Notre Dame never trailed in their 11-6 victory over Maryland in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The win sends the Irish to the national championship game for the second time in the program's history -- the team's last appearance came in 2010, a 5-6 overtime loss against Duke -- while Maryland continues its extended national title drought, one that has endured since 1975.
The game was defined by Notre Dame exerting a massive crushing of Maryland's soul, dominating play and turning mistakes from the Terps into preferable opportunities. The Irish entered the half with a 6-4 lead, but the margin on the scoreboard did not match the full-throttle beating that Notre Dame put on Maryland:
- The Irish strung together a four-goal run that turned a 2-2 tied into a 6-2 lead for Notre Dame. In the run, Notre Dame scored in a multitude of ways: One goal was scored directly from a faceoff win, one goal was scored directly from a Conor Kelly save, another tally was generated directly from an unforced turnover by Maryland, and another bucket came directly off of a caused turnover. That push -- coming in a 6:04 stretch that included two goals in the last 16 seconds of the first quarter (the tallies coming five seconds apart) -- gave Notre Dame the cushion it needed to put the Terps away.
- Maryland won 10 of 12 faceoffs in the first half but did absolutely nothing with the advantage. The Terps held only a 20-17 possession advantage at the intermission thanks to a combination of horrendous valuation of the ball -- Maryland turned the ball over 12 times (the Irish caused seven of those giveaways) -- and a complete inability to crack Notre Dame's motivated defense. Kelly had seven saves on 19 first half shots from Maryland, and the Terrapins' four goals were an even mishmash of capitalizing on an Amato save, a caused turnover, a faceoff win, and an Irish unforced turnover. Notre Dame refused to yield and Maryland was more than willing to engage in useless possessions (this may provide clarity: 60 percent of Maryland's first half possessions ended in turnovers).
It was ruthless oppression from Notre Dame in the game's first 30 minutes with the Irish scoring on more than 35 percent of their offensive opportunities and Maryland scoring on a paltry 20 percent of theirs. The second half -- a coronation for the Irish -- would not deviate from the script written over the first two quarters:
- Notre Dame would score on five of their 17 second half possessions (29.40 percent) while Maryland would scored on just two of their 16 second half opportunities (12.50 percent). The Terps committed turnovers on 43.80 percent of their second half possessions (just three of the seven giveaways were caused) while the Irish turned three of those turnovers into goals.
- Maryland shot just 10.5 percent in the second half while the Irish shot 31.30 percent.
The Irish earned everything they got against Maryland (Matt Kavanagh's seven points on five goals and two assists was the hallmark of Notre Dame's effort agaisnt Maryland), and the Terps did little to make themselves a viable outfit against a surging Notre Dame team. The Irish looked like a team peaking at the right time of the year while Maryland looked like a team finding its legs in late-February.
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE
|Possession Margin||+2 (36)||-2 (34)|
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||16.67||32.35|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||15.79%||32.35%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.06||1.00|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||52.78||52.94|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions||17.14||32.86|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||29.41||38.89|
|Team Save Percentage||47.62%||70.00%|