Whether it is before a preseason game or after the contest has finished we can remind ourselves that it is only a scrimmage. We don’t know if the coaches are experimenting. We may not know who is being held back for health reasons or in the case of Saturday’s tilt where the Jacksonville University Dolphins took on Notre Dame, if the fact that Notre Dame played earlier in the day against Team USA played a significant factor in the result. It is easy before and after games to calmly assess the situation but while the athletes are competing, we spectators are all in. We cheer every great play. We shutter every time our team gets flagged for an ill advised penalty (too many on Saturday). We celebrate every small victory along the way and we suffer a little bit every time things don’t go our way. We are fans, that is what we are supposed to do. Unless and until we talk to the Jacksonville University coaching staff, we won’t really know how they evaluated Saturday’s match-up. With all of that being said, what a thrilling game it was.
Tanner Gard leads Jacksonville's defense against the Fighting Irish
The final result had Jacksonville on top by a score of 9-8. How we got to that point was every bit of a rollercoaster ride fitting of our theme park setting at Disney’s truly amazing Wide World of Sports complex. Before we jump into the recap let’s go back a bit. For me and my spotter, co-pilot and co-analyst Jim Applegate, it was a long and exciting day. We headed toward the happiest place on earth bright and early in order to catch the Notre Dame vs Team USA game that started at 10 am. We positioned ourselves on the sideline right near the Notre Dame bench. While watching a great game we were fortunate enough to be joined by Division I referee and fellow Cortland Red Dragon Tony Williams who we quizzed about the new rules. To be honest with you, I did not watch the game as to analyze the teams, evaluate the rules or scout Notre Dame. I wanted to watch the action and enjoy the scenery. Tony did a great job explaining a few nuances of the rules and I did notice the focus on the quick restarts which I really enjoy.
Following the game we caught a bit of Team England vs Northwestern women's game, a well attended youth clinic put on by the members of Team USA and had a chance to chat with Jacksonville Navy man, USNA alumnus and current Team USA member Graham Gill. He was excited about the level of commitment and focus by the team and the style of the new coaching staff.
Dolphin playmaker TJ Kenary
On to the game. I don’t think it was just me that had a bit of an “Oh no!” moment when Notre Dame scored and scored again and didn’t slow down until they had a 5-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. As a player I would always have a moment of panic when a team would have a string of goals and I would start to do the math. For me it would be something like; if I don’t get my act together and start making saves, these guys are on a pace for 20. I once gave up 4 goals in four minutes in mop up duty when my team was getting blown out by Syracuse. My teammates teased me that if I played the entire game, the Orangemen would have scored 60. If any of the Dolphins had a similar moment of panic, they didn’t show it and they quickly got over it. The truth is that had it not been for a number of terrific saves by goalie Peter DeLuca, it could have been even worse.
Goalie Peter DeLuca and JU's never say die defense can keep the Dolphins in every game.
The momentum swung back JU’s way early in the second quarter and it was apparent even before Rob Wertz found the back of the net to end the Dolphins drought that the midfield line of Wertz, Dan Jones and Quint Miller were ready to play. Where in the first quarter the Dolphins were trying to get their sea legs, the second quarter saw JU dictate the pace of play and start to control possession. Shortly after the Wertz tally, TJ Kenary squeezed a perfect pass through traffic to find Cam Mann who put it past the Notre Dame goalie to close the margin to 5-2. Following a Notre Dame extra man goal, freshman middie Dakota Rohlin had a drive and shot that had me, Jim and most of the crowd looking at each other as to say “did you just see that?” It was a run down the right alley at full speed with his angle diminishing that he rifled past the helpless Notre Dame goalie. A perfectly placed right handed rocket that lifted the excitement level and the confidence of the Dolphins.
Dakota Rohlin with a Big-Time shot to keep JU in the game vs Notre Dame
But JU still trailed 6-3 with 7:30 remaining in the first half. It was Peter DeLuca who then turned a few heads with 5 dazzling saves in the span of only a few minutes including three when JU was two men down due to multiple penalties. With just under three and a half minutes to go in the first half, sophomore defenseman Austin Curtis (Marcy, NY) blocked a shot, raced to clear the ball and dished it off to Kyle Rebman (Baldwin, NY) who fired a left-handed cannon into the Notre Dame goal. The half ended with the score 6-4, Notre Dame on top.
The second half began with a much slower and deliberate tempo for both teams. Goalie Brendan Niklason kept a lid on the Jacksonville goal while the lone score of the third quarter belonged to Chase Miller (Lancaster, PA). Notre Dame led 6-5 to start the final quarter.
Notre Dame ended their 15 plus minute scoring drought to open up the fourth with a low shot between the legs of new Dolphin net-minder, Bass Barfield.
Following a Barfield save, Martin Winter performed a nifty dodge and finish in an extra man opportunity to answer back for JU but the Dolphins still trailed 7-6. Notre Dame answered right back and the Dolphins fell back behind by two. Following the goal there was a dead ball penalty against the Dolphins. Not the type of penalty teams can afford in a close game. Barfield and JU managed to kill the penalty and following a wild exchange and some physical play by both teams, JU had their chance to go two men up as a result of double penalties against Notre Dame. Senior Cam Mann quickly scored cutting the deficit back down to one with a score of 8-7. With 6:13 to go in regulation, sophomore Quint Miller knotted the game up at 8-8. Not since early in the match had the score been level.
Senior Cam Mann led the Dolphins with two goals on the day.
The final 6 minutes would have those in attendance and those following along at home on the edge of their seats. Less than two and a half minutes later, senior Culver Bradbury demonstrate the physical play he is known for by powering through intense pressure and launching a shot while lunging toward the goal that put the Dolphins on top for the very first time with 3:58 remaining.
So this was a meaningless preseason scrimmage you say? Don’t tell that two anybody who watched these two heavy weights battle it out down the stretch. During my interview this past week with Coach Jacob Baxter (see here), the first name he mentioned when I asked him about freshmen that had impressed him throughout the fall and early spring was freshman goalie Bass Barfield. Down the wire I found out why. Barfield turned back numerous chances, cleaned up loose ball around the crease and cleared the ball like a veteran. At the risk of leaving people off, Ben Carter, Will Crenshaw, Joey Pfister, Charlie Archer and Sam Haus stood out in the fourth quarter on the defensive half of the field. Haus was particulary critical with his numerous late game clears.
As the clock ticked down and Notre Dame possessed the ball, Carter and company continued to press out and pressure the Notre Dame offense. The Dolphins challenged, scrambled, swarmed and battled. With just seconds remaining on the clock a Notre dame player caught a pass and stepped past a falling JU defender to launch a open and makeable 10 yard shot toward Barfield. His attempt to tie the game sailed wide and an exuberant Dolphin team celebrated their hard earned victory. I cannot imagine another preseason game with this much drama. Maybe it was the picturesque setting, the pedigree of an opponent like Notre Dame or the never say die attitude of JU, this was a thriller.
Jacksonville tops Notre Dame 9-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports
Well there is a recap of the game and here are a few of my observations:
JU fell behind early due to defensive letdowns, ill advised penalties, trouble clearing and the inability to maintain possession. In terms of the defense I will remind you of what I mentioned earlier. I was not privy to the game-plan nor am I aware of any experiments or tests that JU may have toying with. I did see that JU was sliding very early. These long slides made the Dolphins vulnerable to quick ball movement and the Notre Dame offense repeatedly made them pay.
I went into the game looking to see if any freshmen stood out. There was a buzz about Chase Miller and Dakota Rohlin. I can now see why.
The philosophy of the Dolphin defense is to put pressure on their opponents and make them uncomfortable. I like it and I think that JU has the depth and talent along with the goalie to make this style work.
Peter DeLuca plays like a veteran. He made all of the saves he should and a few that he shouldn’t. That is my test for any goalie and he passed once again. In addition to great ball stopping Peter show poise and precision in the clearing game.
Coach Baxter mentioned the goal of no more than two goals per quarter as a target and despite the early onslaught, mission accomplished.
JU is talented, athletic and they appear to be 60 minute competitors. Those three components will make them dangerous to their opponents and exciting to watch for their fans.
I didn't notice too significant of an impact of the new rules. Quicker starts, a few different possession rulings and a few other minor items of little consequence. More on the rules later.
Greetings from the happiest place on earth, and maybe the warmest. Anybody out there?
JU out warming up as is Notre Dame.
I will try to post a few pics on Facebook as I am able.
Comment From Oliver Family in Toronto!
Hello from snowy Toronto!
The JU families are filing in. I predict a halftime score of JU 5 ND 3. I don't think I am a myopic homer with rosé colored glasses but I expect a great year for JU. Out of conference wins, at least 4 wins in the MAAC, 4 20 plus goal scorers. I don't want to give all of my insight away today.
I did watch ND v USA. I was socializing and didn't focus on the rules or the game other than as a fan. My wisdom is that both teams are good. More... Ok JU's first line is as good as ND, can we keep up with top teams four 4 Q??
Comment From JerryWinter
Freshman Kavanagh had 4 of ND's 7 and 4 or 5 of their goals were EMO. Interesting.
