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No. 17 Irish Open Up 2003 Campaign At No. 16 Penn State

Feb. 22, 2003

Notre Dame, Ind. –

Notre Dame-Penn State Game Notes in PDF Format
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THE WEEK AHEAD – No. 17 Notre Dame opens up the 2003 camapign on the road at No. 16 Penn State on Sunday, February 23 at 1:00 p.m. State College, Pa., in the season opener for both teams. The Irish finished the 2002 campaign wth a 5-8 record last season and were co-champions of the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) with a 4-1 mark. Penn State posted an 8-5 ledger and 1-4 mark in ECAC play.

SCOUTING THE IRISH – Notre Dame returns six starters and 16 monogram winners from last season’s squad which finished with a 5-8 record, just the third losing season in the program’s 22-year history. The Irish shared a piece of the Great Western Lacrosse League championship with Fairfield as each team posted a 4-1 league mark. Junior Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md.), a 13-game starter at attack last season, is Notre Dame’s top returning scorer, He tied for season-high scoring honors in ’02 as he netted a team-high 21 goals and dished off four assist (25 points). Berger earned first team all-GWLL honors. Senior Kyle Frigon (Salem, Mass.) also returns at attack. He was Notre Dame’s fourth leading scorer last season with 11 goals and six assist (17 points). Senior Travis Wells (Severna Park, Md.) and sophomores Brian Giordano and Chris Chris Richez (Freeport, N.Y.) will comprise a solid midfield unit. Wells played saw action in all 13 contests and netted 10 goals and dished off five assists. Giordano (Prineton, N.J.) is coming off of a solid rookie season in which he scored nine goals and dished off 10 assists (19 points). Richez had six goals and four assists (10 points) in 13 games played. Notre Dame’s defense will be extremely solid with the return of senior Eric Simon (Flemington, N.J.) and junior Mickey Blum (Garden City, N.Y.). Simon started missed four games with a broken hand, but started the nine games he played, while Blum was a 13-game starter. Senior John Souch (Watertown, N.Y.) has been the Irish’s primary longstick midfielder for the past three seasons. Senior Nick Antol (Baldwin, Md.) and junior Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md.) will be battling for the starting job in goal. Antol started 10 of the 11 games and registered an 8.19 goals against average and .585 save percentage in 608:33 minutes. Crosland played 181:14 of a possible 789:44 and made three starting appearances. He had a 6.62 goals against average and .677 save percentage.

THE CAPTAINS – Seniors Eric Simon, John Souch and Travis Wells and junior Steve Clagett (Chesapeake Beach, Md.) will serve as captains for the 2003 campaign.

SERIES RECORD VERSUS PENN STATE – Sunday’s meeting will be the 10th meeting between the two schools with the Irish holding a 5-4 advantage in the series. This will be the seventh straight year Notre Dame and Penn State will be facing each other in the season opener. The Irish have won four of the last six matchups, but dropped a 10-9 overtime decision. Notre Dame in 2-3 on the Nittany Lions’ home field. In their last visit (2001), the Irish earned a 10-8 victory.

HEAD COACH KEVIN CORRIGAN – Kevin Corrigan begins his 15th season at Notre Dame and 17th in the collegiate ranks. The four-time Great Western Lacrosse League coach of the year owns a 133-84 (.613) overall ledger and an 123-69 (.641) mark with the Irish. Corrigan has led Notre Dame to 10 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 14 years (including six straight from 1992-97) and 11 (either outright or shared) conference titles. In 2001 , he guided the Irish to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship national semifinals. Under Corrigan, Notre Dame has been victorious in the first round of the NCAA tournament on three occasions. He has had 12 different players earn USILA All-America honors. Previous to his tenure at Notre Dame, Corrigan served as head coach at Randolph-Macon during the 1985 and 1986 campaign where his teams compiled a 10-15 mark.

A NOTRE DAME RARITY – Notre Dame’s final 5-8 record a year ago marked just the third time in te 22-year history of the program that an Irish team fell below the .500 mark. The only other two times the Irish have experienced losing season were in 1983 (6-7) and 1998 (5-7). Notre Dame has also finished with a .500 record on two other occasions – 1981 (6-6) and 1991 (7-7). Notre Dame’s eight losses were the most ever by an Irish team.

