A South Bend Defensive Stand Off

Mar 14, 2017

BTB Lacrosse coach Jesse Miller

In a game with high powered offenses, this one was a defensive battle from the get-go.

I’ve talked about Maryland’s strong strength of schedule….

Well, Notre Dame’s schedule is even tougher.

These two teams will play anybody.  I love that.

Each team showcases their respective stars, and both teams are loaded with talent. 

For Maryland, there’s Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, Dylan Maltz, and Jared Bernhardt (freshman).

For Notre Dame, there’s Ryder Garnsey, Sergio Perkovic, Garrett Epple, and Bryan Costabile (freshman).

When defenses play well, offenses can get impatient and sloppy.

That was definitely the case with Maryland in this game.  Maryland had 10 turnovers in the first half, while only recording 8 shots.  And the second half didn’t get much better, as a couple key turnovers ultimately squashed their hopes for a W.

Sergio Perkovick is the do-it-all midfielder for Notre Dame.  This kid has been on the map for a long time now, but lately, he’s been in a shooting slump.  He easily could’ve netted three goals in this game, but his shots were just slightly off.

Ryder Garnsey is the real deal.  He’s a sophomore now and last year was named ACC Freshman of the Year. 

His goal to give Notre Dame a 3-2 advantage in the third quarter was ridiculous.  Absolutely no angle… just absurd. 

BTB  Lacrosse Coach Jesse Miller shows Ryder Garnsey's lacrosse shot
This lacrosse shot from Ryder Garnsey of Notre Dame was just absurd

Garrett Epple was an absolute beast all day long.  His task was to guard Rambo, and he held him to zero goals.  That rarely happens. 

Epple is already off to a blazing senior year.  He’s been named to back-to-back ACC defensive player of the week honors.

He hails from Calvert Hall in Maryland. (We scrimmaged them last week actually.)  He’s been a full-time starter since midway through his freshman year. 

He went for a couple home run checks in this game.  The gambles paid off and helped contribute to his 4 caused turnovers for the day (he also had 6 goundballs.)  Not a bad day at the office…

Lacrosse defenses are organized to allow for anticipated help.  This “help lacrosse defense” is what lacrosse sliding is all about.

The important thing about slides is that you want to them to occur in a predictable manner. 

Cuz once a slide happens, someone needs to slide in tandem to replace the guy who the original slide guy left.  Every defensive player involved in slides moves together.

For predictable slides to happen, the on-ball defender needs to funnel the ball carrier in a certain direction - especially when he gets beat.  When the ball carrier dodges from above the cage, defenders often want to funnel him down the alleys.  If the ball carrier gets top-side and crosses that imaginary midfield split line, then defensive slide packages get all messed up.

BTB Lacrosse coach Jesse Miller explains lacrosse sliding and lacrosse defense
Lacrosse team defense works best with predictable slides. On-ball defenders need to funnel offensive players down the lacrosse alleys.

Ball carriers fight to get top-side.

This is exactly what Notre Dame did for a couple key goals down the stretch.

Once you allow that ball carrier to get topside, the only option for the on-ball defender is the lacrosse trail check.  And if the ball carrier does a good job of protecting his stick, the trail check often fails. 

BTB Lacrosse reviews the lacrosse defensive trail check
When the on-ball defenseman gets beat top-side, all that's left is a gamble, trail check. The defensive slides get messed up and Costabile scores.

Maryland had a couple chances late but couldn’t convert.

Up next for Notre Dame…  Denver, Virginia, Ohio State, Syracuse, Duke, Marquette, and North Carolina.

No cupcakes for the Irish.  

That's one helluva schedule...