Feb. 28, 2004
The 11th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team will open its season on Sunday by playing host to #17 Penn State (1-0) at 1 p.m. (EST) in the Loftus Sports Center. The Irish, who will open 2004 with seven consecutive games against ranked opponents, were 9-5 a year ago en route to winning a share of their fifth consecutive Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) title and finishing the season ranked 18th in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Associaion (USILA) national rankings.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS NOTES PACKAGE: Below are some of the top points from this notes package. For more details on any topic, consult the remainder of this release.
* Notre Dame is coming off a 2003 season in which it was 9-5, won a share of a fifth consecutive Great Western Lacrosse League title, and finished 18th in the final USILA national rankings.
* The Irish return 20 monogram winners, including eight starters, from last year’s team. Among those are sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.), who led all Division I freshmen in scoring last season en route to setting a Notre Dame rookie scoring record and becoming the first Irish freshman to earn All-America accolades (honorable mention by USILA). In addition, he was the GWLL Newcomer of the Year.
* Notre Dame is ranked 11th in Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll, 16th in the Inside Lacrosse magazine coaches’ preseason poll, and 14th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Associaion (USILA) does not publish its first rankings of the season until Monday.
* Notre Dame will open the season vs. Penn State for the eighth consecutive season, having beaten the Nittany Lions in five of those openers and in six of 10 overall meetings.
* Penn State is 1-0 after a 5-4 victory last weekend at Ohio State.
* Each of the last three games between ND and PSU has been decided by two goals or fewer and neither team has scored more than 10 in any of the last four meetings. This year’s meeting will be the 10th in a row in which both teams enter the contest carrying national rankings.
* On Feb. 23, 2003, Notre Dame beat Penn State 10-9 in Holuba Hall in the season opener for both teams.
* Sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) was one of 26 players named to the watch list for the 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top player at the conclusion of the season.
* Senior A Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) and sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) earned preseason honorable mention All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse magazine.
* Notre Dame boasts one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation. Head coach Kevin Corrigan and assistants Kevin Anderson and Guy Van Arsdale combine for 50 years of college and pro coaching experience heading into 2004. Thirty-two of those years have been as head coaches. Only three Division I teams have more years of combined coaching experience than the Irish, and just four have more previous seasons as head coaches.
* This year’s Irish schedule is highlighted by a pair of road trips to Final Four teams from last year (March 11 at Syracuse; May 1 at Maryland) and four home games against ’03 NCAA participants. In all, nine of the 12 Irish opponents are among the top 25 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason coaches poll, including seven in a row to start the season.
* Notre Dame is 20-3 in home openers, including wins in 20 of the last 22.
SNAPSHOT OF THE IRISH: Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse program has experienced a wealth of success since the arrival of head coach Kevin Corrigan in 1989. In his 15 seasons, Corrigan has guided Notre Dame to a winning record 12 times, including 10 seasons with nine or more victories, compiling a 132-74 (.643) mark. The Irish have earned 10 berths to the NCAA Championship, including quarterfinal apperances in 1995 and 2000 and a Final Four trip in 2001. Notre Dame has 32 victories over ranked opponents, including eight vs. top-10 teams and hold a 68-21 (.764) overall record at home. Notre Dame has won 12 conference titles (9 Great Western Lacrosse League, 3 Great Lakes Conference) in that span. Since the formation of the GWLL in 1994, the Irish are 34-4 (.895) in conference play — including 20-1 (.952) at home — winning at least a share of the league championship in every season except 1998. Notre Dame has had at least one All-American in each of the last 11 seasons, a total of 22 honorees since 1994. In addition, the Irish have garnered 79 all-conference honors, highlighted by four GWLL player-of-the-year awards.
The 2004 Irish team returns 20 monogram winners and eight starters from last year’s squad that was 9-5, won a share of a fifth consecutive GWLL title and finished 18th in the final USILA national rankings.
On paper, there are few teams in Division I that can match the offensive firepower Notre Dame boasts this season. Headlining that group is sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.), who was the highest-scoring freshman in the country last season en route to setting a Notre Dame freshman scoring record and becoming the first Irish rookie ever to earn All-America honors. His 32 assists matched the Notre Dame record, led the GWLL, and ranked sixth nationally (2.29 per game), including tops by far among freshmen (the second-best mark was 1.73). Walsh also netted 20 goals for a total of 52 points, which ranked third in the conference and 12th in the nation. Junior A Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) has been Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer in each of the last two seasons, establishing himself as one of the best finishers in Division I. A two-time first-team all-GWLL honoree and preseason honorable mention All-America selection by Inside Lacrosse, he had 32 goals in 2003, which ranked 18th in the nation (2.29 per game). Senior A Matt Howell (Huntington, N.Y./Huntington H.S.) enters the season as one of Notre Dame’s top attackmen for the third straight year, but he has been plagued by injuries in each of the last two campaigns. Despite missing five contests in 2003, he ranked ninth in the nation in points per game (3.78) and eighth in assists per game (2.11). Others who figure to be important on attack are junior A Matt Malakoff (Bay Shore, N.Y./Bay Shore H.S.) and freshmen A Brian Boyle (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) and A Patrick O’Toole (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson H.S.).
