Feb. 28, 1997

No.14 Notre Dame Opens Up ’97 Campaign At No. 16 Penn State

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame, 9-4 a year ago, will open up the 1997 campaign on the road when the Irish travel to State College, Pa. to face the Nittany Lions of Penn State. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Notre Dame is ranked 14th in the preseason Face-Off Lacrosse Yearbook Poll, while Penn State is 16th.

In ’96, the Irish were 11th in the final United States Lacrosse Association (USILA) and Penn State finished 18th. Notre Dame made its fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance a year ago and sixth in the last seven years. The Irish lost to Johns Hopkins 12-7 in first round action. Penn State had a 10-3 record a year.

The Week Ahead: Notre Dame opens up its 17th season of varsity lacrosse on Friday, February 28 on the road at Penn State in the season opener for both schools.

Head Coach Kevin Corrigan: Kevin Corrigan is beginning his ninth season at Notre Dame and 11th overall as a head coach. During his tenure, the three-time Great Western Lacrosse League coach of the year has guided Notre Dame to a 72-39 record (.649) and six NCAA tournament appearances, including five straight. Under Corrigan in 1995, Notre Dame won its first-ever NCAA tournament game which propelled the Irish into the quarterfinals. Corrigan has led Notre Dame to berths in the NCAAs six of the last seven seasons.

The Irish have won 10-plus games three of the past five seasons, including a school record 11 wins in ’93.

Prior to taking over as head coach of the Irish in 1989, he was head coach at Randolph-Macon for two seasons (1985 and 1986). While at Randolph-Macon, he compiled a 10-15 record (.400). His overall coaching ledger in 10 seasons as a head coach is 82-54 (.603).

Series Record vs. Penn State: This is the fourth meeting between the two schools and the third time Notre Dame and Penn State have met in State College, Pa. The Nittany Lions lead the series 2-1. The Irish are 0-2 at Penn State having lost 9-1 in 1989 and 15-14 in 1995. Notre Dame’s victory in the series came at home 12-9 during the 1994 season.

Irish Face Tough Schedule in ’97: The Irish will face another demanding schedule this seasn as they play five teams — Harvard, Loyola, Hofstra, Massachusetts and Penn State — that finished in the final USILA rankings. Three of those teams — Harvard, Hofstra and Loyola — all participated in the ’96 NCAA tournament. Six of Notre Dame’s opponents this season are ranked in the Face-off Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

The Captains: Notre Dame’s four captains this season are seniors DAVE CASHEN (Chester, N.J.), WILL DeRISO (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) and juniors ALEX CADE (North Potomac, Md.) and JIMMY KEENAN (Floral Park, N.Y.).

Tough Defense: Notre Dame ranked second nationally in scoring defense as the Irish are allowing just 7.16 goals per game. Coach Kevin Corrigan’s team only allowed 10-plus goals in four games last season (Loyola, Dartmouth, North Carolina and Johns Hopkins).

Home Sweet Home?: After going undefeated at home during the 1994 and 1995 campaigns, the Irish did not find much success at home last season and were an uncharacteristic 2-3 – the most losses ever by a Notre Dame lacrosse team since the program’s inception in 1981. The 12-4 win over Michigan State was the first home win of the ’96 season.

New Faces on Irish Staff: There are two new faces on the Irish coaching staff this season — KEVIN ANDERSON and STEVE CICCARONE. ANDERSON is a 1993 Loyola graduate where he starred in both lacrosse and basketball. He earned USILA All-America honors in the midfield during his season year and finished his career with 35 goals and 10 assists. He played on the ’90 Greyhound squad which finished as the runner-up to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, ANDERSON spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Washington & Lee.

CICCARONE was a starter on the 1987 Johns Hopkins University National Championship Team. A three-year starter on defense for the Blue Jays and is a 1990 graduate of the University.

Youth Movement: Notre Dame’s two leading scorers last season were junior JIMMY KEENAN and sophomore CHRIS DUSSEAU (Columbus, Ohio). KEENAN had 15 goals and a team-high 19 assists (34 points), while DUSSEAU led the team with 29 goals and two assists (31 points). KEENAN had either a goal or an assist in 12 of 13 games this season. The only game he has failed to register a point was against North Carolina on April 13. His best outing of the season was against Maryland-Baltimore County when he scored a career-high five goals. He dished off a career-best four assists in Notre Dame’s NCAA tournament first round loss to Johns Hopkins.. DUSSEAU has been Notre Dame’s leading scorer in seven games this season. He scored four goals in back-to-back victories over Air Force and Butler and tallied Notre Dame’s game-winning goals in consecutive games against both Harvard and Dartmouth.

Heart Stoppin’ Victories: Three of Notre Dame’s victories last season came in dramatic fashion and were decided in the final two minutes of the contest.

Hobart (March 30) – Notre Dame had a two-goal fourth quarter lead erased, but senior tri-captain BRIAN GILFILLAN provided the heroics for the Irish as he scored the winning goal 38 seconds into sudden-death overtime.

Harvard (April 6) – The Irish won their second straight game in overtime as CHRIS DUSSEAU put in the game-winner with 1:53 left in sudden-death overtime. It was the only time in the game the Irish led as they rallied from a 4-1 third quarter deficit. JIMMY KEENAN tied the game with 40 seconds remaining to send the contest into overtime.

Dartmouth (April 8) – CHRIS DUSSEAU’s third goal of the game proved to be a real charm as he rallied Notre Dame for the second straight game, tallying the winning goal with 1:22 left in the contest. Notre Dame trailed by as many as five goals in the second quarter, but took the lead for the first time in the contest (13-12) on KEENAN ‘s unassisted goal with 8:35 left in the contest. Dartmouth tied the game at 13-13 with 6:46 left before DUSSEAU’s goal.

Elite Company: Notre Dame’s fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament last season put the Irish in rather elite company. Only five other teams in the ’96 field – Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse – have been part of the NCAA tournament the past five years. Notre Dame’s first round win over Duke last year marked the first-ever win for a Midwest team in the NCAA championships.

Preseason Honors: Four members of this year’s Irish squad were selected to the College Lacrosse USA Preseason All-America teams. ALEX CADE was selected for first-team honors, while teammates JIMMY KEENAN, TODD RASSAS (Northfield, Ill.) and CHRIS DUSSEAU were named to the honorable mention team. In his second season, CADE led the nation in goals against average for the second straight year.

As sophomores, CADE, KEENAN and RASSAS were named to the USILA All-America teams as they became the first three players in Irish lacrosse history to be selected for the honor in the same season.

Irish Lacrosse Notes Of The Week

  • Notre Dame is 11-5 in season openers, but the Irish have dropped the last two. Coach Kevin Corrigan’s squad lost at Penn State in ’95, 15-14, and last season fell 14-7 to Loyola (Md.) at home.
  • Four Notre Dame players were named to the College Lacrosse USA All-America team. Junior goalkeeper ALEX CADE was selected to the first team, while juniors TODD RASSAS, a defenseman, and JIMMY KEENAN, a midfielder, and sophomore attackman CHRIS DUSSEAU were selected for honorable mention recognition.

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