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Men’s Lacrosse: Squad hosts Big East rival ‘Nova

Sam Gans | Friday, April 19, 2013

 

Notre Dame will attempt to clinch a spot in the four-team Big East tournament with a win over Villanova in its final regular season home game of the season Saturday.

The No. 19 Wildcats (5-6, 4-0 Big East) started the year slowly with losses in five of their first six games. However, they rebounded to win four of their last five contests and three in a row, including a 13-11 victory Saturday over then-No. 14 St. John’s, who beat No. 2 Notre Dame (9-2, 3-1) 12-10 on March 30. The Wildcats are also the only team undefeated in Big East play.

“Early in the year, they lost some close games to some good teams, and so they really at this point are in a great position to compete for the Big East automatic qualifier bid through the Big East tournament,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They’re 4-0 in the conference right now and leading the league, so we’re not worried about what happened to them a month-and-a-half ago, we’re just looking at where they are right now and we’re well aware that they’re playing their best lacrosse right now.”

Villanova has faced one of the toughest schedules in the country, with eight of its 11 games against ranked teams when the game was played. As a result, the Wildcats are the only ranked team not above .500.

“They’re battle-tested at this point, and they’ve been on both sides of some of those wins now with the great win over [then-No. 4] Syracuse [on March 23] and some other close losses to top teams,” Corrigan said. “So they’ve got a really good sense about what they need to do at this point to win games, and so I think it’s going to be a fun game, a great challenge for us.”

Senior attackman Jack Rice leads the Wildcats with 22 goals on the season. Sophomore goaltender Reed Carlson has started the past six games for Villanova, replacing freshman Greg Stamatov, who started the first five. Carlson has a .485 save percentage on the season against Stamatov’s .424.

The Irish have two games remaining in the regular season and are in contention for a Big East championship and a first round home game in the NCAA tournament, which are awarded to the tournament’s top eight seeds. Corrigan said the Irish aren’t looking ahead, however.

“We really don’t talk about [the future possibilities] at all,” Corrigan said. “I’m sure that to varying degrees, guys are aware of that stuff, but it’s just not part of what I feel we need to be concerned with. It’s just too hard when you’re looking around and looking ahead and doing all that to even know what things mean.”

The Villanova game will be the final regular season game in Arlotta Stadium this season. Although Corrigan said he’s not focused on potential future achievements, he is hopeful Saturday’s home regular season finale leaves the Irish wanting one final opportunity to play at home in the postseason.

“I hope [Saturday’s final home game] provides motivation for them to make sure that it’s not,” he said. “I’d like to think that they have on their minds that we’d like to play one more game here.”

The opening face-off between Notre Dame and Villanova is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Arlotta Stadium.

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu