JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Clearly the cold South Bend winter has not affected the University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team as the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish were red-hot in Sunday’s 19-7 season-opening victory over Jacksonville in the Moe’s Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic at EverBank Field.
Notre Dame (1-0) used 13 different goal scorers en route to the program’s 12th straight victory in a season opener. Leading the way was sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh, who posted three goals and three assists. Fellow attackman Conor Doyle, a junior, joined Kavanagh with a hat trick.
“The nice part about tonight is that it wasn’t just one thing that was working. We had a lot of different guys contributing and that makes you hard to play against,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We have a lot of guys and I don’t know if we have to play in a way where we have to rely on any one guy. The biggest point of emphasis for us has been off-ball and how we’re moving and what kind of things we’re creating for each other. I thought we did a really good job of that.
“We had a great energy level. We got a lot out of rides, I thought we rode really hard and well. We also got some ground balls.”
The 19 goals were the most for the Fighting Irish since a 19-7 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 28, 2009. That game also was the last time the Irish netted eight goals in a quarter until tonight’s first-period explosion.
Kavanagh picked up where he left off from last season’s 32-goal campaign when he scored the game’s first goal less than four minutes into the action. Sophomore attackman Eddy Lubowicki made it 2-0 with a man-up deposit, which was the first goal of his career. Doyle gave the Irish a three-goal cushion by the 8:58 mark of the first quarter.
Jacksonville (0-2) entered the scoring column on a Duncan Clancy goal with 7:25 remaining in the opening period, but the Fighting Irish responded with five consecutive goals to end the quarter. Those tallies came from (in order) Liam O’Connor, Will Corrigan, Kavanagh, Jim Marlatt and Nick Ossello. Notre Dame led 8-1 at the end of the first period.
Back-to-back scores from the Dolphins sliced the Irish lead to five (8-3) by the midway point of the second quarter. Notre Dame’s response this time was a 4-0 run to end the half. The surge started on a Kyle Runyon tally and a John Scioscia goal was sandwiched between two man-up deposits from freshman midfielder Sergio Perkovic. Notre Dame was 3-for-3 in man-up chances on the night.
“We were moving the ball and hitting guys who were open,” Kavanagh said. “A couple of my assists were easy because they were step-downs for Sergio (Perkovic) on the man-up. We just stuck to the game plan.
“It was good to come down here and play outside since we’ve been practicing indoors for the past couple of months. This a great venue and I’m glad we started out hot and got the win.”
Jacksonville scored first in the second half, but Notre Dame answered with four more unanswered goals to register a 16-4 lead by the end of the third quarter. The first two scores of the run came from Doyle, while Trevor Brosco and Kavanagh put home the final two. It was the first career goal for Brosco, a sophomore midfielder.
Notre Dame received fourth-quarter goals from Pat Cotter, freshman midfielder Robert Collins and Lubowicki. Cotter, a graduate student midfielder, missed all of last season with an injury.
Junior goalie Conor Kelly made his first career start for the Irish and made four saves, while allowing four goals in 45 minutes between the pipes. Freshman Shane Doss played the final quarter and made one save and surrendered three goals. DeLuca made 14 stops for Jacksonville.
The Fighting Irish held a commanding 56-18 advantage in shots along with scooping up 26 more ground balls than the Dolphins (48-22). Notre Dame owned the faceoff X, winning 23 of the 30 attempts. O’Connor was 19-of-25, while Ossello was 3-of-3 and freshman P.J. Finley was 1-of-2.
Notre Dame opens the home portion of its 2014 slate on Saturday against No. 7 Penn State. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.