Irish to kick off season against Air Force
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, January 29, 2016
With Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan entering his 28th season roaming the sidelines, most of his legacy is already in place.
He’s missing just one thing: a national championship. And with three of his top four scorers returning from last year, Corrigan’s chances seem high in 2016.
Notre Dame, ranked second in the preseason polls, will kick of its 2016 season Saturday with an exhibition matchup against Air Force at Meyo Field at the Loftus Sports Center.
While the Irish lost a handful of contributors on the 2015 squad to graduation, the core of the team stayed intact for the most part. Leading Notre Dame will be candidates for the best attackman, midfielder and defender in the nation in senior Matt Kavanagh, junior Sergio Perkovic and senior Matt Landis, respectively.
Kavanagh, who had 27 goals and 25 assists last season, is close to completing one of the most prolific careers in Notre Dame lacrosse history, totaling 101 goals and 74 assists for 175 points in his three years on campus, good for fifth in program history. The Irish also return Perkovic, who led the team in goals last season with 34 in 15 games. On defense, the 6-foot-2 Landis will start for the third straight year. He, along with Kavanagh, was recently picked in the top five of the Major League Lacrosse draft held Jan. 22.
And that does not even include sophomore attack Mikey Wynne, who shot onto the scene last year by tallying 33 goals.
If the Irish are to get over the hump, they will have to do it without the likes of attackman Conor Doyle, midfilder/face-off specialist Nick Ossello and midfielders Jim Marlatt and Will Corrigan, head coach Kevin’s son. That group, which tallied 73 goals combined last season, all have exhausted their NCAA eligibility.
While the regular season won’t start for Notre Dame until Feb. 20, this Saturday its attention will turn to Air Force. The Falcons are coming off a disappointing 8-7 2015 season but are just two years removed from an NCAA tournament berth.
2016 will mark Air Force’s first season in the Southern Conference after previously playing as an independent. The Falcons were picked to finish third out of eight teams in the preseason coaches’ poll, and sophomore attackman Chris Walsch was named to the preseason all-conference team. Walsch led the Falcons with 37 goals and 55 points in 2015, and his goal output was good for second most all-time at Air Force since 1994.
Notre Dame and Air Force will face off Saturday at 12 p.m. at Meyo Field as the Irish look to make their third straight Final Four and claim their first ever national title.