April 8, 2016

By John Heisler

As men’s college lacrosse rivalries go, Notre Dame-Duke may not have the longevity as some others in the sport (the teams have met only 16 times)-yet there’s been no shortage of drama in the most recent meetings.

Consider this:

— Notre Dame’s very first NCAA Championship victory came against Duke in 1995 in Durham (that marked Notre Dame’s fifth NCAA contest in history, compared to the fourth for Duke).

— The programs didn’t cross paths again for 15 years-but once they did the highlights came fast and furious.

— The Irish and Blue Devils met twice per season in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

— Duke eliminated Notre Dame in the NCAA Championship bracket in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014-with those four games decided by a combined six goals (one in overtime), Two of those (2010 and 2014) came in NCAA title games.

— Meanwhile, the Irish have been dominant of late in the regular season, defeating the Blue Devils in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015-with the 2010, 2013 and 2015 games played in Durham (the Irish have not lost on Duke’s home field since 1993).

— Championship game memories remain vivid: In 2010 there was Duke’s C.J. Constabile winning the overtime faceoff and racing half the length of the field to score past Irish NCAA Championship MVP goalie Scott Rodgers-then four years later it was Notre Dame freshman Sergio Perkovic with a spectacular five-goal second half (three in the fourth period) to nearly complete a comeback for his Irish.

— And don’t forget that current Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan is the son of Gene Corrigan who is a Duke graduate and at one time was the head men’s lacrosse coach at Virginia (Gene will be in attendance at the game Sunday).

The game is sold out. Here are reasons why it’s worth holding onto a seat:

1. This has been a hot ticket for a long time -A sellout crowd of 5,000 is expected for the Notre Dame-Duke game, likely to be the largest crowd ever at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame’s season-ticket base improved from 120 tickets in 2015 to 905 season tickets sold in 2016, a 654 percent increase. The Irish marketing department sold more season tickets at one Notre Dame preseason practice (where youth lacrosse teams were invited) than were sold all last season. For the Duke game, approximately 3,000 tickets were sold to youth lacrosse teams playing in a tournament in South Bend this weekend (There are teams from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Canada, Missouri, Michigan, New York). There were no individual game ticket sales for the Duke game. The majority of the remaining seats were allocated to the student body.

2. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan on Duke: “They are unbelievably talented. When they put their first midfield group out there those six players are as good as anybody in the country. The challenging thing right now is that they are 7-5, so they need wins. You are going to see them at their best. You are not going to catch them not paying attention. Their tradition has been that they are a team that develops over the course of the year and so we are anticipating seeing the best we’ve seen from them and then some. That’s who they are.”

3. Corrigan on his Notre Dame team: “The way we got to last weekend was by working hard and finding the things we’re best at doing and making sure on game days we are putting ourselves in the best position. That’s what we’ve got to continue to do. That’s partly evaluating the other team, but it’s also evaluating ourselves so we are doing things we know are good and right for us. We’re playing a significant number of younger, newer guys and we want to make sure we continue working and making improvements. The efficiency we played with last weekend was different than any other game this year, and hopefully that’s not lost on our team. I don’t know how it could be. That’s the ticket-although if we knew how to push that button and get it done every week we would have done that.”

4. The best the game has to offer– Sunday’s contest will include a display of the top two career scorers among all active NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse players-in Duke senior midfielder Myles Jones and Notre Dame senior attack Matt Kavanagh. Jones has scored 212 career points to rank atop the point list for active players, while Kavanagh is second on that chart at 202. (Third on the list is Syracuse’s Dylan Donahue, who was limited to a single goal by the Irish defense last weekend). Duke senior Deemer Class is 10th at 181. Jones has scored at least one point in 47 straight games.

5. Which team will impose its will?– There potentially will be two contrasting styles Sunday, considering the game poses a matchup between a Duke offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (14.5 goals per game) and a Notre Dame defense that ranks third nationally (allowing only 6.63 goals per game).

University of Notre Dame Athletics Communications contact:
John Heisler
Senior Associate Athletics Director
112 Joyce Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556
574-631-7516 (office)
574-532-0293 (cell)

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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