March 16, 2013

No. 3 Notre Dame Outlasts No. 5 Denver in OT

by Tom Winter | | Live Blog Replay

Jim Marlatt celebrates after scoring in overtime to give the Irish a 13-12 win over Denver at Sports Authority Field.
© Marc Piscotty

DENVER — For the neutral observer, Saturday's clash at the Whitman's Sampler Mile High Classic between Notre Dame and Denver University had it all. There was high intensity, clutch goals, comebacks and even overtime. But for the Denver fans who packed Sports Authority Field at Mile High, it was heartache all over again as Notre Dame edged DU in overtime after reeling off two goals in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 12.

It wasn't quite a case of history repeating itself — the game would have had to stretch to three overtimes to echo the epic encounter of last year — which saw Notre Dame edge Denver by 10-9 in South Bend, Ind. Still, DU coach Bill Tierney must be wondering what he has to do to get a win against the Irish after regulation time ended in another draw, setting up overtime. The Irish won the ensuing faceoff and didn't look back, as Notre Dame's Jim Marlatt scored an unassisted goal 2:51 into extra time to give the Irish a 13-12 victory.

"Both teams were battling, it was a great game," said a clearly deflated Tierney in the post-game press conference. "But we need to learn how to take a lead and not give it up."

Indeed, it did seem as though the Pioneers had Notre Dame's number this year as they held a 12-10 advantage with less than three minutes to play in regulation after DU senior attackman and Denver native Eric Law scored unassisted to pad the lead.

But Notre Dame wasn't done. Steve Murphy scored on a feed from Tyler Kimball to cut the advantage to one before the unthinkable — at least for DU fans — happened. With 47 seconds on the clock, Sean Rogers came through for the Irish to tie things up. The goal punctuated a fantastic game for Rogers, who led the Irish with three goals and one assist.

"It was a great win," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We'll enjoy it in the locker room and then start getting ready for Ohio State."

But for Denver, it's back to the drawing board as they head into a matchup with Air Force on March 23.

"It was the second week that we played mainly a zone defense," Tierney said. "I think that Notre Dame saw what we did at Ohio State and they had a plan.

"You can practice and prepare for a game like this. But you have to be in them. Last week we won by a goal. This week we lost by a goal. You can't get too elated or too down. We are 5-2 and that's not too bad.

"I think we take out of this game that every game will be a battle," added Tierney.

But there's no doubt that this loss will stick in the throats of DU's seniors, particularly Law, who was visibly disappointed afterward. Law led the Pioneer attack with four goals and two assists to tally six points on the day. With two tough losses to the Irish over the past two years, Law may not get a chance for revenge, and he knows that the Pioneers let this victory slip away.

Still, Law was able to find some positives to take away. "I think it is a great event for the local lacrosse community," said Law of the Whitman's Sampler Mile High Classic. "It means a lot to come to a stadium like this and it shows just how well the game has grown out west."

With the loss, Denver moves to 4-14 all time against the Irish, with its last win against Notre Dame coming in 2008.

Denver moves to 5-2 overall on the season.

Notre Dame ends its loosing streak at one after suffering an 8-7 loss to Hofstra at home. Next up are crucial games against Ohio State (March 20) and Rutgers (March 24).

Loyola Too Much For Air Force

For a while it looked like there might be a miracle. At least until the second half started. Air Force played an inspired first half during its Whitman's Sampler Mile High Classic matchup with Loyola, going into the break trailing 5-3. But the eighth-ranked Greyhounds pulled away to win 13-7.

Loyola played without 2012 Tewaaraton Award finalist Mike Sawyer, who didn't travel to Denver because of injury. Nikko Pontrello (four goals, two assists) and Justin Ward (two goals, five assists) led the Greyhounds' offense.

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