#50 kavanagh for nd clearly stood out
I expect the same as last year, starters w 2nd middies in1st half, mix it up in the 2nd. We shall see.
JU possession, Mann gb
Trentini, Winter, Kenary at Attack
Spindler in a close D with Gard and Curtis. ND middie scores in settled O
Goldman, Bradbury, Chase Miller on w 2nd middies
JU rides well failure to advance Nd gets ball back, crease violation
Mann now in at Attack, started there on opening FO
Great save by DeLuca, lots of flags, JU down for 2 min Spindler, slash, roughness
EMO goal, ND Penalties release
Great take away by archer
Notre Dame Has controlled the entire game so far
Time and space goal for Notre Dame three to nothing
JU is on their heels
JU has possession on a violation from Notre Dame
ND scores again, 4-0 5:13. JU Sliding early but getting there late. ND Is moving the ball faster than Jacksonville can make the slide
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Back to the action I think JU needs to not slide is early and play good one-on-one defense
Vogt violation on FO, ND ball
A great save by Peter Deluca
Nice clear by Curtis
Igoe, Rohlin, Mann on 1st middie
Ju unforced error sloppy passing
Middie for Ju gets beat, ND scores, ugh
Another save by DeLuca Ju clears time expires. 5-0 after one.
Comment From Jimmie
Has ju hada shot on goal yet?
JU has had one shot on goal from a poor angle that hit the goalie in the chest
Spindler gard and Curtis on defense, McNulty on the face-off JUpossession
Wertz, jones, Quint miller in, Wertz scores
JU showing a bit more fire, nice FO win.
Waffle, winter and Kenary in @ A
Cam from Kenary, we will hear that a lot this year. 2-5
This middie line is working well, Q Miller, Wertz and Jones, nice possession
Spindler to the penalty box after JU turnover
Kavanagh scores an EMO goal for ND, after a bunch this morning
Haus, McCredie great D, Haus takeaway, JU turnover
At least 4 failed clears for JU
Curtis eats up a shot, JU ball
Rohlin with a big time shot on the run, top right corner on the fly. 3-6 7:30 in half
McNulty, FO win, Crenshaw and Black on wing, JU ball
Notre Dame Possession off of a goalie save
DeLuca with an acrobatic save from in tight
Flag down against Jacksonville daluca comes up with a big save Notre Dame on man up
Nice penalty kill for Jacksonville
Spindler penalty, moments later Foster penalty- oof
Daluca is on fire, kills both penalties, two more saves
JU kills both penalties with a big save by DeLuca Notre Dame ball, another save by Daluca
Curtis picks off pass, end to end Rebman rips a shot, 4-6 PETER D keeping them in it , 3:11 in half
End of the half, be back soon
Back to the action that was quick break
Pfister, take away, Curtis GB, JU ball
Niklason in goal,
Winter, Waffle, Mann down low
Penalty killed, take away ND ball
Winter, Rebman at attack
Chase Miller sticks a goal 5-6 8:42 in 3rd
Archer and Pfister in a close defense
Save Niklasson Notre Dame ball
Ricker w a take away, JU BALL
Carter in at middie d, Kensil in at A
Both teams have slowed it down JU still sliding very early
Kensil nice grab on the crease, ND goalie makes a huge save
Haus with another clear, JU on O
6-5 after three, is anybody out there?
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Vogt taking the draw
Archer, Pfister, Spindler on D, Barfield in goal
I would love to be giving you play-by-play but I am not allowed sorry, The game is not on the radio or television I am all you have, I am now cold it has dropped below 70
ND scores from 11 yards out, five hole 5-7
Comment From Joe Deluca
Thanks again. Fingers holding up?
It's hard to type in my mittens
Nice saved by Barfield, JU GOING EMO
Winter with a EMO goal on a nifty dodge 6-7
Cannon in on D, SAVE BY BARFIELD
NOTRE DAME SCORES FLAG DOWN ON JU AFTER THE goal
ND wins the face, EMO
Wild exchange resulting in JU being two men up.
JU goal, 7-8, Cam Mann
Skudneski in at A
Q Miller scores to tie it up!
6:13 to go 49 facing, not in program
Cannon, Foster, bellanza in on D
Barfield comes up huge in goal, ND people are shaking their heads
Bradbury with a lunging shot, scores a beauty. 9-8 JU 3:58
Bannister, Carter, Twedt in on M defense
I am shocked at how early and far out JU is sliding
Barfield with back to back stunning saves
JU throws it away, ND ball under 2
Coach Baxter was right about Barfield. Did you see the interview? Noisy I know
TO Notre dame ball 1:17, 9-8 JU.. Will my battery last? Just kidding I am all set