As on attack, Notre Dame’s midfield boasts outstanding depth. Seniors M Steve Clagett (Chesapeake Beach, Md./DeMatha Catholic H.S.) and M Owen Mulford (Ocean City, Md./Loyola Blakefield H.S.) are two of just just three players on the Irish roster to have already won three monograms. In 2003, Clagett was the first Irish junior to serve as a team captain since 1997, collecting 38 ground balls. Mulford had 10 goals and three assists a year ago.
Junior M Brian Giordano (Princeton, N.J./Hun School) has been Notre Dame’s top offensive middie over the last two seasons, scoring 22 goals and dishing off 15 assists, while starting 24 of 27 contests. A first-team all-GWLL honoree last season, he is an All-America candidate in 2004. Four sophomores stepped in to help the Irish midfield a year ago as rookies. M Matt Karweck (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) started 12 games and had 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in ’03, while M Matt Ryan (Ridley Park, Pa./Ridley H.S.) and M Brian Hubschmann (Short Hills, N.J./Delbarton H.S.) could have breakout campaigns this season and M Drew Peters (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon H.S.) has become more of a complete middie for ’04. Among the freshmen, the top contenders for playing time are M John Greaney (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon H.S.) and M Bill Liva (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Malvern Preparatory School).
Four players are competing to handle faceoff duties for the Irish in 2004. Junior M Craig Bishko (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip H.S.) was Notre Dame’s top draw man a year ago, while senior M Nick Petcoff (Troy, Mich./Detroit Country Day H.S.) has established himself as the most solid and consistent faceoff man for the Irish. Junior M Frank Matarazzo (Franklin Lakes, N.J./Bergen Catholic H.S.) and sophomore M Steve Panos (Arnold, Md./Broadneck H.S.) also have put themselves into position to earn playing time in the faceoff circle.
Junior M Chris Richez (Freeport, N.Y./Freeport H.S.), senior M Chris Masterson (West Hempstead, N.Y./Chaminade H.S.), and sophomore M Brandon Schultheis (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon H.S.) will be Notre Dame’s top longstick midfielders. The role is new for Richez, who had 10 goals and seven assists in his first two seasons as a regular middie, and his athleticism and prior experience could make him an occasional offensive threat.
Though Notre Dame’s defense is not quite as experienced as the other Irish units, it nonethless boasts a number of battle-tested players and could turn out to be a team strength. Senior D Mickey Blum (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City H.S.) will be in his third year as a starter on the Irish defense, while another senior, M Brennan Creaney (Baltimore, Md./Loyola Blakefield H.S.), also will be back after starting the first 10 games of last season before suffering an injury. Sophomore D D.J. Driscoll (Downington, Pa./Malvern Preparatory School) became the first defenseman and just the second freshman ever to lead Notre Dame in ground balls a year ago, with 61. He was a large reason the Irish ranked second in the nation in ground balls per game and will once again be an important factor after being a second-team all-GWLL honoree in his first campaign. Among the rookies, D J.R. Stahl (Sparks, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) and D Joey Rallo (Cockeysville, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) are the leading contenders to contribute.
The final line of defense figures to be a strength for the Irish, with senior G Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md./Landon School) manning the cage again in 2004. He got a taste of being the top Notre Dame goalie two seasons ago before establishing himself as not only the best goalkeeper on the Irish, but one of the elite players at the position in the country in 2003. Crosland was fifth in Division I in save percentage (.626) a year ago and ranked 11th in goals-against average (7.49), leading the Great Western Lacrosse League in both categories. Junior G Sean Quigley (Rockville Center, N.Y./Chaminade H.S.) and sophomore G Daniel Hickey (Garden City, N.Y./Chaminade H.S.) are not expected to see much action if Crosland is healthy, but both have made improvements and are capable backups.
