Feb. 8, 2018
By: Robby Hamman
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The lacrosse season opener is just three days away, as the Irish will take the field at Loftus Sports Center at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11, for the first game of the 2018 season against Detroit. The Notre Dame defense has the most question marks of any position group entering the 2018 season, but the Irish consistently have one of the top back lines in the country year-after-year.
After graduating two starting defensemen and a four-year starter at goalkeeper, Notre Dame will have a lot of fresh faces see expanded roles or make their collegiate debuts this season. The one returning starter to the unit is junior Hugh Crance.
The Newport Beach, California, native has embraced the role in bringing everyone else up to speed this preseason.
“Hugh is the one who is helping the guys understand what it is we do, how we do it and how important the little things are,” Baumer Family Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Kevin Corrigan said. “Having Hugh help them understand the importance of communication and fundamentals is important.”
Sophomore Jack Kielty is poised to have a much larger role as a defenseman this season. Kielty accrued 14 games of playing time in his freshman season, scoring a goal, causing five turnovers and scooping up 18 ground balls.
“He is an athletic kid,” said Corrigan. “What he really needs to do is add discipline to his game to take advantage of his athleticism and he is working at that. We may still use him up top sometimes if Charlie [Trense] is playing well enough. That would give us the ability to play Jack behind [John] Sexton. We will see how that all plays out.”
The aforementioned Trense appears destined to see much more playing time in his junior campaign. An applied and computational mathematics and statistics major in Mendoza College of Business, Trense is one of the smartest players on the Notre Dame roster. The defenseman has had a collegiate career riddled with injuries but has impressed early in preseason camp.
“Charlie Trense is coming off knee surgery from last year but has made huge improvements over the last year and is really getting better,” Corrigan said.
The Irish defense is bolstered by an exceptional incoming freshman class. The standout of the crop is Arden Cohen, the top-ranked defenseman in the class by Inside Lacrosse. Cohen will likely be thrown into the fire from the first game of the season and Corrigan is confident in his ability to succeed right away.
“Arden Cohen is a terrific young guy,” Corrigan said. “It’s tough taking on a large role as a freshman to begin the season unless you are a guy with a lot of discipline, strong fundamentals, very good skills and a quick learner. Arden has all of those things. He has been very impressive getting up to speed with the way we do things. He is going to still make mistakes but he learns very quickly.”
PLAYER HIGHLIGHT: HUGH CRANCE
As stated above, Crance will be expected to step up and lead the defensive unit this season. The defenseman has appeared in every game since he stepped foot on campus as a freshman and started all 15 games last season.
Corrigan is high on Crance and likes that he can depend on him in a position that will have a lot of youth.
“He leads by example,” Corrigan said. “He has done a nice job. He has been very consistent throughout the preseason and that is exactly what we need from him with an inexperienced group around him.”
POSITION BATTLE: GOALKEEPER
For the first time in nearly four seasons, the Irish will have a new face between the pipes in goal. With Shane Doss graduating after last year the team will look to senior Owen Molloy or freshman Matt Schmidt to take over the job.
Molloy saw limited action in his junior season, accumulating over 42 minutes of game action in 2017. The senior has excelled in the buildup to the 2018 opener.
“Owen has come in and had the most consistent fall and preseason that he has had since he’s been here,” Corrigan said. “That has been something we have been looking for from him. He also gives us a poise and maturity that is nice to have in the goal.”
Schmidt came to Notre Dame as a highly decorated prep player ready to play from day one. The freshman was the third rated goalie in the freshman class according to Inside Lacrosse.
“Schmidt just stops the ball,” Corrigan said. “He does a great job of stopping the ball. He is another kid like Arden [Cohen] who learns very quickly. The clearing game is much more complicated at the collegiate level compared to the high school level. The fact that everyone is faster and more athletic makes it more difficult. Having the poise and learning from the mistakes you do make will make us consistent.”
NUMBER TO KNOW: 13
The Irish have had at least one defensemen selected as a USILA All-American (either first team, second team or honorable mention) in each of the last 13 seasons. Former Notre Dame standout Garrett Epple kept the streak award last season, earning first team status.
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