Feb. 4, 1997
Expectations High For Men’s Lacrosse Team
By Bernadette Cafarelli
Consistency. It’s been the hall-mark of the Notre Dame men’slacrosse program since head coach Kevin Corrigan took over nine seasonsago.
During his eight-year tenure, the three-time Great Western LacrosseLeague coach of the year, has guided the Irish to a 72-39 record (.649)and six NCAA tournament appearances. Lacrosse enthusiasts from the Eastcoast, the hotbed of the game, have taken notice of the Irish program,especially in 1995 after Notre Dame became the first team from the Westregion to win an NCAA first round game.
Expect nothing less from Corrigan and his squad in ’97 as this Irishsquad may be his most talented group. Seven starters return from lastyear’s team which finished 11th in the final United States LacrosseAssociation (USILA) poll after climbing as high as sixth midway throughthe season. Corrigan feels the top 10 players he will start comprisethe most athletic team in school history.
“The 10 players we put in the field to start the game will be thebest 10 players we’ve ever put on the field,” says Corrigan. “This is avery athletic team and one that will be able to play different kinds ofgames. We’ll be able to score enough to play with teams that are moreoffensive-minded, and once again, we should be very good defensively.”
While there is a great deal of experience among the top-lineplayers, this is a relatively youthful team with only two seniors onthis year’s roster.
The top three scorers return from a year ago as do three players whoearned All-America honors following the ’96 campaign. Junior midfielderJimmy Keenan, a USILA honorable mention All-America selection, led theteam in scoring with 14 goals and 19 assists.
“Jimmy has a tremendous sense of the game and has great vision onthe field,” says Corrigan. “He is good in the open field because of hisvision; he knows where the ball needs to be.”
Sophomore attackman Chris Dusseau was second in the scoring columnas he led the Irish in goals (29), which established a new single-seasonfreshman record.
“Chris should have another outstanding season,” says Corrigan. “Hehas people around him who can get him the ball. As long as we havepeople who can do that, Chris will take care of the rest.”
Senior midfielder Will DeRiso also returns after having his bestseason as he netted 12 goals and had 10 assists. He is a reliableplayer on the field, demonstrating last season his ability to scoregoals and get people the ball.
The midfield will also be strengthened by the return of junior BurkeHayes who scored 10 goals a year ago. One of the smartest players onthe Irish team, he is a good decision maker and rarely makes a mistakeon the field.
Junior Todd Rassas, a third-team All-America honoree, is themainstay of an Irish defense that loses just one starter. Rassas willbe joined by senior Dave Cashen and junior Adam Sargent. Cashen, alongwith Rassas, started all 13 games in ’96, while Sargent returns aftersitting out last season with a knee injury.
“Todd and Dave are such great leaders on the field,” says Corrigan. “Both are intelligent, hard-nosed players who work very hard and aregreat communicators on the field.”
Anchoring the Irish defense is junior Alex Cade, who was the thirdNotre Dame player a year ago to earn All-American honors. He led thenation in goals against average (7.62) for the second consecutive yearand had a save percentage of .632 that ranked him fifth nationally.
“Alex has shown the past two seasons that he is one of the bestgoalkeepers in the country,” says Corrigan. “He has proven himself inall game situations. Alex really doesn’t have a weakness to his game. He gives us a good place to start defensively.”
The Irish will once again face a challenging schedule both at homeand on the road. Notre Dame opens up the season at Penn State onFebruary 28 and also makes visits to Delaware, Loyola (Md.) andMassachusetts. The five-game home schedule includes visits by Dartmouth(March 22), Hobart (March 29) and Hofstra (April 5).
“We’re in a great position to challenge ourselves with our schedulethis season,” says Corrigan. “It is one that is going to prepare us forthe NCAA tournament.”