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Men’s Lacrosse – Analysis: Loss should refocus team

Pat R. O'Brien | Thursday, March 8, 2007

Irish fans should not worry after last weekend’s loss to Cornell (3-0). The Big Red are ranked No. 3 in the nation and may be the hottest team in the country. Through their first three victories, the Red have outscored their opponents 48-18. During that span, Cornell goaltender Matt McMonagle has been stellar, saving more than 60 percent of shots on goal.

No. 14 Notre Dame (2-1) beat Loyola (Md.) in their first contest of the year in a 9-7 battle. Loyola is currently ranked No. 16. Then the Irish conquered pre-season No. 16 Penn State in Happy Valley.

After the 13-8 loss at Cornell, Notre Dame travels to No. 15 North Carolina, who has had a hot 3-1 start this season. The Irish also visit Drexel, a team with a landmark 11-10 victory over then-No. 1 Virginia, the defending national champion. The road trip ends with a weekend visit to Ivy League team Dartmouth.

Notre Dame needs to get past this five game road trip in its brutal early schedule. After these games, five of Notre Dame’s remaining eight matches are here in South Bend, and only one is against a team that is currently ranked in the top 20. That squad is league rival, No. 18 Denver, who the Irish play at Moose Krause Field. This does not mean that Notre Dame should take any game lightly, but the schedule does get easier.

“You have to play every game as a must win from here on out,” Irish junior goalkeeper Joey Kemp said.

The Irish need to get back on track from their first two games. A major factor in their two victories was Notre Dame’s advantage over their opponents in shots on goal. In the loss to Cornell, though, the Irish were outshot by 14 attempts. The defense needs to limit their opposition’s attempts – Kemp is good enough to make a sufficient number of saves for the Irish to win if the team shot totals stay close.

Notre Dame also needs to have good midfield play to help its offense. In the Penn State victory, junior midfielder Michael Podgajny netted four goals and had two assists for a season-high six points.

The upperclassmen are a very important part of leading this team as preseason-All-American senior attacker Brian Hubschmann stands atop the team with seven goals. However, a good barometer of success is how well the underclassmen are doing. Freshman attacker Will Yeatman needs to continue his scoring success. Along with Podgajny, he leads the team with nine points. Sophomore attacker Ryan Hoff also has helped out with four goals and two assists of his own.

The views in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Pat R. O’Brien at pobrien2@nd.edu