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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish ready to battle Lehigh

Tim Dougherty | Friday, April 21, 2006

After dropping from No. 9 to No. 19 in the USILA Coaches Poll with two losses last weekend out west in the Rocky Mountains against Denver and Air Force, Notre Dame (7-4, 3-2 GWLL) head to the eastern reaches of the Appalachians to climb out of their slump against the Lehigh (7-5, 3-2 Patriot League).

After a travel day Monday and an off day Tuesday, the Irish have only had two days of practice so far to prepare for Lehigh. But senior co-captain midfielder Drew Peters said their strenuousness more than made up for the number of days.

“Yesterday’s and [Thursday’s] practice was a little tough, but real good,” Peters said. “It was good to have a day off and then go real hard for a few days. I think it was beneficial for our team. A lot of drills, a lot of running, but I think we did well yesterday.”

Peters said the practices were just what the team needed to release leftover bitter emotions stemming from last weekend’s loss to Colorado.

“[The intensity] was definitely very apparent yesterday and carried into [Thursday],” Peters said. “Everyone was kind of spent after two hard hours of practice. We’re hoping for [the effort] to carry over going into the Lehigh game.

Irish coach Kevin Corrigan also expressed general satisfaction with his team’s effort.

Though Notre Dame’s tournament hopes suffered a major blow last weekend, Corrigan refuses to let the team’s past games affect its ability to take care of the work ahead.

“I’m looking for guys that want to come out and compete against Lehigh,” Corrigan said. “If we have guys sitting around and worrying about games that have already been played and worrying about things they can’t control, than those guys aren’t going to play for us.”

Among the things the Irish hope to correct is their inconsistency due to fundamental mistakes like unforced turnovers on offense and losing track of assignments on defense – points of emphasis Corrigan has been harping on all season long.

“The frustrating thing about it is how erratic we are,” Corrigan said. “We play two shutout quarters against Denver, and then we give up four goals in the fourth quarter.”

Though Corrigan said the mistakes aren’t things he typically sees in practice, he hopes this week’s grueling practices will serve to focus the Irish come game time.

“If you don’t do it when the lights are on, it doesn’t matter what you do [at practice],” he said. “We have to bear down on game days and not make those kinds of mistakes.”

When Taylor Clagett takes the opening face-off for the Irish at 2 p.m., they will be looking at a team in its last tune up before it competes for an NCAA bid. Lehigh qualified for the Patriot League Tournament by defeating Holy Cross 13-6 last Saturday on Senior Day.

Sunday’s game will be Notre Dame’s first ever contest against Lehigh and from the video it has seen, the team expects a solid all-around showing from the Mountain Hawks.

“They’re a very well balanced team,” Corrigan said. “I think the challenge they present is that they do a little it of everything well.”

Lehigh is No. 30 in the country in scoring offense at 8.42 goals per game and its defense has held opponents to 7.17 goals per game – No. 8 in the nation.

After looking at their film, Peters said the Irish do not expect Lehigh to throw anything at them style-wise they have not seen throughout the year.

One thing that sophomore goalie Joey Kemp is certainly used to seeing is the game’s venue. A Georgetown Prep graduate, Kemp will return to the field on which he played for the nationally-ranked Hoyas for four years, including as team captain and MVP his senior season.

Corrigan said he likes to arrange games in the areas from which he draws his players, whenever possible.

“We wanted to play a game in the area,” he said. “Joey’s high school coach [Kevin Giblin] is a friend of mine so we worked it out to play it there.”