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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish fall after historic season

Joseph Monardo | Friday, August 19, 2011

In what was supposed to be a grand finale to a trailblazing regular season, the premature ending was all too familiar for the Irish coaches and players.

Following a first round victory over unseeded Penn (8-7, 4-2 Ivy League), No. 4 Notre Dame (11-3, 5-1 Big East) was ousted from the NCAA tournament by No. 5 Duke (14-6, 3-0 ACC) for the second consecutive year, this time in the quarterfinals by the score of 7-5.

“It was almost an anecdote to the championship game last year [which Notre Dame lost 6-5 in overtime],” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We outplayed them for a significant part of the game but didn’t cash in on opportunities. It was kind of a strange way to, for the second year in a row, begin the season with a win against Duke and end the season with a loss [against Duke].”

No. 6 in the preseason polls, the Irish enjoyed early success as they rattled off 10 straight wins to start the season (including a 12-7 defeat of Duke in week one) en route to securing the first No. 1 ranking in program history April 18. However, after only two weeks atop the polls, Notre Dame fell to Syracuse (15-2, 6-0 Big East) and North Carolina (10-6, 1-2 ACC) in consecutive weeks to end the regular season. Although they seemed to have limped into the postseason, the Irish regained their momentum with an opening round 13-6 victory over Penn.

“It was probably our best game we had played all year,” junior attack Sean Rogers said of the game against Penn. “Coming off of two losses … we really had to step it up, and we did.”

The Irish jumped out to an early 4-0 lead against the Quakers, and outscored their opponent 5-1 in the second half. Senior attack Colin Igoe added one assist to his three goals as he recorded a career high four points.

Unfortunately for the Irish, they were not able to replicate their goal-scoring performance from the first round game in the round of eight. The Irish were, however, very much in the game until the final quarter, when Duke netted three goals to run away with the contest. Notre Dame’s inability to convert scoring opportunities into goals, a deficiency which plagued the team all year, caught up to the Irish once again.

“Our problem this year against Duke was our shooting accuracy, and we didn’t make most of our shots and couldn’t put [the ball] in the back of the net,” sophomore goalie John Kemp said.

The Irish outshot Duke 34-28, won 11 of the 16 faceoff attempts, scooped up nine more ground balls and committed three fewer turnovers than the Blue Devils. Despite the lingering disappointment from their second round loss, Notre Dame’s successful regular season served to establish the program as one of the nation’s elite.

“All in all, it was a good year, but this team had aspirations to win a national championship,” Corrigan said. “We spent three or four weeks at No 1. We were the last team to be undefeated. We played as a top-five team all year, and I think that was very satisfying in a sense because we felt like we belonged, but [we] didn’t finish the year with a ring like we all hoped.”