Notre Dame jumps out to early lead, cruises to tournament win vs. Harvard
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Sixth-seeded Notre Dame opened the game on a 7-0 run and never looked back en route to a 13-5 win against unseeded Harvard in the first round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship on Saturday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium.
The Fighting Irish offense was spearheaded by a four-goal performance from senior attackman John Scioscia, while sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh added two goals and three assists. Goalie Conor Kelly, a junior, made a career-high 17 saves for the Irish, who have a season-best four-game win streak.
Notre Dame (10-5) kept Harvard off the scoreboard for the opening 23:45 of the contest. The five goals allowed tied a season-low total for the Fighting Irish and it also matched the least amount ever surrendered by Notre Dame in an NCAA tournament game.
"I was really happy with the way our guys came out [Saturday]," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We came out with a lot of energy and our execution early in the game was very good. Coming off an exam week you're never quite sure what you're going to get ... I thought they did a good job of focusing and coming out strong [Saturday]. I thought that was obviously a key part of the game, to get up early."
A man-up goal from Scioscia 7 minutes into the contest snapped a scoreless tie and he scored again a little more than 2 minutes later. Kavanagh assisted on both tallies. A Conor Doyle deposit at the 4:52 mark of the first quarter pushed the Irish advantage to three.
Consecutive scores from Kavanagh early in the second period made it 5-0. The second goal was on a man-up opportunity. Notre Dame was 3 of 8 in man-up chances, while the Irish defense limited the Crimson to just one goal in seven tries with a man advantage. Scores from Doyle and Sergio Perkovic gave the Fighting Irish a 7-0 lead by the 6:25 mark of the second quarter.
"We have a lot of different people who can hurt you and for teams defensively they have to pick their poison of what they want to give us," Corrigan said. "We're lucky the last couple of weeks they've been giving us some inside stuff and John has been doing a great job of getting open and putting balls away."
Harvard (10-7) responded with four consecutive scores to trim the Irish cushion to four with a little less than 7 minutes left in the third quarter. That Crimson run began on goals from Will Walker and Devin Dwyer before halftime and then Deke Burns and Ian Ardrey continued the scoring into the third quarter.
Another man-up goal from Scioscia off a feed from Kavanagh snapped the uprising and ignited a 5-0 Fighting Irish surge. Tallies from Perkovic, Scioscia and Will Corrigan in the opening minutes of the fourth period gave Notre Dame an 11-4 lead. A Jack Near goal upped the advantage to eight with a little less than 9 minutes left to play. Following a man-up deposit from Burns, Notre Dame's Bobby Gray netted the game's final goal.
Senior Liam O'Connor took all of Notre Dame's face-off attempts and he went 13 of 21. Harvard held a slim 35-33 advantage in shots and Crimson goalie Jake Gambitsky made five saves.
The eight-goal margin of victory was the largest ever for the Fighting Irish in an NCAA tournament game. Notre Dame has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship each of the past five seasons and nine times overall in program history.