Albany v. (1) Notre Dame
Lyle Thompson's college career has come to a close after a 10-14 loss to Notre Dame in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament. Thompson collared his 400th career point against the Irish and established himself as the NCAA's all-time assists leader, but his one-and-four effort against Notre Dame wasn't enough to topple the Irish at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Conor Doyle had four points for Notre Dame and Sergio Perkovic had an indispensable four-and-one assault in the Irish's triumph. Shane Doss and Blaze Riorden held identical 50.00 save percentages at the final gun while Riorden's 14 stops slightly outpaced Doss' 10 saves.
The first half was slow from a goal-scoring standpoint but still maintained a heightened level of interest. Notre Dame entered the intermission with an 8-4 advantage, weathering both a dangerous Albany attack and a 30-minute lightning delay that came with the Irish holding a one-goal edge and a hint of momentum with 5:44 remaining in the half. The Great Danes seemed to dictate the first 15 minutes of action, scoring the game's initial goal and never trailing in the opening period, but Notre Dame moved from its chase position to the pole in the second stanza, going ahead of Albany on a Jack Near bouncer in the thick of the Danes' defense to earn a 3-2 lead with 13:45 remaining in the first half. The Irish then pounded Albany's cage following the weather stoppage, crushing home four goals in less than three minutes while yielding a single tally to the Great Danes in the same stretch. Arguably the most prominent aspect of the first half hour was the issue that Albany had in registering markers: The Great Danes scored on approximately 20 percent of their 20 estimated offensive opportunities while shooting a woeful 23.53 percent and committing nine total turnovers, the team's inaccuracy leading to an almost two-thirds save percentage for Doss and the team's turnover rate killing 45 percent of Albany's estimated offensive possessions. Notre Dame, contrastingly, cashed in on over a third of its 23 estimated offensive opportunities and shot 25.81 percent against Riorden, shuttling away less than 30 percent of their estimated offensive opportunities via turnovers. The Irish out-shot Albany 31-17 over the course of the first two quarters while only earning an estimated plus-three possession margin, outworking and outclassing the Great Danes at both ends of the field.
The third quarter belonged to Albany, the period featuring the Danes taking their first advantage since the 7:11 mark of the first quarter. Albany deposited five goals past Doss in the frame on a hyper-efficient eight shots, the Great Danes utilizing over 45 percent of their estimated 11 offensive opportunities to generate markers. Connor Fields adopted animal theory in the penultimate quarter, figuring in three of Albany's quintet of tallies in the period -- the attackman had two goals and an assist in the frame -- to help the Great Danes to a 9-8 lead after 45 minutes of competition. The fourth quarter, however, was a vicious pivot from Albany's domination of the third period: Albany didn't register its first shot on goal in the final stanza until 2:09 remained in regulation and Notre Dame erupted for six unanswered goals -- Sergio Perkovic had a role in three of the Irish's buckets -- to ease into Championship Weekend while the Danes were left with the empty reality of unrealized possibilities due to an impotent final period in their 2015 campaign. The stark contrast in Albany's close and Notre Dame's finish to the contest is telling: The Irish created goals on half of their 12 estimated opportunities while Albany converted on just one of its 10 estimated trips, the Great Danes shooting an awful 12.5 percent while Notre Dame canned the bean on 60 percent of its 10 shots. The Fighting Irish were a quiet plus-two in estimated possession margin but the team's insane efficiency at the apex of the game progressed Notre Dame forward for a shot at the program's first national championship.
|Estimated Possession Margin
|Estimated Raw Offensive Efficiency
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate
|Estimated Turnover Rate
|Team Save Percentage