Aggressive riding -- nonstop fury that encompasses 110 yards of action, the hallmark of field play -- is a beautiful thing. There are only a few programs that are willing conceptually cause havoc from end-to-end, but those that do should have the first lacrosse facility built on the moon named in their honor. Notre Dame isn't exactly a program that has adopted an approach that pursues aggressive riding as a necessary component of their success -- over the last four seasons, the Irish have an average riding success rate of 13.06 percent and an average riding success rate ranking of 49.5 -- but against Detroit in the NCAA Tournament last spring, Notre Dame dusted off its ride to try and erase a seven-goal deficit in order to advance to the national quarterfinals.
The result was somewhat shocking: After dialing-up full-field pressure, the Irish absolutely took control of the game. The focus comes in the fourth quarter, a period in which Detroit suffered four consecutive failed clears -- all at the start of the fourth quarter -- that turned a 7-3 lead for the Titans into a 7-7 game with over 10 minutes to play. The important aspect to this run was that the failed clears directly lead to Notre Dame tallies (Detroit had suffered a failed clear only once before that fourth quarter flurry -- late in the third quarter when John Dwyer committed a turnover off of an A.J. Levell save directly leading to a Matt Kavanagh a finish):
- Failed Clear I: Matt Landis causes a turnover against Tom Masterson and Brian Buglione pounces on the ground ball. Kavanagh gets an easy finish on the crease in a transition opportunity. 7-4, Detroit. 14:13 remaining.
- Failed Clear II: Detroit kills a Notre Dame possession inuring from a faceoff win thanks to a Rogers turnover, but the Titans blow the clear on a poor pass at midfield. Buglione -- again -- jumps on the groundball and draws an infraction. Kavanagh takes the bean on the restart, meanders down the field into the alley, and rips one past Levell with little molestation. 7-5, Detroit. 13:17 remaining. Detroit takes a timeout to settle play.
- Failed Clear III: Detroit kills a Notre Dame possession with a Levell save, but Nick Ossello causes a turnover against Jordan Houtby on the clear just past midfield. The end result is an Irish tally in transition 10 seconds later from Rogers off of a Marlatt assist. 7-6, Detroit. 12:28 remaining.
- Failed Clear IV: Detroit kills an extended Notre Dame possession -- about a two-minute adventure that included a 30-second man-down situation -- on a Hebden groundball pickup resulting from a blocked shot. Will Corrigan causes a turnover against Masterson, Marlatt corrals the groundball, and Kavanagh knots the scoreboard with his third goal in four minutes. 7-7, 10:10 remaining.
That's why riding matters.