The No. 4 Notre Dame (4-1, 1-0 ACC) Fighting Irish got out to a hot start in cold, rainy Charlottesville, going into halftime 8-2. No. 7 Virginia (5-2, 0-2 ACC) made a game of it late, but their rally fell short and Notre Dame got their first ACC win 11-9.
Here are four observations from the game:
Virginia is just unlucky. Losing All-American Tanner Scales is bad enough. To lose offensive star James Pannell is just a punch in the gut. Pannell, a junior, had 11 goals already this season, and 57 for his career. The Cavaliers are a little deeper on attack than they are on defense, so sliding midfielder Drew Coholan to attack and complementing with Canadian sharpshooter Joe French is not a stretch.
That said, a young and inexperienced team lost an experience player, and that’s never good. Pannell will have to get surgery to repair his ACL and begin the rehabilitation process to return to form next season.
“Obviously, it’s tough to lose a player of that caliber,” senior captain Ryan Tucker said of Pannell after the game. “He’s just such a wonderful component of our team.”
Coholan finished with four goals and French went 0-3 shooting, but provided a spark on attack.
“I felt like team-wide, that’s a little bit of a shock to have to take all that in between worrying about James a little bit and guys really liking him...” Starsia commented postgame, continuing “...having to adjust how we were going to accommodate that on the field, I think that’s significant.”
Notre Dame’s defense is a thing of beauty. The starting three of Edwin Glazener, Matt Landis and Garrett Epple combined for eight groundballs and three caused turnovers. Their slides and communication on help defense gave the Cavaliers fits all afternoon. Longstick midfielder John Sexton caused a turnover and snagged three groundballs of his own.
Goalie Shane Doss, a sophomore out of Glen Ridge, N.J., finished with 10 saves and nine goals allowed, on par with his season average.
Every time Virginia made a run, the Notre Dame defense stepped up to quell the Cavalier momentum. Several stall calls were directly the result of the defense cutting off every lane and option for Virginia and forcing them to settle with outside passes hoping for a weakness.