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Taylor, No. 2 Irish Dominate Visiting Michigan Wolverines

Written by Peter Jay Mulroy  Contributor  Instagram: @sportstodaywithpeterjay

Photo by The Irish Tribune


Coming off a physical victory over Ohio State last weekend in Columbus, the Fighting Irish hosted No. 18 Michigan on a crisp March afternoon in South Bend, as the nation’s number two-ranked squad played its final Big Ten contest before jumping into conference play.

 

With a packed house on hand at Arlotta Stadium for “Irish Wear Green” day, Notre Dame imposed its will for most of the game, spearheaded by the play of the always-dangerous Jake Taylor.

 

Notre Dame broke open the scoring in the first quarter when Devon McLane -- who remains an enormous piece to what very well might be the best midfield unit in the country -- stuffed home his 11th goal of the season to put the Irish on top. Not to be outdone, however, the Wolverines -- who dropped an 18-8 decision to the Irish last season in Ann Arbor -- fired back with two goals less than 1:30 apart to grab their first lead.


Ryan Cohen’s tally with 6:34 to go in the opening frame knotted the score at 1-1, but when Justin Tiernan -- the nation’s leading scorer in goals per game (4.0) -- slipped one past Irish keeper Liam Entenmann with just over five minutes to go in the quarter, the Wolverines were out in front on the road. Irish responses by midfielder Jordan Faison (11th of the season) and Pat Kavanagh (sixth) would give ND the lead with three minutes left in the quarter, but Michael Boem’s 18th of the year evened the high-scoring opening frame at 3-3, which is how the first 15 minutes of play would end.


The Irish, 5-1 all-time against the Wolverines entering the matchup, came out firing in the second quarter as they put to bed any hopes of Michigan stealing a victory on the road.

 

McLane’s second of the afternoon put the Irish ahead 4-3, and ensuing goals by Max Busenkell (fourth of the season) and Eric Dobson (sixth) gave the Irish some padding with just over nine minutes remaining before the break. In another showcase of how dominant the unit is as a whole, five of Notre Dame's first six goals came via their midfield group.

 

In all, the second quarter was a collective display of teamwork and selflessness. Controlling the flow of the game with a 6-3 lead, the Irish would get back to work with 7:41 to go.

 

A beautiful assist from Dobson helped Jake Taylor record his 16th score of the season, while crisp ball movement between Pat Kavanagh and Faison pushed ND's lead to 8-3 once Faison banged home his second of the day. The Irish scored seven of the eight goals in the second period en route to taking a 10-4 lead into the locker room.



It was more of the same in the second half. It was also the time the brilliance of Taylor was on full display. The Denver native poured in four straight goals in the third quarter to widen Notre Dame’s lead, as the Wolverines simply had no answer for the graduate student, particularly deep in the offensive zone.

 

Taylor, who set a Notre Dame single-game record for goals with eight during his junior campaign in a win over Syracuse, racked up seven goals in total on the day, upping his total to 22 for the season, as the Irish dominated the Wolverines over the course of the final three quarters.


Net-minder Liam Entenmann was a rock between the pipes once again, registering 14 saves on the day and protecting the Irish on the backend throughout the game.

 

With the 19-9 triumph, No. 2 Notre Dame improved to 5-1 on the season and 6-1 all-time against Michigan.


What’s Next for the Irish?

 

Notre Dame will begin conference play with an ACC tilt against No. 6 Syracuse on March 30 at Arlotta Stadium followed by an April 7 date with No. 4 Duke in Durham, North Carolina.

 

The game against the Blue Devils will be a rematch of last season’s National Championship contest, which the Irish won, 13-9 to capture the program’s first title.


           

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