March 22, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Notre Dame Plays On Despite Lost Weekend

by Michael Eisenstein/CHN Reporter

DETROIT — After Notre Dame lost a 2-1 heartbreaker Friday to Miami, its focus immediately turned to the third-place consolation game. Beating Northern Michigan the next day would essentially guarantee the on-the-bubble Fighting Irish a spot in the NCAA tournament.

So after the game, all Notre Dame senior center Mark Van Guilder discussed was recovering from the loss, refocusing and redeeming the team's tournament chances.

"Well, we've got to get over (the loss) — we can't just sit around and pout about it," Van Guilder said. "We're really sitting on the bubble (for the NCAA tournament), our season is going to continue or it's going to be over. It's do or die now."

But after the Fighting Irish fell to the Wildcats 2-1 today, Notre Dame seemed to miss the memo.

"It was your typical consolation game — not much emotion," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said.

Should you need reminding, the Fighting Irish had an NCAA tournament berth on the line.

Who knows if Jeff Jackson was being coy or not. He strikes you as quite the savvy coach, so he may have been well aware what his team's NCAA hopes were.

Then again, it turns out, thanks to the machinations of the Pairwise, that a loss was fine for Notre Dame too. So maybe Jackson knew just what he was doing in not taking it too seriously.

"Why we play these games, I'm not quite sure," Jackson added. "They tell me it's for an advantage, but I'm not sure. We didn't have same emotion and intensity as our last three games."

Going into the contest, Pairwise technicalities indicated Notre Dame would be worse off with a tie than a loss in order to get into the tournament. But Jackson wouldn't hear of it. He pulled goalie Jordan Pearce with more than two minutes remaining with the team down by a goal.

"I've been told 15 different things, so I don't believe anything until (I) see (it) on paper," Jackson said. "I heard that if we tied we're out and if we lost we would be in. And I've been told that if we won or lost we would be in at this point — it's all speculation. There are still games to be played tonight that will have a definite impact on what happens next 12 hours."

Though Notre Dame may still earn an NCAA tournament berth, the Fighting Irish's approach to the game seemed a bit dubious with all that was on the line.

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