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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish open Big East schedule

Allan Joseph | Friday, March 26, 2010

Notre Dame will play its first game of Big East men’s lacrosse with a home date against Rutgers Saturday.

No. 13 Notre Dame (5-2) was formerly a member of the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) but has moved to the Big East along with Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova, Rutgers, St. John’s and Providence. Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said that the move was a positive one for his program.

“It’s going to be a great conference for us. We’ve kept some of the rivalries with the teams from the GWLL but get a whole new group of teams to compete with,” he said. “The Big East [region] is where most of our players come from, so it’s a nice thing that our players will get to play games back where they’re from.”

The conference slate begins with a visit from Rutgers (4-2), who boasts a dangerous attack led by Tewaaraton Trophy candidate senior midfielder Justin Pennington, an all-conference preseason selection.

The Irish (5-2) will have to defend an offense averaging nearly 12 goals a game while scoring on a defense allowing fewer than seven scores per contest. The primary concern for the Irish, however, is that the Rutgers attack is not limited to Pennington alone, but is a team with a variety of scorers.

“They’ve got a lot of guys offensively who can hurt you,” Corrigan said. “They’re a team that can put a lot of pressure on you at the end of the field.”

If the Irish are successful Saturday, it will mark their third consecutive win in a season that has been marked by streaks; the squad opened the campaign with a three straight victories, then dropped two tight contests over spring break before returning home and opening Arlotta Stadium with a pair of wins. Corrigan said he believes his team has learned the value of focusing on the game at hand.

“We’ve been up, we’ve been down, we’re back up again,” he said. “We’ve got to concentrate on one game at a time, and we can’t worry about anything else.”

The tangle with the Scarlet Knights will require Notre Dame to focus on fundamentals that have been lacking at times previously this season.

“We have to get back to playing good, solid, smart lacrosse,” Corrigan said.

With a week since their last game, the Irish have had plenty of time to prepare to do so and come away with a victory in their first conference game.

“It’s a great conference to be a part of, and we’re very excited to begin Big East play,” Corrigan said.

The Big East era of Notre Dame lacrosse begins against Rutgers Saturday at noon in Arlotta Stadium.