Detroit 7, Notre Dame 9

So, I wrote this Sunday morning…. but haven’t had access to the internet until now. Act like it’s prompt still.

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so the Titans’ closer-than-expected loss to Notre Dame… well, it doesn’t count. Ain’t no moral victories in the NCAA Tournament. But yeah, this is as close as it gets.

Tempo Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

Notre Dame 2013
Detroit Notre Dame
Faceoff Wins 10 Faceoff Wins 9
Clearing 17-23 Clearing 18-18
Possessions 33 Possessions 33
Goals 7 Goals 9
Offensive Efficiency .212 Offensive Efficiency .273

Statistically, this was about as even as a two-goal loss can be. The sides were dead even on possessions, and capitalizing on just a couple more of them was what gave the Irish victory.

Notes

About that, though… Detroit dominated the game through a half, and even through three quarters. The Titans had a 25-19 possession advantage – and a 7-3 lead on the scoreboard – at the end of the third. Notre Dame #turntup in the fourth to get the win. A six-goal run to end the game saved the No. 2 seed from total embarrassment.

About that run… I complained about the officiating on twitter after the game (and throughout the fourth, if we’re being serious here), and thought I would come back and regret it later. After sleeping on it… nope. Titans got the screwjob. I don’t think there was some directive from the NCAA office to make sure its (comically over-seeded) No. 2 went through, but the reputation as a national power certainly gave the Irish the enormous benefit of the doubt once the Titans had built a huge lead. I was watching the game with a referee, and while he was certainly a Detroit partisan, it’s also easy to view things through unbiased eyes when you come from an officiating background. He was dumbfounded at a lot of the calls (and rightfully so, from the perspective of my less-trained eye). I haven’t re-watched the contest yet, but the uncalled loose ball pushes and playing without equipment – literally the easiest call it’s possible to make – were a big part of Notre Dame’s sudden ability to dominated ground balls after the break. When one official has to spend more time explaining to UDM’s Matt Holtz that the bad calls aren’t his fault, because he has to let the other members of his crew do their jobs, too… that says it all.

Aside from that, however, a lot of the damage for the Titans in the fourth was self-inflicted. Notre Dame went to a heavy ride, and sure they got the benefit of the doubt on a lot of the ground game, but there’s no need to dodge into a double-team on the clear. Somebody is open in that situation. 2/7 in the fourth – with at least two of the fails the result of easy-to-avoid mental errors – is not how you close out a game.

In the end, Detroit played like a team that’s never been there… because the Titans had never been there. The program took huge strides by making it to the NCAA Tournament and taking Notre Dame to the brink. Now is the time to capitalize upon that going forward.

The top performer all game long was Jordan Houtby. He caused three turnovers and picked up nine ground balls against a very good Notre Dame team, and was everything we’ve come to expect and more. He ends his Titan career with a loss, but it’s certainly not on his shoulders (despite being responsible for one of those avoidable failed clears that led to a quick Irish goal).

A.J. Levell was streaky, but mostly in a good way until the fourth. He turned his game up at the end of the regular season, through the MAAC Championships, and into the Notre Dame game. He was absolutely robbing the Irish through three quarters. Even in the fourth when ND made their run, he wasn’t giving up soft goals – he just didn’t make the spectacular saves that his team was going to need to get the win.

Offensively, there was a lot to like in this one, and especially a lot to like going forward. Alex Maini had two goals and two assists, Brandon Beauregard had three goals, and Mike Birney had a goal and an assist. Birney’s goal especially – from the top of the box when Notre Dame’s defense was daring him to shoot – was impressive, and that’s kid’s just a sophomore.

Andy Hebden was held scoreless on just two shots, but certainly didn’t look like a freshman out there. The experience of going against a tough Notre Dame defense will help him grow going forward. His brother Jamie ends his UDM career with a 2CT 2GB performance.

Damien Hicks was unbelievable through three quarters. He lost nine facoffs all game, and six of those came in the fourth quarter. He had clean wins, good clamps, and everything you want from a faceoff specialist except a bit of instant offense (and he had an opportunity or two, but the gameplan dictated slowing it down). The ground ball game was what killed him in the fourth, and that’s obviously not all his fault.

For a Titan team that lost its best offensive player early in the season and one of its best defensive players about halfway through, the progress they showed was excellent. I questioned the coaching (particularly offensively) early in the year, but it’s clear that UDM just needed time to get comfortable in the system – this wasn’t last year’s dysfunctional unit. Going forward and adding weaponry (such as Shayne Adams’ return) will allow for a much-improved team next year. The defense will take a step back after losing a bunch of excellent talent, so it’ll be a very different team stylistically than the 2012 Titans.

Up Next

The season is over, but there’s a lot to look forward to if the Titans can capitalize on a bit of momentum.

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3 Responses to Detroit 7, Notre Dame 9

  1. DCLaxFan says:

    Tim: I respectfully disagree. The Titans’ close lost does count for something. While certainly ND played the first 3 quarters like they were on valium, UD still outplayed the Irish for 45 minutes. To lose by only two goals to the # 2 seed (even if that was 3 seeds too high) on their home field in your first playoff game speaks volumes to the strides that UD has made this year. As a UM Homer, I don’t need to build up UD, but as a lax fan I have to applaud their effort.

  2. AndyD says:

    I think there are two ways to look at it.

    One way is as a moral victory. Almost beat #2 seed on their home turf as an unseeded team with a losing record from the weakest (arguably) conference that many people think shouldn’t even be in the tournament. Detroit earned some respect nationally and so did the MAAC probably. Great showcase opportunity for both, and the Titans took advantage of that.

    The other way, and I really hope Detroit is looking at it this way, is they lost a big lead in a game they were dominating. This should create a hunger, not a sense of satisfaction. They should be upset and take some lessons from it.

    The positive attention won’t be long-lived unless the Titans and/or their MAAC brethren follow up with continued improvement and hopefully a tournament win next year, but for now it’s welcome and well-deserved. This was a team that had not won a non-conference game, let’s remember. This is a conference that has never won a tournament game. That’s the national impression going in to the game. Upsets happen. Near upsets happen even more often. Cinderella creates a media darling and a chance to build. Once the glow is off of this near upset, the next step has to be building from it. Can it create a recruiting edge? Can the team learn to finish better?

    Celebrate a team that overcame injuries to win three straight elimination games (last three MAAC games) and almost pulled the biggest tournament upset ever. Don’t celebrate a loss.

  3. Sir Laxalot says:

    Kudos to Detroit’s staff for having a plan and executing it…It was a great game, and Detroit can get mad at officiating, but I think they expected that ND would get the calls on their home turf…Jordan Houtby was easily the best player on the field for both teams and it was great for him to finally get the exposure and plaudits for his efforts… He will be impossible to replace… Yes, Maini and Houtby, Masterson, and Callaghan are from NY and Canada respectively, but the GIANT winner here was The State of Michigan and the homegrown boys from the Mitten who brought it out there last Saturday…It showed our boys can play with anyone…Michigan will be there soon, but Detroit will now have that confidence when they take the field… I’ve seen it over the years, Close against Georgetown, and early success against Delaware and Navy etc… but could not finish… maybe now…Titans will have Ohio State visit Titan Field next year… Those games like that and big road games, plus dominating the MAAC have to be priority one…It’s on the players now to work hard in the off season to develop their skills and not to be satisfied…Titan Lacrosse is on the map, and it needs to stay there…

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