Feb. 23, 2016
By John Heisler
The calendar still reads February, but it’s lacrosse season – and so University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse fans have a pair of opportunities this week to take early looks at their top-ranked Irish squad.
The first of those comes at 5 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 23) against a 1-1 Bellarmine team (an 11-10 win over Robert Morris, a 9-7 defeat at Marquette). The Irish (1-0) are coming off a 12-7 victory in their season opener, that one Saturday at the Cobb County Classic in Kennesaw, Georgia, against 13th-rated Georgetown.
Bellarmine represents an old Great Western Lacrosse League rival for the Irish, with the teams last meeting in 2009.
Here’s what’s apparent about Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan’s club so far in 2016:
1. Sergio Perkovic is already in midseason form – Inside Lacrosse referred to Perkovic as a “rock star” after his four-goal effort Saturday paved the way for Notre Dame’s win over Georgetown and earned him plenty of postgame attention from youthful autograph-seekers wielding cellphones (as well as Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors). Perkovic looked as if he picked up right where he left off in the NCAA national semifinals last May when he scored five goals against Denver in a 5:57 span of the final period to tie the game late. There may be players with harder shots than Perkovic, but his 6-4 frame helps create a “wow” factor when he attacks the goal. After one week he ranks fifth nationally in goals per game.
2. Shane Doss represents a known commodity – Corrigan took a hard look at all his goaltenders during the preseason, but ultimately Doss won the role to begin the season because his teammates know what to expect from him. Doss is a quiet, unassuming player who was the coolest and calmest individual on the field to start the Georgetown game when his six first-period saves allowed his teammates to score the first four goals of the game. When the Irish players chose their postgame “man of the match,” it was Doss. That also helped him earn the ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Week award. After one week he ranks fifth nationally in save percentage, ninth in saves per game and 13thin goals-against average.
3. Matt Kavanagh can play a variety of roles – The Irish senior captain has developed a reputation as a magician around the net. Yet he’s been around long enough – and burned enough opponents–to merit consistent defensive attention. That puts him in good position to set up his teammates for opportunities – and he did that to perfection with four assists against the Hoyas (three of those leading to Perkovic goals). After one week he ranks 11th nationally in points per game.
4. The Irish have some talented rookies – Four Notre Dame freshmen played roles for the Irish in the opener against Georgetown. Attack Ryder Garnsey scored a third-period goal (a key one considering the Hoyas had cut the Irish lead to 7-5), Drew Schantz and Timmy Phillips looked comfortable in their midfield assignments, while Hugh Crance scored a late goal.
5. Notre Dame will be tough to stop if it dominates possession – Junior P.J. Finley can’t count on winning 16 of 21 face-offs every game, as he did against Georgetown (he ranks third nationally in that category after one week of play). Yet if he comes anywhere near those numbers on a regular basis, Irish opponents should worry. If Notre Dame takes care of the ball, the Irish should score their share, and the generally proficient Notre Dame defense should be tough to solve with all three 2015 defensive starters (captain and All-American Matt Landis, senior captain Eddy Glazener and junior Garrett Epple) back along with Doss.
Irish Men’s Lax 2016 Home Opener vs. Bellarmine Looms
— BELLARMINE (1-1) vs. #1/#2/#1 NOTRE DAME (1-0)
— Wednesday, February 24, 2016 – 5 p.m. (EST)
— Loftus Sports Center (indoors) – Notre Dame, Indiana
Rankings are Inside Lacrosse (media)/USILA (coaches)/Lacrosse magazine
2016 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE AND SCORES (1-0)
Notre Dame began the 2016 season rated first in both the Nike/Lacrosse magazine and Cascade/Maverik/Inside Lacrosse media preseason polls, while the Irish were second (behind 2015 NCAA champion Denver) in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll of coaches. Notre Dame moved to the top spot in the Feb. 15 USILA poll, then went back to second in the Feb. 22 USILA listings. Here are the Feb. 22 polls (italics indicate 2016 Notre Dame opponent):
— USILA (coaches): 1.Denver, 2.Notre Dame, 3.Duke, 4.Syracuse, 5.Maryland, 6.Loyola, 7.Yale, 8.Johns Hopkins, 9.Brown, 10.North Carolina, 11.Virginia, 12.Hofstra, 13.Towson, 14.Harvard, 15.Penn State, 16.Navy, 17.Georgetown, 18.Albany, 19. Stony Brook. 20.Bucknell.
