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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish hit road to face Pride

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 24, 2006

The No. 11 Irish, tournament hungry and standing 4-1 on the season, are always playing for more than pride. This weekend, Notre Dame will take that mentality to Hempstead, NY, where the team will face the No. 5 Hofstra Pride Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Notre Dame enters the contest carrying a three-game winning streak, including a 9-7 victory over then-No. 20 North Carolina. During that span, the Irish have lost the groundball battle in all three games, but their defense has out-cleared their opponents – a feat they have achieved in every game this year, with an .830 clear percentage compared to the .654 mark to which they have held their opponents.

This is also their third straight game away from home.

“It’s always tough going on the road,” senior co-captain and midfielder Drew Peters said. “Going on the road to Hofstra to play a top-five team will be a challenge.”

Hofstra (4-1) enters the game on a four-game roll, most recently defeating then-No. 6 Princeton last Saturday to vault the Pride from No. 9 to their current spot in the top five. They also beat defending NCAA champions and current No. 9 Johns Hopkins 11-6 earlier in the year.

The Irish have narrowly missed a tournament invitation each of the past three years. In order to make it back to postseason play for the first time since 2001, the team realizes that a win against a top-ranked team is crucial.

“We need to win a big game,” Peters said. “If we get a big win over them, that’ll get some momentum and set things up for the rest of the season. Everyone realizes how big of a game this is.”

Last year, Notre Dame went on the road and defeated Hofstra 9-8 in double overtime.

Senior attackman Pat Walsh was the hero of last season’s game, assisting one goal and scoring six of his own, including the decisive tally with 1:55 left in the second overtime. If the Tewaaraton Trophy “Watch List” attackman is to post similar numbers Saturday, he must get past first-team All-American senior defenseman Brett Moyer, a fellow Tewaaraton nominee.

Walsh will have help this year with the return of senior attackman Brian Hubschmann, who missed all of last year due to injury but has been dominating this year. Hubschmann leads the Irish in scoring with 10 goals and seven assists.

Walsh and Hubschmann are two of 11 Irish players returning for the only time this year to play in their home state and lacrosse hotbed of New York.

After playing at Hofstra last year, Peters expects an ideal environment for lacrosse fans.

“A lot of the guys have a lot of family that shows up,” he said. “Hofstra is always a great place to play. They have a big stadium that draws 8,000 people for a big game. The whole place erupts when you score a goal.”

Though the Irish controlled most of last year’s contest, they almost let it slip away, allowing a late three-goal Pride run to send the game into its first overtime. Similar late game let-ups last week enabled North Carolina and Villanova to make 4-0 and 4-1 runs, respectively, to allow them back into those games.

Hofstra’s only common opponent with the Irish this year has been North Carolina.

The Pride erased a 5-1 deficit against the Tarheels to win 6-5 in the last two minutes of the game.

The Irish entered last year’s game in a similar position with Notre Dame 3-1, but following the win, they closed out the season 3-3 and barely missed a tournament invitation.

“We had a good week at practice,” Peters said. “Everyone is feeling confident. We’re going to play our game of lacrosse, and hopefully, it will take care of itself.”