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No. 11 Notre Dame Uses Big Rally to Edge No. 2 North Carolina


by Press Release - Photos Bobbie Arlotta

No. 11 Notre Dame Uses Big Rally to Edge No. 2 North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - For the second straight season, Notre Dame staged a furious second half rally to beat North Carolina in men's lacrosse action as the #11 Fighting Irish prevailed 11-10 over the second-ranked Tar Heels at Fetzer Field before a crowd of 2,232 fans.

Carolina twice held leads of five goals in the game at 7-2 midway through the second quarter and at 8-3 a minute into the second half. But Notre Dame responded with a run of five straight goals over a span of seven minutes to even the game at 8-8 with 14:31 left in the game.

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After Jimmy Bitter put the Tar Heels back ahead with an unassisted goal at 13:09 of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame ran off the next three tallies including the eventual game-winner by Sergio Perkovic on a man-up situation with 4:14 left in the game. Notre Dame took advantage of repeated extra-man opportunities in the second half, scoring three man-up goals in the second half and four for the game.

Notre Dame improves to 2-1 on the season with the victory while North Carolina falls to 3-1 in advance of a game next Friday night at Princeton at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Saturday's game was eerily reminiscent of last year's Fighting Irish victory over the Tar Heels when Carolina surrendered a 9-6 fourth quarter lead and eventually lost to the Fighting Irish 10-9 in triple overtime in South Bend. The Fighting Irish won at Fetzer Field for the first time since the 2003 when they triumphed 10-8.

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Notre Dame led in almost all statistical areas, outshooting the Tar Heels 39-29 and winning 17 of 25 face-offs. The Fighting Irish won the ground ball battle 34-31 and scored on 4 of 7 extra-man opportunities. Carolina went 1 for 3 on the man-up.

Both teams committed 15 turnovers. As UNC was trying to get the ball back late in the game to get a chance for a tying goal Carolina forced several turnovers in a row but its clearing game let it down as UNC failed on four clearing chances in the final quarter alone.

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Matt Kavanagh led the Fighting Irish with three goals and two assists on the day while Sergio Perkovic had a pair of goals for Notre Dame. John Scioscia had a goal and an assist for the Fighting Irish.

For Carolina, Jimmy Bitter was the offensive leader with three goals and an assist. Pat Foster had a pair of goals for UNC while Chad Tutton had a goal and an assist for the Heels.

Kieran Burke made 10 saves in the goal for UNC while Shane Doss came off the bench for the Fighting Irish to make 10 saves in 51 minutes of action.

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* * * *

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Joining the nation's strongest men's lacrosse league was going to lead to some memorable games and No. 11 Notre Dame made its first contest in the Atlantic Coast Conference unforgettable with a thrilling 11-10 come-from-behind victory at No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field.

Notre Dame (2-1, 1-0) trailed 8-3 early in the third quarter, yet responded with five unanswered goals to tie the game up less than 30 seconds into the final period. The rally began on a goal from Matt Kavanagh, who had three goals and two assists in the contest. Midfielder Tyler Brenneman sliced the deficit to three (8-5) with his first goal of the season.

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North Carolina (3-1, 0-1) was whistled for three non-releasable penalties at the 1:45 mark of the third quarter and the Fighting Irish played two-men up for one minute and took advantage with goals from midfielders Sergio Perkovic and Jim Marlatt. Kavanagh completed his hat trick to make it 8-8. The sophomore attackman has nine goals and eight assists this season.

Following a Tar Heel score from Jimmy Bitter, Notre Dame attackman Conor Doyle drilled a low-angle shot to make it 9-9 with 11:04 remaining. The Fighting Irish grabbed their first lead of the day (10-9) with just over six minutes left in regulation on a Jack Near goal. Another man-up score from the freshman Perkovic pushed the Irish lead to two with 4:14 left. Bitter put North Carolina back to within one 23 seconds later, but that was the final goal of the game.

“The message at halftime was to stay the course and not panic,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “I didn't feel that we were playing badly, we just weren't finishing our chances.”

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The Tar Heels led 4-0 by the 6:06 mark of the first quarter and Notre Dame starting goalie Conor Kelly was replaced by freshman Shane Doss at that time. Doss played the remainder of the game and made 10 saves. Arguably his biggest stop of the day came around the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter when he negated a point-blank shot from Pat Foster to keep the game tied 9-9.

Midfielder Trevor Brosco put the Irish on the board with 5:30 remaining in the opening period, but the Tar Heels led 5-1 at the end of the quarter. A man-up goal from John Scioscia cut the Tar Heel lead to three (5-2), but consecutive tallies from Foster and Shane Simpson put the hosts up by five. Kavanagh found the back of the net for the first time with just over three minutes left in the first half and the Irish trailed 7-3 at the intermission.

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Notre Dame's Liam O'Connor excelled in the faceoff game, winning 16 of his 23 attempts. The Irish also capitalized on most of their man-up opportunities as they went 4 for 7. The Fighting Irish outshot the Tar Heels 39-29 and North Carolina goalie Kieran Burke made 10 saves.

Notre Dame will step away from ACC action to face No. 5 Denver next Saturday in the Pacific Coast Shootout. The game is slated for noon (PT) at LeBard Stadium on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.

InsideLacrosse.com