May 24, 2014

Notre Dame Coasts to Semifinal Win Over Maryland

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive | May Madness Home

In-Game Blog Replay


Matt Kavanagh continued a great tournament run with five goals and two assists for Notre Dame as it advanced to Monday's finals against Duke. (Bill Danielewski)

Highlight Video via Notre Dame Athletics

BALTIMORE — This isn't your older brother's Notre Dame.

Score six goals to win? Sure, the Irish will still do it if they have to, like in a one-goal win over Maryland in the ACC semifinals a little more than a month ago. But Notre Dame is just as comfortable hanging double-digits on opponents, like they did in the four games ahead of Saturday's NCAA semifinal rematch with the Terps, averaging 15 goals per game in the span.

Notre Dame didn't quite reach that number this time, but with Maryland favoring a slower pace, an 11-6 win at M&T Bank Stadium was just the variety the Irish needed, even if just a bit short of what they have shown capable of.

Notre Dame (12-5) will play top-seeded Duke (16-3) for the championship at 1 p.m. Memorial Day Monday. It's a rematch of the 2010 final that ended with a Blue Devils' 6-5 overtime victory.

"Five or six years ago," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said, "we were that team that was slowing people down and taking the ball away. But you coach to the talent that you have. When you watch us play, we have some pretty good athletes."

It showed Saturday in many areas.

Notre Dame sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh finished with five goals, and set the tone early with a hand in each of the Irish's first three goals, scoring two and assisting on the other. He had a hat trick five minutes into the second quarter, and added two more in the third quarter.

Kavanagh handled a one-on-one matchup with Maryland defenseman Goran Murray just fine, and while he played from his traditional low lefty spot, he also moved around the field, keeping Maryland's defense off-guard.

"Trying to make the defense a little uncomfortable," Kavanagh said. "I popped out up top a couple times to the wings. Moving me around puts the defense's heads on a swivel. Murray didn't really want to slide off of me. The other guys were just playing great."

Irish goalie Conor Kelly, a junior playing in his first final four, finished with 14 saves and although faceoff man Nick Ossello only finished with three faceoff wins, he often tangled up Maryland specialist Charlie Raffa, who re-injured his leg in the first half and didn't take a draw after the opening faceoff of the second quarter.

"Nick is just an athlete," Corrigan said. "For three years, he's played some role for us and an increasingly big role. He figures out a way to be an impactful player in a game. You love guys like that. You really don't know where it's going to come from day-to-day, but he brings it."

Ossello also finished with two goals, as did 5-foot-6, 155-pound attackman John Scioscia.

The Notre Dame defense had a grip on Maryland, holding the Terps to just one goal each in the final two quarters to stretch a 6-4 halftime lead into a 10-6 lead late that sent most of the 30,428 fans in attendance to the exits early at the home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

Kelly, a junior goalie who had lost his starting job in the middle of the season, turned aside what he needed, even if Maryland coach John Tillman said the Terps too often deviated from the plan to pepper Kelly with high shots. Notre Dame's defense held an opponent to single-digits for the eighth time this season.

Maryland's Joe LoCascio was the only Terp to score more than a single goal (two), and he did it by taking 12 shots.

"They outplayed us in almost every facet," Tillman said. "At times we played well but not consistently enough."

Maryland had eight turnovers in the first quarter, yet it was still tied at two with 2:05 left in the first 15 minutes. Tillman called timeout with Notre Dame on offense with under a minute left to switch into a zone, a decision he said post-game he regretted making after the Irish scored two goals in the final 16 seconds of the opening quarter, giving Notre Dame "a lot of confidence and some momentum," Tillman said. "That's on me for calling that timeout."

The Irish went on a four-goal run before Maryland scored again with 8:34 left before halftime.By then, it was 6-3. Jay Carlson scored on the crease right before the end of the third quarter, but after that Irish scored six of the game's final eight goals.

It was a slow drip on the way to a Notre Dame win in the second half, but there was more than meets the eye.

"They played a little bit faster than us today," an emotional Maryland goalie Niko Amato said.

See, Notre Dame doesn't mind that all.

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