By James Boyle
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/20/12
With the help of some local talent, Notre Dame came to PPL Stadium on Sunday and defeated the University of Virginia, 12-10 to advance to the NCAA men’s lacrosse semifinals.
Westy Hopkins, a native of Newtown, PA who played high school lacrosse for La Salle College High School and then a year at Lawrenceville School, scored his 16th goal of the season and Notre Dame’s third of the game.
“It was nice to score, but I personally feel like I didn’t play my best today,” said Hopkins. “I didn’t play my best, but I played hard and we played hard as a team, and we did what we had to do to win.”
Sunday’s games were the first lacrosse games ever played at PPL Park. With the win, Notre Dame will face Loyola in the semifinals of the tournament on May 26 in Foxborough, Mass.
“It’s amazing,” said Hopkins. “You kind of dream about that growing up, even just in high school. It was only a couple years ago, but it seems like so long ago right now. It’s just awesome coming home. We traveled a lot of places and there’s no place better to play than Philly.”
Sunday’s win over Virginia was Notre Dame’s fourth trip to the Philadelphia area this season. Their first trip to Philadelphia came on March 3 when the Irish defeated Drexel, 6-5. Then, Notre Dame traveled to Villanova twice in less than a month.
The Irish beat Villanova, 10-7, on April 21. They returned two weeks later to take on St. John’s in the Big East Tournament, but were upset by a score of 8-7.
“After you’ve been on a long game-wining streak, one loss kind of reminds you what it feels like to lose and none of us on this team like to lose,” said Hopkins of the loss to St. John’s. “We hate losing. That obviously reminded us what it felt like and we used that to kind of fuel the fire.”
Irish Defenseman Stephen O’Hara helped hold things down defensively against the talented offense of Virginia. O’Hara played his high school lacrosse at St. Joseph’s Prep and hails from West Chester.
“This was the fourth time we’ve come back to Philadelphia, so I think it was a good opportunity to see some friends and family,” said O’Hara. “I’m not complaining. [Philadelphia] has great food.
“It gives me a chance to get a cheesesteak and some soft pretzels, so I’m not complaining about that.”
One of O’Hara’ ground-ball pickups led to Notre Dame’s 10th goal of the game, a key part of the Fighting Irish’s 4-0 run that helped them build a 12-8 lead in the fourth period.
“The seniors and juniors have been to Championship weekend before,” said O’Hara. “And I think it’s good for me and some of the underclassmen to get there.”