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Notre Dame Takes Down Salisbury

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Notre Dame Takes Down Salisbury

In a tense game the Notre Dame College Falcons defeated the higher-ranked Salisbury University Sharks 18-15 Sunday to make the national Men’s DII College semifinals.
 
Notre Dame (#6) will face Wisconsin-Whitewater in the semifinals at Furman University in two weeks. UW-Whitewater defeated Vermont Sunday.
 
In a hugely physical match, #4 Salisbury led early on 8-3. But it wouldn’t be until very late in the game that the Sharks would get another try. With No. 8 Tom Walsh making all sorts of ground, the Falcons began to work their way back. Walsh continually made Salisbury backpedal, and eventually one of his runs led directly to a try, as he fended off some tacklers and then offloaded to flyhalf Ronan Forrestal for the try.
 
Forrestal has earlier kicked a penalty, but he missed the conversion attempt to leave the game tied at 8-8. 
 
“This was one of the most hard-fought games we’ve had,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Brian MCCue. “We wanted to slow down the game and play extremely strong defense, and e did that. But it was very intense.”
 
A no-wrap tackle by Salisbury led to a penalty attempt for Forrestal, and he was good with the kick to give the Falcons an 11-8 lead. 
 
That’s how it stayed for much of the remainder of the game, as both defenses battled, and both teams used their kicking skills to clear pressure.
 
But eventually something had to give, and it was Walsh doing the taking. The loose forward beat three to race in for the try, and Forrestal’s conversion put Notre Dame up 17-8. Salisbury needed to score twice to win, but couldn’t do it. A late try closed it to 18-15, but Notre Dame, down a player due to a yellow card, held on.
 
Notre Dame flanker Everett Smith was a tenacious tackler and led the Falcon defensive effort. Forrestal’s kicking both from the tee and the hand, was crucial. And Walsh was a beast on attack.
 
But perhaps the biggest factor for Notre Dame was the games they played in August and September. The Falcons scheduled DI teams Wheeling Jesuit, Buffalo, and West Virginia, and lost all three. But they learned a lot.
 
“Those games were very important in preparing us for these types of playoff games,” said McCue. “We learned we can handle this kind of pressure.”