Notre Dame isn't going to win many lacrosse games when it shoots 18 percent, has the opposing goalie stop 15 shots, goes through two 20-plus minute scoreless streaks, and allows Loyola's Eric Lusby to become a destruction machine with spikes and a big heavy ball that is used to knock over dirty buildings. In fact, Notre Dame is 0-1 all-time when this happens. It's clearly a definitive trend toward failure.
The Greyhounds, despite losing 13 of 14 draws and playing at an eight possession deficit, dispatched the Irish at Gillette Stadium today, 7-5. With the win, Loyola is off to its first national championship appearance since 1990 when the Greyhounds lost to a Syracuse squad that many consider the greatest collegiate team ever assembled.
Loyola was hot right from the start with Lusby, who finished the day with five goals and an assist, factoring into the Greyhounds' first four tallies. The Irish never seemed to recover fully from the 4-1 first quarter deficit, trailing 5-3 at the half and playing in three-goal holes twice in the second half. John Kemp, named on Friday as the nation's most outstanding goalie, had a hot-and-cold day, stopping 13 shots and missing a few cans of corn at various points of play.
Notre Dame's uncharacteristically suspect defensive performance wasn't due exclusively to Kemp's uneven day between the pipes, however. The Greyhounds exploited poor recoveries and slides from the Irish on the afternoon and deftly dodged through one of the most staunch defensive outfits in the country. This is the second time this season that some isolated brain freezes from the Notre Dame defense burned the Irish this season -- the other coming in the Big East semifinals when St. John's dropped the Irish -- and it came at the worst time possible.
And, of course, Notre Dame had no clue how to attack Loyola's undervalued defense.
Outside of Lusby's lumberjack, man-work effort for the 'Hounds today, goalie Jack Runkel turned in the best performance of his career, stopping 15 shots and stifling what had been a surging Notre Dame offense. Joe Fletcher chipped in massively in Loyola's defensive effort, scooping up seven groundballs and causing three turnovers.
Loyola will meet the winner of Duke-Maryland on Monday at 1:00 P.M. ESPN has the television broadcast, which is delicious like macaroni and cheese.
Pace: 56 total possessions.
Possession Margin: +8 (Notre Dame)
Unadjusted Notre Dame Offensive Efficiency: 15.63
Faceoffs: 13 -- Notre Dame; 1 -- Loyola
Unadjusted Loyola Offensive Efficiency: 29.17