IRISH IN SEASON OPENERS – Notre Dame owns a 15-7 record in season openers and are 9-5 in those contests under head coach Kevin Corrigan. Irish teams have not dropped back-to-back season openers since the 1995 and 1996 campaigns, losing to Penn State (15-14) and Loyola (14-7).

PROTECTING THE HOME TURF – Notre Dame was just 1-4 at home, the fewest wins at home since the 1996 campaign when that Irish squad finished just 2-3. Only three times in 22 seasons did Notre Dame lose four home games – 1981, 1991 and 2002. Both the 1981 and 1991 squad finished with 2-4 home records.

IN THE POLLS – Notre Dame begins the season ranked 17th in the Inside Lacrosse Preseason Poll. Ten of Notre Dame’s 14 opponents begin the season in the top 25 – Virginia (#4), Maryland (#5), North Carolina (#9), Hofstra (#10), Loyola (#12), Penn State (#16), Ohio State (#19), Harvard (#21), Fairfield (#22) and Pennsylvania (#23). BERGER BITES – As a sophomore, Dan Berger tied for team-high scoring honors as he finished with 25 points in netting a team-high 25 goals and dishinf off four assists. He started all 13 games after playing in just six game during his freshman year in which he scored just one goal. He had six multiple-goal games in 2002, including a personal best four goals in a 7-6 loss at Pennsylvania on March 2. Prior to the Fairfield game (the 11th game of the season), Berger had scored a goal in the first 10 games of the season. Against the Stags he did manage to dish off an assist to keep his streak alive of contributing either a goal or an assist in all 11 games. In the loss to Harvard, however, Berger also held without a goal or an assist. He was one of just four Irish players who has started all 13 contests last season.

CLOSE CALLS – Notre Dame’s first four losses in 2002 season were by a combined five goals. Three of the team’s eight setbacks during the campaign have been decided in overtime. The Irish lost 10-9 in overtime to Penn State at home in the season opener and then dropped a 7-6 double overtime decision to Loyola at home, which marked the first-ever double overtime game in the program’s 22-year history. Notre Dame also lost to Harvard on the road (7-6) in overtime. Last year’s three overtime contests were the most ever played by an Irish team in a single season. Notre Dame played two overtime contests in a single season on three other occasions – 1981, 1994 and 1996. Notre Dame wa 0-5 in one-goal games in ’02.

HOME SWEET HOME – Notre Dame owns a 92-31 (.748) mark in home games since 1981. Last season, the Irish were just 2-4 in their six homes which marked just the third time a Notre Dame team suffered that many losses at home. Since back-to-back 5-0 campaigns at home in 1994 and 1995, Irish teams own a 40-15 record for a winning percentage of 77.6 percent. Notre Dame has an all-time 91-30 (72.7 percent) home record since the program’s inaugural season. Since ’94, Notre Dame has been undefeated at home four times.

LOOKS FAMILIAR – Notre Dame’s 2003 schedule will feature 11 opponents the Irish faced a year ago – Penn State, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Loyola, Hofstra, Denver, Ohio State, Butler, Air Force, Fairfield and Harvard.

ALL IN THE FAMILY – Craig Bishko (West Islip, N.Y.), a freshman midfielder on this year’s Irish lacrosse team, is the brother of former Notre Dame standout Steve Bishko, a 2001 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) third-team All-America selection and three-year starter. The Bishkos are the fourth brother tandem to play lacrosse at Notre Dame. The others are Todd (1992-96) and Joe Bialous, Jason (1992-94, ’95) and Connor (’98) Pett and David (1998-2001) and Todd (1998-2001) Ulrich.

ALL IN THE FAMILY II – Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are represented by members of the Simon family – defenseman Eric Simon’s sister, Meredith, is a junior on the women’s lacrosse team, while freshman midfielder Will Shearer’s (Hampstead, Md.) sister, Danielle, also plays for head coach Tracy Coyne’s squad.

PRESEASON HONORS – Senior longstick midfielder John Souch and senior defensman Eric Simon were both tabbed as preseason honorable mention selections by Inside Lacrosse Face Off Yearbook.