— Cascade/Maverik/Inside Lacrosse (media): 1.Notre Dame, 2.Denver, 3.Syracuse, 4.Maryland, 5.Duke, 6.Loyola, 7.Yale, 8.(tie)Brown and Johns Hopkins, 10.Virginia, 11.North Carolina, 12.Penn State, 13.Hofstra, 14.Towson, 15.Harvard, 16.Navy, 17.Georgetown, 18.Albany, 19.Cornell, 20.Bucknell.
— Nike/Lacrosse magazine: 1.Notre Dame, 2.Denver, 3.Duke, 4.Maryland, 5.Syracuse, 6.Loyola, 7.Johns Hopkins, 8.Yale, 9.Brown, 10.Virginia, 11.Hofstra, 12.North Carolina, 13.Towson,14.Georgetown, 15.Navy, 16.Penn State, 17.Albany, 18.Marquette, 19.Stony Brook, 20.Harvard.
NOTRE DAME AND THE NUMBER-ONE SPOT
Notre Dame last week ranked first in all three polls in 2016. The Irish spent four weeks holding down the number-one spot in 2015, losing that ranking by virtue of a 13-8 loss to Duke in an ACC Championship semifinal match. — After beating #1 Syracuse on March 28, 2015, Notre Dame moved to the top of the USILA (coaches) and Inside Lacrosse Cascade/Maverik (media) polls. — Since the program’s inception in 1981, Notre Dame has been ranked #1 in both polls for nine weeks. Here are Notre Dame’s appearances at #1:
* April 18/May 2, 2011 (USILA and media polls — 2 weeks)
* March 25/April 1, 2013 (USILA and media polls — 1 week)
* April 22/April 29, 2013 (USILA and media polls — 1 week)
* March 30/April 20, 2015 (USILA and media polls — 4 weeks)
* February 15, 2016 (USILA and media polls ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 1 week)
THE ACC IN 2016
ACC Offensive Player of the Week
Feb. 8: Steve Pontrello, North Carolina
Feb. 15: Dylan Donahue, Syracuse
Feb. 22: Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame
ACC Defensive Player of the Week
Feb. 8: Jake Matthai, North Carolina
Feb. 15: Nick Mellen, Syracuse/Kyle Rowe, Duke
Feb. 22: Shane Doss, Notre Dame, and Ben Williams, Syracuse
FANTASTIC FEBRUARYS FOR FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame is 22-2 in its last 23 games played in February. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan is 27-5 in the month of February during his Notre Dame tenure.
— The last Irish defeat in February came Feb. 22, 2014, in an 8-7 home loss to #12 Penn State.
THE BELLARMINE SERIES
Notre Dame leads it 4-0, including 2-0 marks both at Notre Dane and in Louisville. This is the first meeting between the two programs since four straight contests from 2006-09 when both teams were members of the Great Western Lacrosse League.
The last time these teams met senior attack Duncan Swezey scored four goals as the Irish opened their Great Western Lacrosse League season with an 11-6 victory over Bellarmine in 2009 in South Bend. Bellarmine cut the Notre Dane lead to a single goal early in the second half, then Kevin Corrigan’s crew scored four straight and held Bellarmine scoreless over the final 29:10 to push the Irish season record to 7-0.
IRISH ROLL IN 2016 OPENER
Top-rated Notre Dame set the tone early Saturday, breaking to a 4-0 lead after the opening period and rolling to an eventual 12-7 triumph over 13th-ranked Georgetown. The contest came in the season opener for both teams, played at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on the campus of Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Junior midfielder and returning All-American Sergio Perkovic notched two of his team-high four goals (his eighth career contest with three or more goals) in the first 15 minutes, and junior goaltender Shane Doss got off to a hot start, making six saves in the opening period. Notre Dame built its lead to 7-2 midway through the second period before Georgetown tallied three straight times, the last in the second period and then the first two in the third to cut the margin to 7-5. From there Irish freshman Ryder Garnsey recorded his first collegiate goal and Perkovic added his third. That upped the Irish advantage to 9-5 with 10:25 to go in the third period–and the Hoyas never got closer than three the rest of the afternoon. Sophomore Mikey Wynne added three in-close scores for Notre Dame, while returning All-American Matt Kavanagh excelled from behind the cage, finishing with a goal and four assists, three of them on Perkovic goals. Notre Dame’s defense played impressively early in front of Doss, and faceoff specialist P.J. Finley dominated those events, winning 16 of 21. Doss finished with 14 saves, as the Irish produced a strong 35-23 edge in ground balls. The win marked Notre Dame’s 14th straight in season openers. Those efforts enabled Perkovic to win the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the week award on offense, while Doss shared the defensive award with Ben Williams of Syracuse.
For full release, please view the Complete Game Notes