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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish face test in first game

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 24, 2006

No. 10 Notre Dame opens the season this weekend by welcoming No. 11 Penn State to the Loftus Center Sunday at 1 pm.

In the first test of a 2006 loaded with high expectations, the Irish are antsy to get started after competing against each other in practice.

“You can look at it in everyone’s eyes,” Irish co-captain defenseman D.J. Driscoll said. “We’re ready to beat up on someone else.”

Though the game against the Nittany Lions offers new opposition, they are a familiar foe for the Irish. Notre Dame has opened up indoors against Penn State the last eight years, which Irish coach Kevin Corrigan says has been by design. Though South Bend and State College, Penn., offer frigid lacrosse weather in February, Corrigan says that both teams are the only in the country to have indoor fields with guaranteed availability this early in the season.

In that time span, Notre Dame has taken six of eight contests against Penn State, including a 14-6 victory in State College last season when the Irish finished 7-4 and narrowly missed an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

As the Irish start their run to end a four-year tournament drought, Corrigan looks at the 2006 Penn State team apart from that of 2005.

“We certainly know some of their personnel, but there are a lot that we don’t know,” Corrigan said. “It’s their first game, too, and there’s a lot we’ll have to learn about them ourselves.”

Since a Feb. 11 doubleheader against Bucknell and defending national champion Duke, Driscoll said Corrigan has had the team concentrate on its own game – devoting time to hammer in fundamentals in practice and keeping last year’s Penn State film to a minimum. He said Thursday was the team’s first exposure to the coach’s limited preseason scouting report on the Nittany Lions.

“There’s no film on them for this year,” said Driscoll, who led the team with six groundballs in last season’s contest. “As long as [we] know our game plan, which coach has been drilling into our heads this past week and a half, we will be fine.”

The most important off-season developments for Corrigan was the lack thereof.

“The good news is that it was a pretty uneventful preseason,” he said. “There was no drama to speak of in the preseason and – knock on wood – there have been no injuries so far.”

Though Corrigan said he was pleased with Notre Dame’s ability to compete with No. 1 Duke in preseason scrimmages he knows the Nittany Lions also played well in a preseason scrimmage against No. 2 Johns Hopkins.

As a senior leader on the team, Driscoll has taken a more active role in making sure the Irish are prepared to open the season – especially against the No. 11 team in the country – and he is excited for Sunday.

“It’s the first game and everyone’s pumped,” he said. “We’re ready for this.”

Co-captain Drew Peters shares Driscoll’s confidence, thanks to the Irish game plan the past two weeks.

“We know we’re going to play fundamentally sound,” Peters said. “We know how we can play and that should take care of it.”