Maryland and Notre Dame played a lacrosse-like product for 58 minutes and then pressed the button that threw everything into hyper drive, making lacrosse a blur wherein it was previously in static animation. It was a brutish homage to trench warfare at PPL Park, but Notre Dame -- the tournament's four-seed -- emerged with a 6-5 win that not only pushed the Irish into a position to win the ACC's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament but also alleviated concerns about the team's potential at-large profile for NCAA Tournament consideration.
Over a third of the game's scoring occurred in the fourth quarter, a period in which the Irish caught fire and turned a one-goal deficit into an eventual one-goal win. But it's not the scope of the fourth quarter that's interesting; it's the last two minutes of the game that ultimately shaped the volition of the outcome.
With the score knotted at five, Notre Dame turned a fruitless Maryland possession -- Conor Kelly saved a Henry West shot after a two-plus minute possession -- into an offensive opportunity, killing a chance for the Terps to try and ice the game and suffocate the Irish into non-existence. Notre Dame took a timeout with 2:02 remaining in regulation and, directly out of the timeout, promptly committed an unforced turnover that gave the Terps the bean with a chance to hold for the final possession of the game -- or close to it -- and generate the game-winner. Out of a timeout with 1:16 left on the clock, Connor Cannizzaro started with the ball in the right restraining area below goal line extended. Cannizzaro dummied the ball until about 27 seconds remained on the ticker and then took off for "X." After curling the cage, Cannizzaro moved the ball to Joe LoCascio in the high left slot, who then shoveled the ball to Mike Chanenchuk in the middle of the field. Chanenchuk -- playing on a bum tire -- was stripped by Garrett Epple and that's when things went plaid.
Jack Near scooped up the groundball and raced down the middle of the field. When Near got into the attack box he drove the ball to Matt Kavanagh in the right flat. Kavanagh -- with little harassment -- dumped the ball past Niko Amato for the go-ahead -- and game-winning -- goal with just a hair over six seconds remaining in the game. Maryland would win the ensuing faceoff, but LoCascio was unable to capitalize on the short possession after sailing a shot high and wide of the net.
Notre Dame's only lead of the game was its most important, ensuring that (1) the Irish finish the year with at least a .500 record, (2) the Irish's at-large resume -- should Notre Dame fail to capture the ACC's auto-bid -- is more complete than it was when the weekend started.
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||24.00||16.13|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||20.00%||13.51%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.20||1.19|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||48.00||51.61|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions||21.43||33.93|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||38.71||36.00|
|Team Save Percentage||70.59%||60.00%|