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Men’s Lacrosse: No. 3 ND looks to stay hot against Penn State

Chris Allen | Friday, February 26, 2010

The No. 3 Irish will look to avoid a letdown after beating then-No. 2 Duke 11-7 to start the season as they take on Penn State Sunday in the team’s home opener.

Irish coach Kevin Corrigan says the team is buzzing with anticipation and excitement for the start of the home slate.

“It’s always exciting to start at home,” Corrigan said. “Not only do you get to play in front of friends and classmates, but I think the players appreciate not having to worry about the chaos and uncertainty of travel.”

The team has done its part to drum up a lot of excitement on campus for the start of its home slate. After besting Duke on the road to begin the season, the Irish (1-0) jumped from No. 9 to No. 3 in the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll and generated their fair share of buzz in the lacrosse world.

Corrigan said his players won’t let the success go to their heads, though, as they take on a Penn State team that stumbled to a 24-17 loss to open the season against Robert Morris.

“It’s as simple as this,” Corrigan said. “If they beat us, we’re both 1-1. So there’s no extra credit for the win last week. Obviously we’re excited to have it, but it’s a long season and we have to go out there and execute this weekend.”

Despite their loss to Robert Morris, Penn State offers a significant challenge, boasting a young, athletic squad. In the opener, sophomore Matthew Mackrides scored five goals and freshman Billy Gribbin added four of his own.

Corrigan focused his team in practice this week on ironing out some flaws shown in the Duke game as well as preparing for Penn State’s attack.

“It’s so early in the year, at this point you usually worry more about yourselves than you do about the opponent,” Corrigan said. “We’re looking at improving our decision making in the half-field as well as our transition game. But we’re also trying to prepare for the style of the game [Penn State] is going to bring. They’re very athletic, and play very hard. Their style of full-field play is not unlike what we play but they present some challenges because they’re so athletic.”

The Irish and the Nittany Lions will square off at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Loftus Sports Center.