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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish set to kick off new season

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 10, 2006

The last time the Irish took the field, they took no prisoners in a 16-5 stomping of Ohio State. But that was nearly a year ago, and Notre Dame has two scrimmages this weekend for its first competition in nine months.

The team’s 7-4 record and No. 16 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse media poll were not enough to make the 16-team field for the NCAA Championships last year, it hopes to change that this year. Gearing up for a tournament run in 2006, the Notre Dame travels to Durham, N.C., Saturday for a rare lacrosse doubleheader against Bucknell and Duke.

The preseason No. 12 Irish will open up at noon against the No. 25 Bison of Bucknell, who finished 8-5 last year as co-champions of the Patriot League. Bucknell’s Patriot League Tournament semifinal loss last spring spoiled their hopes for the second tournament appearance in school history. (Its first came in 2001 and was ended by a 12-7 Irish victory in the tournament.)

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Irish will take on the No. 2 Blue Devils, who were national semifinalists a year ago and return three first-team, two second-team and two third-team All-Americans.

Irish Coach Kevin Corrigan sees the scrimmages as an efficient and effective opportunity to measure where his team stands in the NCAA-regulated 17 workout days before the regular season starts.

“We’re going down [to Durham] to find out about ourselves,” Corrigan said. “We’re going to get an appreciation for where we are.”

With the Irish slated to open up the regular season with No. 13 Penn State at home on Feb. 26, Corrigan sees the Duke match up, in particular, as a test to work out any problems before official play begins.

“They’re going to expose our weaknesses,” he said. “If we’re not solid somewhere, we’ll find out with a team as good as them.

“But our focus is Penn State. This is another opportunity to take a step forward in preparation for Penn State.”

Notre Dame returns nine of 11 starters from last year’s squad, led by preseason second-team All-American attacker Pat Walsh and third-teamer defenseman D.J. Driscoll.

However, Corrigan wants his team’s play to speak for itself this weekend – and, more importantly, against Penn State and beyond en route to a tournament bid.

“I don’t think you earn anything until the season starts,” he said. “We’re honored people think highly of us, but it doesn’t mean a thing. The only ranking that really matters is the last one.”