MENS LACROSSE: Irish must face test in early season game
By PAT LEONARD
The last time the mens lacrosse team opened a season 5-0, the squad advanced to the 2001 NCAA Final Four.
To reach that goal this season, the Irish must win at No. 12 North Carolina Saturday. The No. 11 Irish (2-0) will then face two more top 15 teams in a seven-day span.
While Notre Dame knows it will have to work for a win in every contest, the team is testing itself early in what head coach Kevin Corrigan hopes to be a repeat of two seasons ago.
"I don't think we're going to see any teams this talented on the same trip [again]," Corrigan said. "In these three straight games we will find out a lot about ourselves."
Notre Dame will face No. 12 North Carolina and No. 1 Virginia on the road and No. 8 Loyola at home. Last season, the Irish dropped a close 7-5 contest to Virginia and a 7-6 nail-biter to Loyola.
This season, however, the Irish have started with two solid wins over two solid programs. Notre Dame beat now No. 13 Penn State on the road 10-9 and blew out Ivy League opponent Penn at the Loftus Sports Center, 14-5. Junior Matt Howell had three goals and two assists against the Quakers, freshman Patrick Walsh had two goals and three assists and freshman Matt Karweck scored three goals in a game that featured an impressive, even distribution of points across the roster.
Now, the Irish will face a North Carolina squad that has played in just as many games but has a few more battle scars to show for it. The Tar Heels lost in quadruple overtime to Navy in its season opener, and then defeated Bucknell to move to 1-1. North Carolina has been tested, as have Virginia (2-0) and Loyola (3-0). Virginia beat Syracuse 16-15 last weekend and sit tied atop the rankings with Johns Hopkins, a team that defeated then-second ranked Princeton, 10-8. Loyola took care of Hofstra, 10-4.
"Anytime you play teams that are as talented as them, you have got to establish what you are and aren't going to do and try to impose the style and tempo that is most comfortable to your team," Corrigan said. "We'll see if we're ready to do that."
Notre Dame hopes to continue to get scoring from all over, particularly from the impressive freshman class that has emerged early on.
"We're young but we like the way we've been playing," Corrigan said. "We have to be careful not to let the tempo get away from us and see if we can play with enough discipline to do that."
Notre Dame's match against Virginia, originally scheduled to be played at either Klockner Stadium or on the U-Hall Turf Field in Virginia, has been moved to Charlottesville, Va., and will be played on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
Notre Dame will be in action in North Carolina Saturday at 1 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Friday, March 7, 2003