May 2, 2014
#19 ARMY (9-4)
#5 NOTRE DAME (8-5)
Saturday, May 3 – Noon (ET)
Arlotta Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It’s a rare occurrence when a team heads into its final regular season game with an NCAA tournament bid already in hand, but that is exactly the case for the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse squad.
The fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (8-5) will play host to No. 19 Army (9-4) at noon (ET) on Saturday knowing full well their name will be mentioned when the brackets are announced Sunday night.
Notre Dame secured its ninth straight NCAA appearance last weekend by capturing the ACC Tournament title with thrilling victories over Maryland (6-5) and Syracuse (15-14). The last thing the Fighting Irish want to do now is lose any momentum gained from winning the toughest league in the land.
“We hope to continue to play at the level that we did last weekend,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We can’t take a step backwards and we shouldn’t take a step backwards. It’s a great opportunity because it’s the last regular season home game for our seniors and we could potentially wrap up a home game for the NCAA tournament. There is a lot at stake.”
Posting a win on Saturday surely won’t be easy as Army leads the nation in goals-against average (6.38) and the Black Knights, the 10th ranked opponent the Irish will have seen this season, have won five of their last six contests. The Fighting Irish proved last weekend they are able to prevail in a slugfest (Maryland) or a shootout (Syracuse). Maybe most importantly, the wins over the Terrapins and Orange showed the Irish can capture the close ones and that very well could come into play Saturday since each of Army’s four setbacks this season have been by a single goal.
“Army is a smart and well-coached team and they play their tails off,” Corrigan said. “They are disciplined and they know who they are. They are used to competing because they’ve been in every minute of every game; all four of their losses have been by just one goal.”
The offensive display against the Orange showed once again how potent the Irish attack can be. It was the fourth time this season Notre Dame eclipsed the 15-goal mark and that has happened twice against top-10 teams (Virginia & Syracuse). Notre Dame is averaging 11.4 goals per game this season, which is on pace to be the highest average for the Irish since they had a 12.1 mark in 2008.
After spreading the wealth with six different players netting all six of their goals against the Terrapins, the Fighting Irish saw four players have a multiple-goal game in the Syracuse tilt. Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh, the ACC Tournament MVP, led the way with four goals and two assists, while Jim Marlatt had three goals and one assist. Conor Doyle posted two goals and three assists and Sergio Perkovic chipped in with a pair of scores.
When the Irish offense is rolling it usually means they are getting major production off of faceoffs and in transition. Nick Ossello, who splits faceoff duties with Liam O’Connor, had a goal and an assist directly after faceoff wins against Syracuse. Short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Near was all over the PPL Park field last weekend. He had two assists, including the one on Kavanagh’s game winner with seven seconds left, in the triumph over Maryland and he scored what proved to be the deciding goal against the Orange.
“Our transition game is one of the best in the country with Jack Near, Tyler Brenneman and Matty Collins leading the rush from the d-midfield position,” Kavanagh said. “They are great with the ball and they are a threat, which makes the defense slide and that gives the attack space. Everyone on the team is contributing and that makes everyone’s job a lot easier.”
The short sticks and close defense were rock solid during key stretches of the ACC Tournament. Notre Dame held Syracuse without a goal for a span of 13:44 during a 6-0 run in the third quarter. The Irish defense forced Maryland into two scoreless droughts over 14 minutes in length and then kept the Terrapins off the scoreboard for the final 9:31 of the semifinal showdown. Defenseman Garrett Epple caused the turnover that started the game-winning sequence against Maryland and goalie Conor Kelly saved Syracuse’s last-second attempt to seal the title.
NOTRE DAME TO CELEBRATE 50 SEASONS OF LACROSSE
The newly crowned ACC champs will have the opportunity on Saturday to compete in front of a large contingent of former Fighting Irish players. This year marks the 50th season of Notre Dame lacrosse and the program is holding a reunion gathering this weekend.
Father Andrew Sammson originally introduced lacrosse to the Notre Dame campus in 1896, but the modern team from which the varsity squad grew was established in 1963 by a small group of East Coast lacrosse players. The club went 5-6 during its inaugural season in 1964 and boasted a 111-91-1 record in its 17 years of play.
Having been run strictly by students in its early years, the lacrosse club gained a coach in 1971 when Rich O’Leary began donating his time to instruct the squad. He was officially named the University’s first varsity lacrosse coach when the club achieved varsity status in May of 1980. The Fighting Irish went 6-6 in their first varsity season in 1981. O’Leary guided the team to a 64-42 record in its first eight seasons of varsity competition.
Kevin Corrigan took over the reins of the program in 1989 and has led Notre Dame to a 249-119 record over the last 26 seasons. The Corrigan era has been highlighted by three trips to Championship Weekend (2001, 2010, 2012) and a current run of nine straight NCAA tournament appearances. In 2013, the Fighting Irish captured their 300th varsity victory.
“It’s really going to be a neat thing for our guys to see how excited the alums are to be back here,” Corrigan said. “It’ll also be nice for them to see our facilities and to see our team competing at a high level. It should be a great game and a great weekend to have everyone back.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
The University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team pursues excellence on and off the field through the three pillars in which the program is built: Character, Culture & Community. These three foundational values guide the promise of the program, which is to provide its student-athletes with the most compelling and enriching experience in all of college athletics. Through academics, competition, service and travel, the program aims to immerse its players in situations that enhance their student-athlete experience to help them become the people, students and teammates they aspire to be.
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