2003 REVIEW: In 2003, Notre Dame returned to the ranks of the nation’s elite teams, posting a 9-5 record against a grueling schedule and earning a share of the Great Western Lacrosse League title – the fifth in a row for the Irish. The Irish, whose five losses all came against top-20 foes, finished the season ranked 18th in the nation and just missed a berth in the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame started the season with six consecutive games against top-25 opponents. The Irish, ranked 17th in the preseason, got off on the right foot with consecutive victories against #16 Penn State, #23 Penn, and #12 North Carolina. The next three games would feature three difficult losses, evening Notre Dame’s record at 3-3. After traveling to top-ranked and eventual national champion Virginia and falling 14-8, the Irish dropped consecutive 9-8 decisions to #11 Loyola at home and #15 Hofstra on the road. The Irish got back on track two days later with a 17-3 win against Hartford before beginning GWLL play. Notre Dame opened the conference season with a 9-8 win at home against eventual league tri-champion Denver. The April 6 matchup in Columbus, Ohio between 15th-ranked Notre Dame and #19 Ohio State proved to be one of the most important games of the season, as the winner would earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. After Notre Dame scored early in the second half to tie the game for the fourth time, 5-5, the Buckeyes caught fire, putting six unanswered scores into the net for an 11-5 triumph. Notre Dame completed its five consecutive GWLL matches with a trio of easy victories, outscoring opponents 36-10 in wins over Butler (9-2), Air Force (13-4), and Fairfield (14-4).
With two games remaining, the Irish still had a chance to gain an at-large bid to the NCAAs if they could win both. Notre Dame posted a 16-11 home win vs. Harvard in the penultimate contest of the season. But in the season finale, fourth-ranked Maryland got a 10-4 victory over the Irish to ruin Notre Dame’s postseason hopes.
Despite missing the postseason, there were a number of highlights for the Irish. Freshman A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) became Notre Dame’s first-ever freshman All-American, earning honorable mention and continuing a streak of 11 consecutive seasons of at least one Notre Dame player gaining All-America honors. He also was named the GWLL Newcomer of the Year and set a freshman scoring record with 52 points. Walsh’s 32 assists tied the Irish record, while his eight points against Harvard were just one shy of the top all-time mark. The only Notre Dame rookie to ever lead the team in scoring, Walsh was the highest-scoring freshman in the nation (3.71 points per game) and also led all Division I first-year players in assists (2.29 per game). He led all GWLL players in assists and finished sixth nationally.
Junior A Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) and sophomore M Brian Giordano (Princeton, N.J./Hun School) joined Walsh in earning first team all-GWLL honors. The elder player led the Irish in goals for the second consecutive season, ranking 17th nationally with 2.29 per game (32 total) and tallying multiple scores nine times. Giordano had 13 goals and five assists in his first season in the midfield after starting as a freshman attackman.
Junior G Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md./Landon School) was strong in goal for Notre Dame, finishing fifth in Division I in save percentage (.626) and 11th in goals-against average (7.49). The conference leader in both of those categories, he garnered second-team all-GWLL mention. Other second-team all-league selections were freshman D D.J. Driscoll (Downington, Pa./Malvern Preparatory School) and seniors John Souch and A Travis Wells.
IRISH vs. NITTANY LIONS: Penn State, ranked 17th in the preseason by both Inside Lacrosse and Lacrosse Magazine, opened its season with a 5-4 victory at Ohio State last Saturday. The Buckeyes scored a pair of goals early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 4-4 before senior A Greg Hale netted the game-winner with 5:53 remaining in the contest. In his first career start, junior G Josh LaGrow had 14 saves in holding Ohio State scoreless in the middle two periods. In six previous career games, Hale had a total of four saves. Senior M Edmond Perry and sophomore A Nate Whitaker each had a goal and an assist for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State returns 28 letterwinners, including five starters, from last year’s team that was 7-7 (3-2), finished in a second-place tie in the ECAC, lost at Towson (11-6) in the first round of the NCAA Championship, and ended the campaign ranked 11th by the USILA. Gone from that team are honorable mention All-Americans G Chris Garrity and D Matt Zappia, but senior LSM Rob Bateman, a second-team All-American, returns. Whitaker led the team in scoring as a freshman with 24 goals and 10 assists (34 points).
Notre Dame and Penn State will play for the eighth consecutive season and 11th time overall. The Irish lead the series 6-4 and have won three of the last four. This will be the eighth year in a row that Notre Dame has started its season by playing the Nittany Lions. Penn State prevailed 10-9 in overtime in its last visit to the Loftus Sports Center, in 2002. Each of the last three games between the teams has been decided by two goals or fewer and neither team has scored more than 10 in any of the last four meetings. This year’s meeting will be the 10th in a row in which both teams enter the contest carrying national rankings. Notre Dame has won three of the four games at home against the Lions.
On Feb. 23, 2003, Notre Dame beat Penn State 10-9 in Holuba Hall in the season opener for both teams. The Irish got four goals from A Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.), while A Matt Howell (Huntington, N.Y./Huntington H.S.) added a goal and five assists for a career-high six points. G Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md./Landon School) made 15 saves and held the Nittany Lions to just four goals through the first three periods. Luke Oglesby led Penn State with three goals, while Whitaker, M Will Cutler, and M Marc Young each added a goal and an assist.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: Notre Dame is well-represented in the national rankings. The Irish were ranked 11th in Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll and 16th in the Inside Lacrosse magazine coaches’ preseason listing. Notre Dame is 14th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Associaion (USILA) does not publish its first rankings of the season until Monday. The Irish finished last season 18th in those rankings.
