February 16, 2013

Notre Dame Pounds Duke on Snowy, Cold Afternoon

by Henry Gargan | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

Notre Dame raced to an 8-1 halftime lead before Duke found any kind of offensive rhythm on a snowy, cold day in Durham.
© Mark Abbott

DURHAM, N.C. — For a spectator at No. 3 Notre Dame's win against No. 4 Duke, it would have been reasonable to assume that the weather had something to do with the South Bend, Ind., team's 13-5 margin of victory against a team from North Carolina.

Nearly every variety of winter precipitation — from wet, flaky snow to tiny pinpricks of ice — fell upon the field during Saturday afternoon's matchup at Duke's Koskinen Stadium.

But Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan was quick to dismiss that notion that South Bend's colder climate had prepared his team any better for the weather.

"We practice inside," he said. "We didn't even go outside this week — it was about 45 in South Bend — and we said, 'You know, you can't get used to the crappy weather. You just suck it up and play through it.'"

In the end, it was Notre Dame's ability to weather a different kind of storm — a resurgent Duke team in the second half — that allowed the Irish to win their season-opener by an eight-goal margin.

In the first half, Myles Jones provided Duke's only goal with 39 seconds remaining before halftime. Even trailing 6-1, there was hope that the Blue Devils would have some momentum to ride into the third and fourth quarters.

Then Notre Dame exploded for another two goals to end the half.

Both junior midfielder Jim Marlatt and freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh had hat tricks for Notre Dame by the end of two quarters.

Duke, on the other hand, didn't make a mark in the shots column until more than 11 minutes of game time had elapsed. Heading into halftime, Notre Dame had taken 27 shots to Duke's six.

"I thought we played unbelievable defense, which ignited our offense," Kavanagh said. "They didn't have the ball much in the first quarter, and we controlled possession."

In the first quarter, Duke coach John Danowski said three missed clears and zero faceoff wins kept Duke from having the ball long enough to generate any sort of offensive rhythm.

The Blue Devils used a press defense in an attempt to stifle Notre Dame's offense high up the field, but gave up a number of easy goals in the process, including the last of the half, which came from Kavanagh eight seconds after a restart following a faceoff violation.

"We just told our guys that if they're pressing, just run by them," Corrigan said. "On the whole we did a good job of keeping the field balanced and putting ourselves in a good position to take advantage of the mistakes that they made. When you do spread out that much defensively, when you do make a mistake, it's a big mistake."

Danowski said Duke played tight in the first half, and the Blue Devils didn't settle down until after halftime.

"Maybe there was the realization that we had nothing to lose since it was 8-1," he said, "but we played a lot harder, and I think the guys had a lot more fun. I don't think anyone had any fun in the first half, and it showed."

In the second half, the tide indeed seemed to turn. Duke opened the third quarter with three quick goals and had much better luck between the lines. Brendan Fowler got into a rhythm in the faceoff X for Duke, ending the game at 15-for-22. With the ball, Duke began to attack on its own terms.

"When you're not winning faceoffs, the only other way to get the ball is to get saves and takeaways — we're not a takeaway team, so you're down to saves," Corrigan said. "They took a couple of good shots and scored a couple, so we didn't have a way to get the ball back."

Josh Offit scored two second-half goals for the Blue Devils, while Jake Tripucka and and Jordan Wolf added one apiece after halftime.

At 8-4, Corrigan said that his team felt like it was under siege after such a lopsided first half. But he credited his defense for making sure Duke got no closer.

Goalkeeper John Kemp made six critical second-half saves, but was helped by the rest of his defense, which forced the Blue Devils' attackers to shoot from distance and at odd angles.

The wet field prevented either team from dodging and darting inside with any real agility or showmanship, but Corrigan said that was to be expected.

"Offensively, it was the kind of day where you're not going to play well — you're not going to look good," he said. "It's just about making plays, and we did that. We certainly had our share of mistakes and turnovers too, but if you can put 13 on the board it's a good day."

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