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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish focus on Georgetown matchup

Matthew Robison | Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two weeks ago, after a narrow 7-6 win over Rutgers on March 24 and a 12-10 loss to St. John’s on March 30, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan recognized his team had lost focus. But after a 17-5 beatdown over Marquette on April 2 and a 13-8 victory over Providence five days later, that focus is back.

“I feel good about where our focus is right now,” Corrigan said. “I know our guys are working at that. We’ve tried to do a better job of giving them clarity in exactly what we want from them. I think they’re doing a good job at working at it and being accountable for the things that we think are important.”

That focus will be challenged again this weekend when Georgetown visits for a Sunday matinee. The Hoyas (5-6, 2-1 Big East) have struggled this season and have been dealt losses on the wrong end of some lopsided games. But their struggles do not indicate weakness, but rather some unforeseen circumstances.

“I think they’re very good,” Corrigan said. “I think they’ve had some injuries throughout the year that kept their lineup in flux a little bit. They had some injuries to some key guys. But they’re coming off a huge win over St. John’s who was No. 10 in the country last week. That shows what they’re capable of doing.”

In terms of style, Corrigan described Georgetown as a “mixed bag” of some of the teams Notre Dame (8-2, 2-1) has faced this season.

“Defensively, they get out and come after you a little bit in the style of the way Providence played against us,” Corrigan said. “At the same time, offensively, they probably more resemble Villanova and Denver and some of the teams we’ve played that have a mix of Canadian and American influence in what they do.”

The Hoyas fell 19-7 to Duke on March 23 and 14-6 to Mount St. Mary’s on March 12. But a 14-13 overtime win over No. 14 St. John’s reminded the Big East that Georgetown is consistently one of the conference’s best teams.

All season, one of Notre Dame’s most valuable assets has been its balance offensively. The Irish have a number of scorers who have the potential to light up the scoreboard. Against Marquette, the offensive firepower came from junior attackman John Scioscia, who had six goals and an assist. Against Providence, senior attackman Sean Rogers led the way with four goals and an assist.

“On any given possession, we have a number of guys that can make a play,” Corrigan said. “That makes us difficult to play against.”

That balance comes from two sources, Corrigan said. First, the Irish have a wealth of talent on the field. Every player has the potential to make great plays. Second, Notre Dame has to play a system in which each player’s potential can be maximized and turned into goals.

“That’s a collective commitment that I think our guys have started to zero in on and will make us better as the year goes on,” Corrigan said.

On Monday the NCAA released its first RPI rankings of the season, and Notre Dame was ranked No. 1. The RPI looks at strength of schedule, the rankings of the teams each team has beaten and to whom each team has lost.
At the end of the season, the NCAA will use the RPI as an organizational tool when compiling the bracket for the NCAA tournament.

In order to rank highly in the RPI, teams must schedule games against as many strong programs as possible, in order to set themselves up for a good seed come tournament time.

“In scheduling, absolutely it’s something you concern yourself with,” Corrigan said.

But during the year, it doesn’t have much relevance.

“At this time of year, your focus has got to stay and be solely on the team that you’re playing this week,” Corrigan said. “[The No. 1 ranking is] not something that surprised me, but it’s not something that I’m going to concern myself with right now. That’s something you worry about when you’re scheduling, and it’s something that you worry about at the end of the year when you’re tallying these things up. In between, I think our guys know, and certainly our guys know that the focus needs to stay pretty squarely on the team and the challenge that’s right in front of you.”

Right now, that challenge is Georgetown. The Hoyas and Irish will face off Sunday at 11 a.m. in Arlotta Stadium.

Contact Matt Robison at  mrobison@nd.edu