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Arlotta Stadium at Notre Dame

The Post-Week Tailgate: March 31, 2024

March 31, 2024
Brian Logue
Matt Cashore

I’ll never forget the first time I saw an ice hockey game in person. The sounds struck me first – the solid whack of the puck meeting the stick, the blades on the ice, the banging into the boards and … the fans.

My first game happened to be in the cozy Alfond Sports Arena at the University of Maine and the fans were right on top of the action. The arena was barely a decade old then and had a capacity of just under 4,000, but the hockey games were sold out for the season before the Black Bears even played their first game.

Not only does an atmosphere like that make a better time for the fans at the game, but it’s a better television experience as well.

I say that after watching a pair of games where overflow crowds in lacrosse heightened the viewing experience. Notre Dame listed a crowd of 5,000 at Arlotta Stadium for its 14-12 win over Syracuse, but forget the stadium part of it. The packed hillside made for great scenes and the crowd was notably audible on the broadcast. It was easy to get sucked in.

Earlier in the day, Harvard crammed more than 3,000 people into Jordan Field as the Crimson hosted Virginia. The stands were packed, people ringed the fence lines and both berms behind the goals were crammed with people. Some cool drone footage from the NESN broadcast helped capture the setting.

There are several Division I programs that play in what amounts to cavernous football stadiums, but have options to play in smaller venues on campus. Shouldn’t they at least consider playing a game or two at the smaller venue every season to see what kind of atmosphere they can generate?

There’s a reason that Virginia plays its home games at Klöckner Stadium, one of the best venues in the sport, instead of Scott Stadium, where it once played. Getting 25,000 at The Shoe for Ohio State was great when it played there before the Buckeyes’ spring football game, but the environment at their new, smaller complex is much better than what Ohio Stadium offered for most games.

Sometimes, bigger isn't better.

Aerial view of Harvard's Jordan Field
A drone view from the NESN broadcast of Harvard's home game against Virginia on Saturday at sold-out Jordan Field.

Random Observations

No matter what stage he was playing on, Virginia goalie Matt Nunes had a performance worthy of adulation in the Cavaliers 13-10 comeback win over Harvard. When Virginia was losing to Harvard 10-6 in the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers player of the game was still Nunes. The only reason Virginia was within striking distance was his play in goal – he finished with 16 saves – but he took it to a whole different level when he cleared the ball on his own and ran the length of the field before scoring the go-ahead goal, giving the Cavaliers an 11-10 lead with 4:59 remaining.

Roughly halfway through the Patriot League season, four teams are within a half-game of each other. Boston University leads the pack at 4-1 with Army, Colgate and Navy all at 3-1 following the Mids 10-9 win over Colgate yesterday.

The league owns numerous big-time non-conference wins – the latest being Army’s 13-12 win over North Carolina on Saturday – but this has often been a one-bid league. There may not be a more competitive race for an AQ than the Patriot and whichever team survives that gauntlet will be poised to make a difference in May. Just ask Top 10 teams Penn State, Syracuse and Georgetown – all of whom have suffered losses to a Patriot League team this year.

Johns Hopkins attackman Russell Melendez
Johns Hopkins attackman Russell Melendez
John Strohsacker

Attack of the Jays

Johns Hopkins attack unit of Jacob Angelus, Garrett Degnon and Russell Melendez (pictured) combined for 14 points in the Blue Jays 15-11 win over Michigan. Degnon has scored at least one goal in 40 straight games, Angelus leads the team with 45 points and Melendez had a season-high five points (3g, 2a) against Michigan.

Former lacrosse players are making their mark in March Madness. CBS broadcaster Ian Eagle was giving former Maryland lacrosse commit Michael O’Connell some love for his lacrosse background during N.C. State’s win over Marquette in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship's third round on Friday night.

O’Connell, an All-American in lacrosse at Chaminade (N.Y.), is a graduate student at N.C. State after playing three seasons at Stanford. O’Connell had eight points, two assists and two steals in the 67-58 win over Marquette to send the Wolfpack to the Elite Eight for a matchup against Duke on Sunday evening.

Another hoops player with a little bit of lacrosse pedigree – UConn’s Cam Spencer – is headed to the Final Four. Spencer, the younger brother of former Tewaaraton winner Pat Spencer – was a starter at Baltimore power Boys’ Latin in lacrosse, scoring 67 points his senior year against some of the nation’s toughest competition. Spencer, who has also played college hoops at Loyola and Rutgers, had 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in No. 1 UConn’s blowout win over Illinois on Saturday night.

By the Numbers

7 • Current winning streaks by Georgetown and Penn State, the longest in the nation. Penn State puts its streak on the line tonight in a prime time game on the Big Ten Network against Maryland. Behind them are Saint Joseph’s and Virginia, each with six-game winning streaks.

5 • Consecutive one-goal games for UMass. The Minutemen beat Hobart 13-12 to snap a string of three-straight one-goal losses. UMass has played six one-goal games this season.

Loyola's Mustang Sally and Chase Gregory hound Lehigh's Grant Rodny
Loyola's Mustang Sally and Chase Gregory hound Lehigh's Grant Rodny
John Strohsacker

Hounding the Hawks

24 • Season-high turnovers committed by Lehigh in a 12-10 loss at Loyola on Friday night. The Mountain Hawks are averaging 17.9 per game and have topped 20 four times in nine games.

10 • Games, in 10 tries, that Penn goalie Emmet Carroll has made double-digit saves. Carroll matched his season-best total of 17 saves in an 11-10 double overtime win against Cornell, the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense coming into the game. The effort moved Carroll past Quinnipiac’s Mason Oak to No. 1 in the NCAA in save percentage with a 60.4 percent rate.

4 • Games in which Rutgers has been held to single digits this year. The Scarlet Knights are 0-4 in those games, including Saturday’s 14-8 loss to Ohio State, and 6-0 in the games when they hit double digits.

3 • Regular season games remaining for Syracuse and we haven’t hit April yet. The Orange have a quick turnaround from their loss to Notre Dame and travel to Cornell on Tuesday. Then they’ll take 11 days off before playing at North Carolina on April 13. Syracuse finishes its home schedule on April 20 against Virginia and then takes 13 days off before the ACC tournament in Charlotte if it is one of the four teams to qualify.

177 • Yale record career goals for Matt Brandau, passing former Tewaaraton winner Ben Reeve’s record of 174.

33 • NCAA Division I men’s games played on Saturday. With just one game on Friday (Loyola over Lehigh) and two on Sunday (Cleveland State at Air Force and Maryland at Penn State), Quint Kessenich astutely pointed out that it was one of busiest days in the sport’s history.