Notre Dame team had ever defeated. The Irish downed No. 3 Johns Hopkins during the quarterfinals of the 2001 NCAA Championship.

The Fighting Irish return to the field with a date against Bucknell on Thursday, March 12 at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md. Game time is slated for 4:00 p.m. (ET).

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March 8, 2009 - Loftus Sports Center - Notre Dame, Ind.
#3 North Carolina (6-1) - 2 2 0 3 - 7
#7 Notre Dame (4-0) - 1 2 2 4 - 9

North Carolina Scoring (goals-assists):
Billy Bitter 3-1, Sean Delaney 2-0, Sean Burke 1-2, Jimmy Dunster 1-1; Goaltender: Grant Zimmerman (L, 60:00, 10 saves, 9 GA)

Notre Dame Scoring (goals-assists):
Ryan Hoff 3-0, Grant Krebs 2-1, Neal Hicks 2-0, Peter Christman 1-3, Zach Brenneman 1-0, Duncan Swezey 0-2, Andrew Irving 0-1; Goaltender: Scott Rodgers (W, 60:00, 16 saves, 7 GA)