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Seniors focused on championship

Greg Arbogast | Friday, April 20, 2007

After setting the program record for consecutive home victories with last weekend’s win over Air Force, the No. 11 Irish will return to the friendly confines of Moose-Krause Stadium Saturday at 11 a.m. to take on Lehigh.For Notre Dame’s nine seniors, it will be the final regular-season game in which they compete on the home field that has treated them so well throughout their careers. But extending their winning streak – not playing in their last home game – is at the forefront of those seniors’ minds.”I haven’t really thought about [playing my final home game] that much,” senior Lucius Polk said. “I think we’re focused on winning. If your goal is winning all your home games and winning a national championship, winning all your home games comes along with that.” Winning is something the Irish have been doing a lot of lately. After stumbling to an 0-3 start, Notre Dame has responded with five consecutive victories, including convincing defeats of Air Force and Denver last weekend, which ran the team’s consecutive home winning streak to 13 games. Over their last five contests, the Irish have outscored their opponents by a staggering 67-21 margin. “We’ve really changed our attitude since the beginning of the season,” Polk said. “After starting the season 3-3, we knew we needed to change things around if we wanted to make anything out of the season. A couple of position changes and a little bit of an attitude change, and we were able to get the ball rolling.” The recent surge has Notre Dame sitting atop the Greater Western Lacrosse League standings at 3-0. The Irish are a half-game better than Ohio State, currently 2-0 in GWLL play. The two teams will face off April 28 in Columbus in a game that will likely determine who gets the league’s automatic post-season birth. For now, however, Notre Dame is concerned solely with Lehigh. Although the Mountain Hawks carry a pedestrian 4-8 overall record and 2-4 mark in Patriot League play, they have shown the ability to compete with elite teams this season. The results of their five games against ranked opponents this season include one-goal losses to No. 8 Army and No. 20 Stony Brook in addition to an 8-6 win over No. 17 Drexel. “They have a lot of seniors on their team, and since this is their last game – they didn’t qualify for their conference tournament – they’re going to be pretty hungry,” senior Brian Hubschmann said. “They have a lot of motivation despite their losing record.” On defense, the Irish will have to account for senior attack Stephen Marino, who leads the Mountain Hawks in both points (33) and assists (18). On the offensive end, Notre Dame will look to exploit a Lehigh defense that has allowed 57 first-half goals this season.The Irish have the balanced offensive attack to do so. Notre Dame has four players that have netted 18 or more goals on the season. Sophomore attack Ryan Hoff leads the way with 28 goals on the year, and his 2.55 goals per game average is 13th in the nation.