By Chris Goldberg
Liam O’Connor said he has long dreamed about playing in the Final Four of Division I lacrosse.
Now that dream is reality.
Today at PPL Park in Chester, the sophomore face-off specialist from The Haverford School helped Notre Dame defeat defending national champion Virginia, 12-10, in the NCAA quarterfinals.
“It’s awesome,” he said, “I have dreamt about being in the Final Four since I was a little kid. So this is like a dream come true.
“But we’ve got to make sure we get it to Memorial Day (for the championship) on Monday and finish it off.”
Notre Dame (13-2) advances to face Loyola (Md.) in the semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Saturday, May 26.
Playing before a home crowd, O’Connor won 5 of 12 face-offs and scooped two groundballs. His biggest play came when he won the face-off with just under a minute left after the Cavaliers had scored two quick goals to close a seemingly comfortable margin to 12-10.
“I think it was pretty big,” he said of the key face-off win. “The whole game I was just trying to make it a 50-50 groundball, but I got lucky enough to pick it up and coach (Kevin Corrigan) called timer out before I lost it.
O’Connor said the Fighting Irish has played with the type of intensity needed since they fell to St. John’s in the BIG EAST semifinals two weeks ago at Villanova. In that game, Notre Dame played poorly in the first three quarters before nearly making a comeback in the final period.
After that, O’Connor said the team came together and played its potential in practices and in last week’s 13-7 first-round win over Yale.
“The whole first three quarters of that (St. John’s) game we didn’t play too aggressive on groundballs and they took it to us,” he said. “From that point on coach rallied us and told us to take it to them.
“That’s how we’ve played every game and practice since. That’s been our philosophy.”
O’Connor was pleased that his team was not intimidated by Virginia’s many standouts.
“There was a lot of talk about how athletic they are and people kind of undersell our athleticism and how good we are,” he said. “We just tried to come out from the get go and show them we could compete with the best of the best and make it to championship weekend.”
Tags: Haverford School