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Irish take on fifth straight ranked opponent in Hofstra

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Coach Kevin Corrigan and the Irish schedule tough non-conference opponents to obtain quality wins for the team’s postseason resume.This season, the early swarm of ranked opponents has dug the No. 15 Notre Dame lacrosse team into a 1-3 whole as it hosts No. 13 Hofstra (2-3) in the Loftus Sports Center at 7 p.m. tonight.After defeating Penn State 17-7 in its season opener at home, Notre Dame has lost three straight games to No. 3 Syracuse, No. 9 North Carolina and No. 16 Loyola, respectively.Hofstra has had a similar difficult early season schedule, facing No. 1 Johns Hopkins, No. 6 Princeton and Loyola. The Pride defeated Loyola, 9-8, the same team that beat Notre Dame 13-7 in its previous outing.To get back on their feet in time for league play, the Irish must avoid falling behind early as they did 7-1 in the early going against the Greyhounds and 5-1 versus North Carolina. Despite scoring an average of twelve goals per game to rank eighth in the nation, the Irish offense cannot produce wins if team defense lapses in the beginning of a contest.Hofstra already owns a 6-4 all-time advantage over the Irish. The Pride have won each of the last five meetings between the two teams.The game will be Notre Dame’s final non-conference game before they enter league play with a home contest against Ohio State, no small task as the Buckeyes shared the Great Western Lacrosse League title with the Irish last season.To beat teams like Hofstra and Ohio State, Notre Dame must stick with its strengths while addressing its weaknesses. The Irish are the No. 1 team in the country in extra-man opportunities, converting 10-of-18 opportunities for a 55.6 success percentage. A win against Hofstra would boost the postseason resume and show the NCAA committee that Notre Dame cannot only score against the best teams but that they can beat the best teams, as well.Preseason honorable mention All-America Pat Walsh looks to continue his solid play to help ensure a victory. Walsh is living up to the preseason expectations as he leads the Great Western Lacrosse League with a 4.50 point per game average. He is also tied for sixth nationally, with nine goals and nine assists in the team’s first four games.Walsh is also one of 26 players named as a candidate for the 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to nation’s top player at the end of the season.