March 18, 2016

By John Heisler

The University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse home game at 6 p.m. Saturday would be a big enough attraction if only because it features the Irish opener in Atlantic Coast Conference play against Virginia, a team making its first visit to Arlotta Stadium.

Yet the game takes on an even more personal meaning for Irish players.

The Notre Dame program Saturday joins with the Irish women’s team (the Notre Dame women play host to Virginia at 2 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium) to raise awareness for the issue of relationship violence.

The Notre Dame men’s players will wear white “FOV” stickers on their helmets in support of Friends of Victoria, the organization created in memory of Victoria McManus. Victoria–sister of Notre Dame senior lacrosse player Katherine McManus–was murdered by her former boyfriend in May 2014.

The Irish men’s coaching staff is wearing green Under Armour gear in conjunction with the Notre Dame Gender Relations Center’s Green Dot initiative to prevent power-based personal violence-as the Notre Dame men’s and women’s lacrosse programs combine Saturday in a show of solidarity in support of violence prevention strategy.

Katherine McManus spoke to the Irish men’s team after practice Wednesday to discuss the cause.

“We couldn’t be more supportive of Katherine McManus and her family and the whole issue of preventing relationship violence,” said Irish coach Kevin Corrigan. “It’s a societal issue that affects all of us, and our players should be involved in helping bring awareness to this cause. Matt Kavanagh and several of our other veteran players know Katherine well and have a particular appreciation for what she and her family have been through.”

The greeNDot program, which has been popular with the Irish Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, localizes the national Green Dot initiative to proactively prevent relationship violence. For more information on Notre Dame’s Gender Relations Committee and the school’s greeNDot program, go to

Here is a link to Notre Dame’s Strong of Heart feature on Katherine McManus (including an imbedded video piece): Strong of Heart: Katherine McManus

1. It’s the ACC! It’s the ACC! It’s the ACC!-The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team actually has been part of a handful of different leagues since the Irish program reached varsity status in 1981-the Midwest Lacrosse Association (1981-84), the MLA Great Lakes Conference (1985-93), the Great Western Lacrosse League (1994-2009), the BIG EAST Conference (2010-13) and now the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But it’s safe to say none of those has captured the fancy of those connected to Irish lacrosse like the ACC affiliation. The league has seen its men’s lacrosse membership change in recent years (with Notre Dame and Syracuse joining the league beginning in 2014, and Maryland departing after that season).

But, consider that since the NCAA began sponsoring a lacrosse championship in 1971 (45 championships), either current or former ACC members have won it 25 times (11 by Syracuse, five by Virginia, four by North Carolina, three by Duke, two by Maryland)-and on 25 occasions a current or former ACC school has been the runner-up (10 times by Maryland, six by Syracuse, four by Virginia, two each by Notre Dame and Duke, once by North Carolina).

In the last six years alone, the ACC (current or former schools) has won four titles (three by Duke, one by Virginia) and been the runner-up every time (three times Maryland, twice Notre Dame, once Syracuse).

After its home game versus Virginia, Notre Dame’s other ACC matchups are April 2 at Syracuse, April 10 at Arlotta Stadium against Duke and April 23 at North Carolina.

2. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan on Virginia-“This is a very talented Virginia team that dropped a couple of games unexpectedly early-but in my mind it just makes them that much more dangerous. We know how well they can play and that’s all we can afford to concern ourselves with.

“I think our guys are fine coming off the Denver game (a 9-8 overtime loss to the Pioneers Sunday). We’ve had a good week of practice. They understand that we didn’t make the last play and that’s our job. I don’t think anybody has been hanging their head at all.

“We looked at our schedule at the beginning of the year, and it was obvious there were no easy weeks. We’ve tried to incorporate that into everything we do-it’s geared so that we only play 12 times and we have to be prepared to play those 12 times at a high level because there’s no break there.”

Corrigan is a 1981 University Virginia graduate who played midfield for the Cavaliers and also spent two seasons (1987 and 1988) as a Virginia assistant coach, just before coming to Notre Dame as head coach.

3. Check out that Irish defense-Can Notre Dame keep up the defensive prowess it has shown through the first five games of the season? Even after the overtime loss to top-rated Denver, the second-rated Irish have the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating in the country (according to Lacrosse Film Room). Notre Dame held Denver to a season low in goals, despite the Pioneers having their second most offensive possessions of the season. The Irish held Denver off the scoreboard for a 28:54 period Sunday, including the entire third quarter.

Meanwhile, junior goalie Shane Doss has continued his glossy play-he ranks second in the country in goals-against average (5.75) and fifth in save percentage (.611). The Irish as a team rate second nationally in defense at 6.2 goals allowed per contest.

4. The last time this happened-An unbeaten Notre Dame team last Sunday lost an overtime game to Denver and now plays Virginia the next weekend. A year ago, it was a 3-0 Notre Dame team that lost an overtime game to Denver. From there the Irish played at seventh-rated Virginia the next weekend, defeated the Cavaliers 11-9 and went on a six-game winning streak. That six-game streak also included victories over 15th-rated Ohio State, #1 Syracuse, #7 Duke, #15 Marquette and #2 North Carolina.

5. Irish boast active NCAA career leaders-Notre Dame senior attack Matt Kavanagh heads into weekend play with 187 career points to rank third nationally among active players (Duke’s Myles Jones has 192, Syracuse’s Dylan Donahue has 191). Kavanagh also is fifth in career assists among active players with 83 (Harvard’s Devin Dwyer leads with 105). Sophomore attack Mike Wynne is ninth in goals per game at 2.45-with Albany’s Seth Oakes on top at 3.09.

John Heisler, senior associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 1978. A South Bend, Indiana, native, he is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. He is editor of the award-winning “Strong of Heart” series.