Men’s Lacrosse: Irish look to start first win streak
Megan Golden | Thursday, February 23, 2012
Coming off a win over then-No.2 Duke on Saturday, Notre Dame looks to carry its momentum into action against No. 20 Penn State on Sunday.
The No. 4 Irish (1-0) netted seven goals in their win against the Blue Devils last weekend and moved up five spots in the rankings.
Following Notre Dame’s upset over Duke, junior goalkeeper John Kemp garnered Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors, and senior midfielder and co-captain Max Pfeifer earned a spot on the honor roll.
Kemp said the Irish are looking to stay levelheaded in their attempt to remain undefeated.
“It’s always good to beat a team like them with the rivalry we have and the high ranking they had,” Kemp said. “It’s important to not have too much overconfidence, but [it helps getting] a boost of confidence and knowing we can compete with pretty much anyone.”
Penn State (1-1) received a dose of confidence of its own in a dominant 16-9 victory over Michigan of Feb 18.
The Nittany Lions scored nine goals in a heavily offensive third quarter, which featured six different scorers.
Penn State bounced back from a season-opening loss to North Carolina, when it fell to the Tarheels despite scoring 10 goals.
Penn State senior attackman Jack Forster, who recorded five goals and six assists in two games, will present the Irish with a challenge on the defensive side of the ball.
“In a lot of ways it’s a similar challenge to Duke because they’ve got a number of good offensive players,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “Part of the challenge is keeping them out of a situation where you know they’re going to be hard to defend.”
The Nittany Lions will look to break through a solid Irish defense, led by senior defenseman Kevin Randall and Kemp. In his first match of the season, Kemp recorded 14 saves and allowed just three goals.
Kemp said the Irish will look to limit turnovers and penalties against Penn State.
“We have to come out and take care of the ball,” he said. “We’ve got to have good possessions and make sure the game is played the way we want to play. [The key will be] getting good shots, taking care of the ball and also not getting a lot of penalties.”
Penn State’s defense allowed 23 goals in its first two games this season, but the defense features several dangerous players, Corrigan said.
“They’ve got an excellent goalie,” he said. “They’re a little unknown as a defensive group because they’re young, but they’re extremely athletic.”
Corrigan said the Irish have no choice but to focus on one game at a time and cannot afford to overlook Penn State.
The Irish face a daunting first-half schedule, which features matches at Hofstra and at Ohio State. Four of Notre Dame’s next five opponents are currently ranked.
Kemp said the Irish captains have made an effort to keep the team focused on this weekend.
“We kind of try to think about [one opponent at a time] as a team and coaching staff,” Kemp said. “Our schedule is pretty challenging, but it’s a challenge we look forward to. It lets us know where we are as a team and it gets us toward our goal of winning a championship in May.”
The Irish will face off against the Nittany Lions at 1 p.m. Sunday at Notre Dame’s Arlotta Stadium.
Contact Megan Golden at email@example.com