May 7, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame (10-4) will meet No. 1 seed Virginia (13-0) in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament on Saturday, May 13 at 3:30 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. The game will be carried live on ESPNU. The Fighting Irish are making the 11th trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history. Notre Dame’s last trek to the postseason came in 2001, when the Irish made their first-ever appearance in the Final Four.
Notre Dame earned a spot into this year’s field of 16 by claiming the program’s first-ever at-large berth. The previous 10 trips have all been a result of winning the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) or being the top team in the West Region.
At-large bids for non-east coast teams have been extremely rare in the 36-year history of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship. Only once has a team west of Chapel Hill, N.C. (University of North Carolina) garnered an at-large berth, prior to this year’s selection of the Irish. That was in 1971, when undefeated Air Force earned an invitation.
Notre Dame’s bid is also significant as it marked the first time that the GWLL has ever placed two teams into the NCAA Tournament. Denver was the league’s automatic qualifier by winning the conference and the Irish become the first-ever at-large berth from the league, which began in 1994.
The Irish and the Cavaliers have met twice in the NCAAs, with Virginia coming away with victories in 1993 and 1994. Notre Dame is 1-4 all-time against the Cavaliers. The last meeting occurred in 2003, a 14-8 Virginia win. The Irish downed the Cavaliers, 11-8, in Charlottesville during their 2001 Final Four campaign.
This contest will also be a homecoming of sorts for Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan, who played for the Cavaliers from 1979-1981. Corrigan has guided the Irish to all 11 NCAA appearances during his 18-year tenure at Notre Dame
The Irish are led by a solid group of seniors, including attackmen Brian Hubschmann (Short Hills, N.J./Delbarton) and Pat Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh), who share the team lead with 47 points apiece. Hubschmann has a team-high 29 goals to go along with 18 assists, while Walsh leads the squad with 25 assists in addition to tallying 22 goals.
Notre Dame’s defense is also one of the best in the country as the Irish are allowing just 7.21 goals per game. Sophomore goaltender Joey Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep) ranks among the nation’s best in goals-against average (7.05) and save percentage (.597). Reigning GWLL Defensive Player of the Year D.J. Driscoll (Downington, Pa./Malvern Prep) has also been a solid presence in the Irish defense all season long.
Virginia boasts five players with 30 or more points this season and the Cavaliers own the nation’s highest-scoring offense at 15.62 goals per game and the top scoring margin (8.38). Senior attackman Matt Ward has a team-high 45 points on 26 goals and 19 assists, while senior midfielder Matt Poskay leads the team in goals with 29. Virginia is the only undefeated team in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse this season and this is the program’s first No. 1 seed since 1980.
The winner of the Notre Dame-Virgina contest will take on the winner of the Navy-Georgetown tilt on either May 20 or 21 in Towson, Md. For more information on the 2006 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament, including a complete bracket, log onto ncaasports.com
Stay up-to-date on the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team by logging onto und.com or by calling the Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000. You can also sign up to receive text message score updates through Irish Alert. Log onto und.com for more details.