February 18, 2012

Irish Take Down Duke in Early Season Again

by Matthew DeFranks | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Live Blog Replay

Notre Dame attackman Nicholas Beattie was cross-checked at the tail end of a scoring play in the second quarter and left the game with an apparent knee injury. His goal was the first of seven unanswered scores for the Irish.
© TD Paulius

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tell me if you've heard this story before.

Notre Dame, anchored by a stingy defense, tops Duke in an early regular season contest.

Sound familiar? In each of the last three seasons, the script has read the same for No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 3 Duke, with the Irish taking the February wins and the Blue Devils claiming the postseason victories in May.

This time, the Irish (1-0) rode a strong effort from junior goalie John Kemp to a 7-3 victory over Duke (1-1) in front of 2,053 fans on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

"It means that you're 1-0," Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. "It means that you go back to work Monday with a smile on your face. It doesn't change anything. We know what the job is. The job is getting back and getting better on Monday."

With the win, the Irish start the season with a victory for the tenth straight year.

"Our guys work very hard in the preseason," Corrigan said. "I think they do a good job of doing what you need to do in the preseason which is to prepare yourself fundamentally so that you're ready to take what comes at you in the first game."

Early in the game, the Irish had trouble solving Blue Devils junior goalie Dan Wigrizer, who had seven saves in the first quarter. Wigrizer finished with 16 saves, one shy of his career high.

"I've never seen him play that well. [Wigrizer] was terrific," Corrigan said. "[I give] credit to our guys for not losing their poise when he really stole some from us early. Both goalies were terrific. You're looking at two of the better guys around."

Kemp stopped 14 Blue Devil shots on his way to equaling a career-high for saves in a game. He came one goal shy of his career-best mark of two goals allowed.

"I thought both goalies were outstanding," Duke coach John Danowski said. "Obviously, their guy was better."

The Blue Devils fired 37 shots – 17 on goal – to test Kemp.

"I thought we came out and played well," Kemp said. "We didn't make that many mistakes. Defensively, we didn't really give up too many good shots and thankfully, the good shots they were able to get off, I was able to stop."

Duke opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game when junior attackman Jordan Wolf found sophomore attackman Josh Dionne in front of the net to give the Blue Devils an early 1-0 lead. Wolf scored his own unassisted goal later in the second quarter, circling from behind the cage, dodging and firing a shot over Kemp's left shoulder.

Wolf did not play late in the fourth quarter because of an injured hip. Danowski said after the game Wolf's status, and if he'll miss any time, is unknown.

Notre Dame answered just over a minute later when senior attack Nicholas Beattie whistled a shot past the previously impermeable Wigrizer. Beattie was cross-checked after the shot by Blue Devils redshirt senior defenseman Michael Manley and suffered an apparent knee injury. Beattie was seen after the game on crutches. Corrigan said he didn't know anything specific about Beattie's injury.

The goal was the first of seven unanswered Notre Dame scores, two apiece from senior midfielder Max Pfeifer and sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt. Pfeifer also chipped in two assists on the day.

"It was really just a group effort," Pfeifer said. "We were taught they like to fake slide and I caught them doing that once and managed to get a goal."

Pfeifer said the Irish did not become discouraged after the rough start.

"We didn't really change anything with our shooting, we just kept it on [Wigrizer]," Pfeifer said. "He was making some good saves, we were hitting him early on. We just kept it on, kept the pressure on, didn't change anything and they just ended up going in. No goalie can keep up that good pace throughout the whole game, unless it's John Kemp."

The Irish scored three goals in less than two minutes late in the second quarter to extend their lead to 4-2. Sophomore attack Westy Hopkins – who scored three goals in Notre Dame's 7-5 loss to Duke in last season's NCAA quarterfinals – tallied his first goal of the season when he converted a Pfeifer pass from point blank range.

Sophomore attack Ryan Mix and Marlatt gave the Irish a 4-2 lead heading into the break.

Duke was unable to crack Notre Dame's defense in the second half. Their lone score came with just 19 seconds remaining and the game already decided.

"The new guys did a good job talking today," Kemp said. "Kevin Randall, he's the senior, he did a good job talking and leading us on the field."

Notre Dame forced Duke into 22 turnovers and limited redshirt senior and All-American midfielder Justin Turri to two shots on goal. Turri was harassed into three turnovers as well.

"I told our guys in the huddle afterwards 'We just got whipped,'" Danowski said. "There's nothing wrong with that. Once they get a lead, it's really really tough. I think they prepared well this week and I thought it was a good week of practice. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. Today, Notre Dame was better."

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