WALSH ON TEWAARATON TROPHY WATCH LIST: Sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) was one of 26 players named to the watch list for the 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top player at the conclusion of the season. The award will be presented at a banquet in Washington, D.C. on June 3. Walsh, who led all Division I freshmen in scoring a year ago, is the first Irish player ever named the to watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy, which is in just its fourth year, though A Tom Glatzel was a finalist for the award in 2001.
COACHING EXPERIENCE: With the addition of assistant coach Guy Van Arsdale, Notre Dame boasts one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation. Head coach Kevin Corrigan and assistants Kevin Anderson and Van Arsdale combine for 50 years of college and pro coaching experience heading into 2004. Thirty-two of those years have been as head coaches. Only three Division I teams have more years of combined coaching experience than the Irish, and just four have more previous seasons as head coaches.
GWLL DOMINANCE: For the 11th year in a row, the Irish will compete in the Great Western Lacrosse League, along with Air Force, Butler, Denver, Fairfield, and Ohio State. Notre Dame has won nine GWLL titles, including at least a share of each of the last five. Ohio State, Denver, and the Irish were co-champions in 2003. Notre Dame has a 34-4 all-time record in GWLL play.
BERGER, WALSH EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA MENTION: Senior A Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md./Boys’ Latin H.S.) and sophomore A Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh H.S.) earned preseason honorable mention All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse magazine. Berger was Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer in each of the last two seasons, while Walsh led all Division I freshmen in scoring last year en route to setting an Irish freshman scoring record and becoming the first Notre Dame rookie to earn All-America honors, copping honorable mention accolades.
TOUGH SLATE: Notre Dame will face a difficult road to the 2004 NCAA Championship. This year’s Irish schedule is highlighted by a pair of road trips to Final Four teams from last year (March 11 at Syracuse; May 1 at Maryland) and four home games against ’03 NCAA participants. In all, nine of the 12 Irish opponents are among the top 25 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason coaches poll, including seven in a row to start the season.
START ME UP: For the eighth consecutive year, Notre Dame will open its season by playing Penn State. The Irish are 16-7 in season openers, including wins in five of the seven games with the Nittany Lions. Notre Dame has won six of its last seven home openers, with the lone blemish a 10-9 overtime loss to PSU in 2002. Overall, the Irish are 20-3 in home openers, including wins in 20 of the last 22.
MEN’S LAX GOLD GAME TO BE MARCH 31 vs. GWLL RIVAL OHIO STATE: On Wednesday, March 31 at 4 p.m., two of the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) tri-champions from last year will face off at Krause Stadium. The contest between Notre Dame and Ohio State, which earned the conference’s automatic bid to the 2003 NCAA Championship via tiebreaker policy, will be the men’s lacrosse “Gold Game” this season. The distinction was created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend designated contests, each determined to be the most significant home event of the season for the respective team.
HEAD COACH Kevin Corrigan: Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan is in his 16th season at the helm of the Notre Dame program. He has led the Irish to a 132-74 (.643) mark, while holding a 142-89 (.615) overall record. Corrigan’s Notre Dame teams have earned 10 NCAA tournament berths since 1990, highlighted by quarterfinal appearances in 1995 and 2000 and a Final Four trip in 2001. Only six other Division I schools have as many postseason appearances in that span, while Corrigan and Princeton’s Bill Tierney are the only two mentors in the country to have led their current teams to 10 NCAA tournaments since ’90. Corrigan’s teams have had 12 winning seasons, including 10 with nine or more victories. He has had at least one player earn All-America honors in each of the last 11 seasons for a total of 22 All-Americans since 1994. In addition, 79 players have garnered all-conference mention under Corrigan. The Irish also have claimed at least a share of 12 conference titles (9 Great Western Lacrosse League, 3 Great Lakes Conference), including five in a row. In a three-year playing career as a midfielder at Virginia, Corrigan helped the Cavaliers to the NCAA final in 1979. He previously was an assistant at Notre Dame in 1983 and served as head coach of Randolph-Macon College for two years (1985-86).
KEEPING UP WITH ND MEN’S LACROSSE: For the fastest results of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse games, call the Notre Dame Sports Hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #5 and #1. The hotline provides schedules and result information for all 26 varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website, www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with results of each Notre Dame men’s lacrosse match.
In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting sports information assistant Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.firstname.lastname@example.org. All requests for story ideas, interview access, match credentials, and further information on Irish men’s lacrosse should similarly be directed to Rottenborn. Credential and interview requests should be made at least 24 hours in advance.